When fiction gets real: representations of American cultural issues during the Vietnam era
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameBachelor of Arts (Hons)
This dissertation investigates the underlying issues in American culture at the time of the Vietnam War, through the study of three cultural texts. Historically, scholarship on the Vietnam War tends to focus on the issue of the war itself, and its impact on American soldiers and society. This dissertation demonstrates that despite the prominence of the Vietnam War in society, and cultural memory, other key issues did impact on American culture. Three main texts examined for their representation of American culture are: the television show M*A*S*H*, the novels In Country and The Things They Carried. Each chapter discusses the way the texts both represented and evaluated the key cultural concerns of American society at the time of the Vietnam War. They also identify the ways in which the texts facilitate societal engagement in culture, and how they enabled processes of healing. These texts reveal that the United States was undergoing a period of great change and turmoil, as a result of not only the Vietnam War, but other prominent cultural issues. This dissertation uses these texts to confirm the relevance of cultural texts as representations of culture, and also their significance as methods of dealing with trauma.