Responses to M*A*S*H, Catch 22 and Kelly’s Heroes: developing a method of investigating changes in discourse

Whittlesea, Timothy (2017) Responses to M*A*S*H, Catch 22 and Kelly’s Heroes: developing a method of investigating changes in discourse. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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The war-comedy films M*A*S*H and Catch 22 are frequently discussed in academia as related to the anti-Vietnam War movement and the counterculture movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Kelly’s Heroes, also a war-comedy film released in 1970, and thematically similar to M*A*S*H and Catch 22, is rarely discussed as such.

This research suggests that the relationship these films have with the Vietnam War may be overstated, misrepresented or more complicated than previously thought. In examining this relationship the research presented here explores a methodology which seeks to trace changes within the critical and academic discourses which surround the three films.

Rather than assessing and attempting to understand the film texts in isolation, this thesis assesses the (often changing) meanings that have been associated with them since they were released, to provide a more holistic expansive understanding of their perceived position in North American culture.

To do this a method was developed that sought to contextualise and analyse the reviews, marketing material and newspaper articles related to the films. This method, which focusses on what was written about the films rather than analysis of the films themselves as a way of exploring how they were being perceived, draws upon the relationships which exist between these texts, placing them in context both with each other and the wider cultural milieu.

The research traces changing perceptions of the films’ genres, the relationships between the values associated with them and their positions in the film canon, and the impact of events ancillary to the films on the ways they have been understood. It shows that it is possible to demonstrate how certain ways of understanding the film texts came to dominate the discourse which surrounds them, demonstrating the viability of, and value in, longitudinal tracking of discursive trends.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Users 9280 not found.
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2017 08:20
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2017 08:20

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