Myth, Memory and Militarism: The Evolution of an American War Narrative




Creed, Pamela M

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This dissertation uses positioning theory and narrative analysis to examine the relationship of culture, emotion and agency in the dramatic construction, mobilization and acceptance of an American war narrative and later of individual counter narratives. The study takes the events of 9.11 as a traumatic trigger, or crisis, and then demonstrates that the storylines in the 9.11/Iraq War narrative patterns were anchored more in American mythological constructs, public memories and militarism than content about terrorism or Iraq. In the second phase, I present micro-narratives of veterans of the Iraq War. I analyze how they understood the presenting storylines by attempting to discern the strength of the cultural influence inherent in the narrative patterns. Finally, I describe the impact of the personal experience of serving in Iraq – living the intended trajectory of the narrative. I attempt to locate shifts in attitudes or perceptions, which may have resulted in the repositioning of self or discourse. Throughout the study I examine the role of emotions, particularly anger, pride (honor), shame and humiliation.



Iraq War, President G.W. Bush, Narrative transformation, Positioning theory, Humiliation, Theories of emotion