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    The captured mind: race, brainwashing, and American film, c1941-53

    Magor, Ian (2020) The captured mind: race, brainwashing, and American film, c1941-53. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    This thesis addresses a period when cinematic mythmaking, racial discourse, fears of captivity and mind control coalesced and provided some of the conceptual underpinnings of brainwashing. Throughout World War II and in the decades following, the United States government recognised its own segregated society as an impediment to its claims to lead the free world. Film and cinema were important tools in the attempt to steer Americans away from racist discourse and to convince the rest of the world that changes were afoot. This thesis focuses on the American use of film during, and in the immediate period after, World War II (from 1941 to 1953). It shows how the medium was used to try to reverse negative ideas relating to black Americans and to redeploy these against its wartime and postwar enemies. It does this through a close reading and contextualising of a range of films made in this period, from army training films to Hollywood blockbusters. The greatest fears of many white Americans – and the ground on which many filmmakers were most wary of treading – were attached to ‘race-mixing’, also known as miscegenation. Individual anxieties were heightened by the imminent, if gradual, dismantling of segregation. The Cold War seemingly introduced a new, racialised threat: communists. Fears of communism drew on much of the racialised logic of American culture. But it also amplified anxieties about persuasion and captivity – mind control, behaviour control, and what could possibly be changed, disguised, or perverted by enemies in order to infiltrate, and captivate, American society. Brainwashing was a powerful culmination of this cultural anxiety. And this thesis argues that there are significant crossovers of language and concepts concerning race and brainwashing, which become more apparent when we look at the history of film production and reception in this period.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2021 16:19
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 14:40


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