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Toward a theory of true crime: forms and functions of nonfiction murder narratives

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The mass media genre known as true crime is dismissed often as a more sensational, less reliable iteration of traditional crime journalism. Consumer and editorial confusion exists because there is

The mass media genre known as true crime is dismissed often as a more sensational, less reliable iteration of traditional crime journalism. Consumer and editorial confusion exists because there is no overarching criteria determining what is, and what is not, true crime. To that extent, the complete history of true crime’s origins and its best practitioners and works cannot be known with any certainty, and its future forms cannot be anticipated. Scholarship is overdue on an effective criteria to determine when nonfiction murder narratives cease to be long-form crime reporting and become something else. Against the backdrop of this long-evolving, multi-faceted literary/documentary genre, the researcher in this exploratory, qualitative study seeks to (a) examine the historical tension between formal journalism and true crime; (b) reveal how traditional journalism both reviles and plunders true crime for its rhetorical treasures; and (c) explain how this has destabilized the meaning of the term “true crime” to the degree that a more substantive understanding needs to be established. Through a textual analysis of the forms and functions of representative artifacts, the researcher will suggest that a Theory of True Crime could be patterned after time-tested analytic codes created for fiction, but structured in a simple two-stage examination that would test for dominant characteristics of established true crime texts.

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  • 2017

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Six Post-9/11 American War Films: Towards an Evolution of Nontraditional Masculine Constructs

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Scholars argue that masculinity and war are united because masculinity is best observed through male-dominated arenas, such as the military. Moreover, film can serve as a medium to not only

Scholars argue that masculinity and war are united because masculinity is best observed through male-dominated arenas, such as the military. Moreover, film can serve as a medium to not only establish what is socially acceptable, but play an active role in the creation of one’s identity. Filmmakers past and present have employed the motif of masculinity in their war films, which put it at the center of the social structure and creates an overall acceptable cultural ideology. These filmmakers have established the overall rules, themes, and methods used as part of the war film genre. These rules, themes, and methods served well for pre-1970 American war cinema, when women were not allowed in the military as soldiers. However, as of 2003, female soldiers have grown to comprise twenty percent of the active soldiers and officers in the military. Studies on masculinity construction are well documented in World War II, Vietnam, and Gulf War-era combat films; however, little has been studied on post-9/11 American war films involving the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Using literature on masculinity constructs, both inside and outside of film, as well as social construction theory, identity theory, genre theory, and auteur theory, this dissertation textually examines masculinity construction in six post-9/11 American war films. This dissertation finds that the contemporary war genre continues to construct masculinity similar to past eras of war film. Comradery, the warrior image, not showing emotion, having a violent demeanor, and the demonization of women and cowardice were all prevalent in one or more of the films analyzed in this study. However, there were many nontraditional masculine ideals that were implemented, such as women being present and taking an active role as soldiers, as well as women being portrayed in the warrior image. The films analyzed demonstrate that the war film genre is still depicting and therefore socially constructing masculinity in a way that was prevalent in pre-1970 war films. However, the genre is evolving and nontraditional masculinity constructs are starting to present themselves.

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  • 2019