"A Distinct War-Time Spirit": How Hollywood Taught American Women How to Participate In and Understand World War II, 1940-1945

Title"A Distinct War-Time Spirit": How Hollywood Taught American Women How to Participate In and Understand World War II, 1940-1945
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsCranney, Skye
Number of Pages167
Date Published2018/05
UniversityUniversity of Wyoming. Department of History
CityLaramie
Thesis TypeM.A.
Abstract

During World War II, “women’s war films” modeled prescriptive behaviors to American women in a way that male-centric combat films did not, arguing against the secondary literature that states that women had a very limited role in wartime films and the war effort. By examining nineteen films, this thesis argues that Hollywood films made between 1940 and 1945 that featured main female characters taught American women how to participate in the war effort on the home front, as well as how to understand the war in terms of their allies and their enemies. The films also emphasized why it was important for the United States to be involved in the war. Lastly, female celebrities modeled proper patriotic behavior to American women not just as fictional characters but also as themselves. This thesis argues that together, women’s war films and the actions of women from Hollywood, prescribed behaviors to American women during the war through popular mass culture. These wartime films created a base upon which the feminine attitudes of the postwar era were built by examining the intersection of gender, popular culture, and national attitudes toward major events. [Author]

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1076493056

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