Spring 2023 - War, Myth, and Masculinity in the U.S.
In the 2008 documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster, Chris Bell begins with the World Wide Wrestling Federation’s carnivalesque version of geopolitics, as Hulk Hogan battled The Iron Sheik during the 1984 season. Bell tells a story about his two brothers on steroids, but the film is also about how athleticism and militarism have been intertwined to confuse, amuse, and distract. Bell points out that the U.S. Congress spent more hours during 2005 investigating steroid use in Major League Baseball than on the response to Hurricane Katrina or on the Iraq War. We will consider myths of masculinity and war in the U.S., using film, historiography, podcasts, and readily available chapters and essays. Readings may include selections from War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War(John Dower); Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man (Susan Faludi); and Black Sexual Politics (Patricia Hill Collins). Films may include Modern Times, High Noon, The Defiant Ones, The Fog of War, Friday Night Lights, Sorry to Bother You, and Get Out. Assignments include participation in discussion and 2-3 page close-reading papers on the reading or film for that week.