US National Archives and Records Administration

I’ve just returned from an amazingly fruitful trip to the US National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, MD (aka NARA II) where I was researching the history of the American Forces Television Network. Thanks, in part, to Larry Suid, who wrote the official fiftieth anniversary history of the AFRTS and kept meticulous records–including transcripts of the 130 or so interviews he did with various founders, DJs, on-air personalities, engineers, Hollywood liaisons, and policy makers–I found a goldmine!

AFKN Pamphlet, circa 1960s

Pamphlet for AFKN, circa 1960s. NARA II, College Park, MD.

Records at NARA II include the textual records of the Department of Defense and the US Information Agency (USIA), as well as millions of still photos, posters and graphics from all military branches, and very rare film and audio footage from USIA overseas activities, military radio and TV programs, indoctrination materials, and so on. Best of all, the motion picture division will allow you to tape, record, or download copies of stuff that has been processed for public viewing. Alas, much stuff has NOT been so processed; thus, I recommend contacting the Motion Picture, Sound and Video Research Room staff well before you visit so they can transfer non-public materials to a publicly consumable form before you arrive!

I know some of you have also visited the site, but for those who haven’t, you should contact the archivists at least 6 weeks before your visit to ensure materials are there, available and cleared for use (if necessary). Be as specific as possible about the materials you are interested in, including file and box numbers if they are listed in the NARA catalogue: Note that many specifics are not listed in the catalogue, but your first day involves a consultation with a staff member who can help you identify materials and fill out pull slips. On day 1, arrive early to get a “Researcher’s Card,” which takes about 15 minutes, then go directly to the consulting room. Pull your stuff and go! They have a limited number of scanning stands available for both cameras and iphones. I used one of the stands for iPhone and the ScannerPro app ($3.99) to copy 35 boxes worth of material in 5 days and sent it all immediately to the cloud! Needless to say, I highly recommend ScannerPro.

If you have visited an archive or found a digital source worth sharing with our members, register to contribute to the site. Post your thoughts, and we’ll make sure they get shared!

Media and War MOOC

This from member Andrew McLoughlin. Sign up ASAP if you’re interested. If you take the course, let us know. We’d love to have a review/debrief when you’re done:
I thought this free course from The University of Queensland might interest some of our SIG members, maybe even to share with students. It’s 2-4 hours per week for 7 weeks, and you can either audit the course or take it for credit (for $99).

Here’s the link to enroll. I’m auditing right now, and the deadline to switch to credit is a month away if anyone wants to try it out first.

FB plug from Roger Stahl (author of Militainment, Inc.: War, Media, and Popular Culture): 

Here’s a cool thing. For the low, low price of free, you can enroll in an online course on global media and war – a subject that some of you know has captured my interest for some time. A colleague of mine at the University of Queensland, Seb Kaempf, received a big pot of cash to travel the world, interview experts, visit sites, and put this together. He is one of the foremost experts on the subject himself. You will find no better primer on the subject. He dives deep – from Glenn Greenwald and Wikileaks, to military research facilities, to ISIS, to official propaganda, to those working in cyberwar and the dark web. Lions, tigers, and bears. Academic sympathizers, pass this on. Some great material for the classroom at the very least.



Here’s some official text from this MOOC (Massive Open Online Course): Global Media, War, and Technology: Explore the intersection of information technology, violent conflict, and resistance. The experience of war has changed fundamentally – not only for those fighting and reporting, but also for those on the home front. High-tech nations wage wars from a distance using satellite-guided weaponry while non-state military actors, terrorist organizations, and citizen journalists have increasingly added new voices and visual perspectives to the conversation about conflict. The ubiquity of smartphones, internet access, and social media transports the experience and complexity of war directly into our lives. Cyberspace offers greater freedoms and access to information at the same time as we discover a dramatic global rise of cyber espionage, internet censorship, and surveillance. In this course, we map this emerging new terrain where violent conflict, information technology, and global media intersect and where the old distinctions between battlefront and home front, between soldier and civilian, between war and entertainment, and between public and private are being redrawn. Enroll now (for free) in ‘MediaWarX’, a brand-new open online course (MOOC):

CFP: Representations of Sexual Assault in Media (SCMS 2018)

A CFP for SCMS 2018, from Capt. John Garofolo, US Coast Guard:
I’m a former professor at the Coast Guard Academy (Ph.D. USC Cinematic Arts; M.A USC Annenberg) and I’m currently the Coast Guard Liaison to the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. . . .
I was mulling over the possibility of putting together a paper proposal for next year’s SCMS on Representations of Sexual Assault in the Military and realized that it had the potential to be part of a much broader panel  on the  Representation of Sexual Assault in all forms of media.
If you are interested in contributing to such a panel, send thoughts, ideas or suggestions to John at or
If you want to post your own call for papers, register to become a user of the War and Media Studies website. Once registered, create a post, and use the category “Collaborate” to feature the post here.

SCMS Call for Papers (DUE 08-31-17)

2018 Call for Proposals

The Society for Cinema and Media Studies announces its call for proposals for the 2018 conference.  Please join us Wednesday, March 14 through Sunday, March 18, 2017 at the Sheraton Centre Toronto.  The 2018 SCMS Conference Program Committee welcomes quality proposals on any topic related to cinema and media studies.

See Submitting a Proposal to SCMS: Guide for Success for helpful information on submitting a proposal.

The deadline for Thursday, August 31, 2017, 5:00 PM Central Standard Time.

Click here to access the conference submissions portal.

(Use your username and password to login.)

You can also use the War and Media Studies Facebook Group page to find partners for a panel, or register here to post a CFP to our “Collaborate” page

AHA’s GI Pamphlets (WWII; US DOD)

So, once again, in pursuit of my own research interests, I’ve discovered a trove of online materials that others might find useful. The American Historical Association, it seems, produced a series of pamphlets under the rubric “GI Roundtable” in the 1940s. Here’s how the AHA describes the series:

As texts, the AHA’s G.I. Roundtable series provides a unique insight into a particular moment in time. . . .

The G.I. pamphlet series was prepared under the direction of the Army’s Division of Information and Education between 1943 and 1945 “to increase the effectiveness of the soldiers and officers as fighters during the war and as citizens after the war.” The accent in the pamphlets is on what the postwar world would look like, and reassuring servicemen that they would have a place in postwar America.


Of particular interest are the pamphlets:

Pamphlet from the AHA's GI Roundtable series: "What is Propaganda?"

Pamphlet from the AHA’s GI Roundtable series: “What is Propaganda?”

What is Propaganda? which offers a comprehensive overview of 1940s thinking about propaganda and how to properly conduct it in a democratic society.


GI Radio Roundtable — a how-to guide for hosting your own radio chat session with GI’s, whom, we’re told, “like to talk things over”


How Far Should the Government Control Radio? — A real question in war time as the government struggled to craft a positive message for the home front but held little control over the airwaves.


What is the Future of Television? — which considers the likely shape and impact of television on government, businesses, individuals and families after the war. A nice snapshot of TV’s state of development circa 1945.

I also came across the “Handbook for Military Government in Germany” while searching for info on radio in post-war occupied Germany. It’s the full handbook, so you can see for yourself the instructions US Army personnel were given in 1946. It includes info about how to handle radio and film–both production facilities and movie releases–among other things.

Finally, some of you may know this tome, but I somehow missed it until now (insert hand smacking head emoji): David Culbert and Lawrence Suid’s Film and Propaganda in America: A Documentary History, 1945 and AfterIt’s full of amazing primary source material regarding relations between the US Defense Department and film producers and distributors. A literal gold mine! 

I’m off to the National Archives to dig into the history of the American Forces Television Network. Will file a report on that when I return! Until then, happy document hunting.

The World War II Combat Film: Anatomy of a Genre, by Jeanine Basinger

Tanine Allison, Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at Emory University, offers the first of what we hope will be a regular collection of reviews of Key Works in war and media studies. Tanine’s own manuscript on the visual aesthetics of the WWII combat film, Destructive Sublime: WWII in American Film and Media, should be out from Rutgers UP in 2018 (spoiler alert about a new contract for one of our members). Thanks to Tanine for getting us started!

The World War II Combat Film, by Jeanine BasingerJeanine Basinger’s comprehensive look at American World War II combat films is one of the formative studies of the war genre. Although the book looks solely at American combat films (in which fighting is central to the narrative and aesthetic form of the film) that are set during World War II, its impact has reached beyond this relatively narrow category because of the massive influence the conventions of these films had on the development of war-related filmmaking in other eras and other countries. Therefore, it’s often necessary to have a firm grasp on the tropes of World War II combat films if one is to have a full understanding of how other war films create meaning. As a compendium of these tropes, Basinger’s book has established itself as a must-read for anyone investigating the role combat plays in contemporary war media.

One of Basinger’s major claims is that the World War II combat film is a genre in and of itself, not merely a subgenre of the war film. She makes this case by analyzing hundreds of American combat films set during World War II, giving particular emphasis to those films made during the war itself. For Basinger, the major narrative conventions of the genre congealed in five quintessential combat films released in 1943: Sahara, Guadalcanal Diary, Air Force, Destination Tokyo, and Bataan. The conventions established by these films include the ethnically mixed group of soldiers that overcomes internal conflicts to become a cohesive fighting unit, the reluctant hero who is forced to become the leader of the group, the important military objective that the group must achieve, and typical narrative elements like burials, outnumbered heroes, discussion of “why we fight,” mail call, a dedication to the fighting forces, and a last stand against the enemy.

The World War II Combat Film was first published in 1986, when it seemed as if the “good war” could not adequately speak to audiences in the post-Vietnam era. However, Basinger published a revised and updated version of the book in 2003 to account for the rising nostalgia for the Second World War in the 1990s, which culminated in Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan in 1998. In addition to elucidating the typical narrative conventions of the genre, Basinger traces their origins in films about World War I and other early 20th-century conflicts.  She also uses much of the book to explore the evolution of the genre over time, arguing that the repeated appearances of World War II on American movie screens reflects changing cultural notions of what the war was about, as well as reflections of current conflicts, such as Vietnam. The book includes an extensive filmography with descriptions of nearly all American World War II combat films released between 1941 and 2002 (in the revised edition).

Basinger’s book is essential for any scholar (or student) of the war genre, and it is written is an accessible, almost conversational tone. In my own work, I have found it a cornerstone, but I also worry that its elucidation of genre conventions can be taken to be monolithic or settled, when the genre also displays such variation and originality. Basinger focuses more on narrative than aesthetics, so her book neglects some of the truly weird and wonderful audiovisual innovations of combat sequences from the 1940s to today. And because of when it was written, she does not address television series like Band of Brothers (2001) and The Pacific (2010) or combat video games like Medal of Honor (1999-) or Call of Duty (2003-) that explicitly reference and transform the conventions of World War II combat films. I address these more recent works in relation to Basinger’s foundational study in my upcoming book on the aesthetics of combat sequences in American World War II media.

Website Developments

Now that school’s out for summer, I’ve finally gotten around to refreshing the War and Media Studies website a bit. You will notice in the “Resources” section that I have

  • added the H-Net news feeds to the CFP page for additional calls in the field
  • Created a “Teaching War and Media” page through which we can distribute syllabi and class exercises as requested by members at this year’s SCMS meeting
  • Created a new page with Podcasts of interest to those working in war and media (though mostly war-related)
  • Split off the Blog Feeds from the Scholarly Journals for easier access to both.

Daniel has also posted this month’s “From the Feeds” summary, so be sure to check it out.

Other projects in the works:

  • Book Reviews in the Field — we’ve tapped some members to deliver the first reviews of canonical works in war and media studies. Hopefully, we’ll be posting the first soon.
  • Collaborative programming for SCMS 2018, with the Transnational Studies SIG and the Women’s Caucus. Details coming soon.

Calls for contributions

  • Teaching Materials — for the new Teaching War and Media Page. We’ll take sample syllabi, class exercises, clever assignments, etc.
  • Book Reviews — if you have a favorite text in the field, consider writing up a brief (200-300 word) introduction to its fabulousness for our members
  • Works in Progress —  if you are working on a draft of a new article, chapter or book and would like some member feedback, we can help you post and field comments from the SIG.

You can contact any of the SIG leadership if you want to contribute:

Stacy Takacs <>

Becca Harrison <>

Daniel Grinberg <>

UT Austin — One Year VAP

Some of you might be interested in this opportunity:

I’m writing to announce a 2017-2018 visiting faculty position in media studies in my department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin.  We are seeking a one-year Lecturer (what would be called a Visiting Assistant Professor at some universities) in film, television, or digital media studies with expertise in race/ethnicity, gender, or queer studies or activist/alternative media.  A Ph.D. in Media Studies or closely related field by the time of appointment is required. The job announcement and application information can be found here:

Please be in touch with me at or with Alisa Perren at if have questions about the position or the application process. Alisa and I are both at SCMS and would be happy to talk in person with interested applicants.

Thanks, and best wishes,

Mary Beltrán

Associate Professor


University of Texas at Austin

Government Information Manual for the Motion Picture Industry

Find of the month…

Did you know that Indiana University has placed a fully digitized copy of the US Government Information Manual for the Motion Picture Industry online. The collection includes talking point memos, as well as the general manual. Here are the details:

Government Information Manual for the Motion Picture Industry
Corp Author(s): United States. Office of War Information. Bureau of Motion Pictures.
Publication: [Washington, D.C. : Office of War Information,
Year: 1942.]

From the Feeds [3-17-2017]

CFPs of interest in this month’s feeds

Why Remember? Memory and Forgetting in Times of War and Its Aftermath Conference. Sarajevo, Bosnia, June 30th, July 1st, July 2nd 2017

Deadline for submissions: March 31, 2017; Contact:

Restoring Peace: Building Post-Conflict Societies conference, The Archbishop Desmond Tutu Centre for War and Peace Studies, Liverpool Hope University, July 3, 2017
Deadline for submissions: April 15, 2017; Contact:

War of the Worlds: Transnational Fears of Invasion and Conflict 1870-1933 conference; The Invasion Network at the Department of History Lancaster University, September 8, 2017
Deadline for submissions: April 30, 2017; Contact:

“History is Not Was, History Is” – A Conference on 9/11; National September 11 Memorial & Museum, New York City, June 15, 2017.
Deadline for submissions: April 1, 2017; Contact:

Call for chapters: Agatha Christie Goes to War (edited collection)
Editors: Dr. J.C. Bernthal (Middlesex Univ) and Dr. Rebecca Mills (Bournemouth Univ)

“Seeking 300-500 word abstracts for contributions of 6000-8000 words that take a global and in-depth approach to wars and their traces in Christie’s work and a brief biographical note.”

Deadline for abstracts: 30th June 2017. Estimated deadline for finished chapters: 30th November 2017. Contact:


Articles of interest

Akil, Hatem N. “Cinematic Terrorism: Deleuze, ISIS and Delirium.” Journal for Cultural Research 20.4 (2017): 366-379.

Kamali, Sara. “Informants, Provocateurs, and Entrapment: Examining the Histories of the FBI’s PATCON and the NYPD’s Muslim Surveillance ProgramSurveillance & Society 15.1 (2017): 68-78.

Zimdars, Melissa. “Inactive Duty: Weight-Loss Television, Military Fatness, and Disciplinary Discrepancy.” Television & New Media 18.3 (2017): 218-234.

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