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Specters of the Cold War in America's century : the Korean War and transnational politics of national imaginaries in the 1950s

  • Author(s): Hwang, Junghyun
  • et al.

This dissertation explores the ways in which American as well as South Korean cultures of the 1950s, particularly in the transnational entanglements of the Korean War, functioned as crucial sites for rationalizing Cold War politics while negotiating national imaginaries under the emerging stipulations of global politics and power. In the first introductory chapter, I contextualize the rationale of Cold War politics within the Western epistemological tradition as well as specific historical conditions of the Cold War and the Korean War. The second chapter investigates Cold War liberalism as the dominant ideology of 1950s America, which re-visioned the national imaginary of Manifest Destiny through a discursive integration of racial, sexual and national others while the juxtaposition of John Okada's 1957 novel No-No Boy unveils inherent ambiguities in the logic of inclusivity. Next two chapters focus on American popular representations of the Korean War, including William Styron's The Long March (1952) and David Douglas Duncan's photo-essay This Is War! (1951) in Chapter III, and several Hollywood Korean War films such as The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1955) and Battle Hymn (1957) in Chapter IV. These chapters explore how American nationalism merged with the Cold War global imaginary of "benevolent supremacy," and how this brand of Cold War Americanism was premised upon the recuperation of white masculinity through the representational incorporation of Cold War otherness into the metaphoric regime of marriage and the family. Chapter V shifts attention to the 1950s Korean society and the ways in which modern Korea was constructed in the transnational turmoil of war, Cold War ideology, Western modernity, and colonial legacies by scrutinizing South Korean films such as Hell Flower (1958) and The Stray Bullet (1961). Finally, in my sixth chapter, I attempt to put the Cold War in a broader historical perspective by juxtaposing the original Hollywood film The Manchurian Candidate (1962) with the 2004 remake as an occasion to ponder upon (dis)continuities of history from the Korean War to the Gulf War

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