The Golden Age(s) of the American War Film

Golden Ages: Styles and Personalities, Genres and Histories
The 2014 Film & History Conference

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and of America’s commitment of ground troops in Vietnam; the 75th anniversary of the beginning of World War II; and the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. These are sobering milestones in a world still very much at war, and so it is a useful time to examine how film has shaped America’s cultural understanding of war in the past century.

The First World War began as Americans were commemorating the 50th anniversary of the American Civil War, and the first major American war film, D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915), focused on that subject. American war films—whether anti-war films such as All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), propagandistic World War II films such as Wake Island or Bataan (both 1943), elegiac neo-World War II films released after Saving Private Ryan (1998), or the Vietnam war films that interrogated that war after the fact (such as Platoon, 1986)—have not only represented conflict, but often incited conflict as well, at least among viewers and critics.

This area invites 20-minute papers dealing with all aspects of war and its aftermath, from portrayals of combat to home front support of military efforts, and propaganda to protest. Papers may focus on any war, in any genre, across media.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

Proposals for complete panels (three related presentations) are also welcome, but they must include an abstract and contact information, including an e-mail address, for each presenter. For updates and registration information about the upcoming meeting, see the Film & History website (

Please e-mail your 200-word proposal by 1 June 2014, to the area chair:

Vincent Casaregola
St. Louis University

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