• Syllabus: Irregular Warfare through Film

    C. Christine Fair (see profile)
    Motion pictures--Political aspects, Motion pictures--Social aspects
    Item Type:
    syllabus, Film and politics, Film and society
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    In its inception, the “war film” and its creators have played prominent roles in, inter alia, setting political agendas, advocating policies, constructing images of the enemy other, defining civilization, manufacturing consent for or opposition to war, recreating and reproducing race and gender stereotypes, and providing information about a conflict that shapes peoples’ opinion of the conflict irrespective of the film’s accuracy. Most Americans, as well as citizens of other countries, learn of conflicts through the cinematographic depiction of them rather than their formal study. Unfortunately, despite the pervasive influence of film and other forms of media culture, mainstream political science has generally considered these cultural artifacts unworthy of serious inquiry. This course departs from this intellectual position and contends that film can be an important medium through which we can understand international politics but, more importantly, think critically about how films facilitate such understandings. This course begins with an overview of the essential practices and significant “languages” that film makers and writers use to create meaning through film. Learning the “grammar” of films will enable students to become more cognizant of how war and related concepts are portrayed in the media cultural products they regularly consume and the understandings of those war such films facilitate. This course will focus upon irregular warfare, which the US military defines as: “a violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant populations. Irregular warfare favors indirect and asymmetric approaches, though it may employ the full range of military and other capabilities, in order to erode an adversary’s power, influence, and will.” After providing a foundation on how one reads a film, the subsequent classes will examine various examples of irregular wars.
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