The Civil War, Pathos Formula, and Genre Memory
  • John Trafton


In the Ken Burns’s documentary The Civil War, historian Shelby Foote described what he saw as the importance of the war in American national identity and cultural memory: “Before the war, it was said ‘the United States are.’ Grammatically, it was spoken that way and thought of as a collection of independent states. And after the war, it was always ‘the United States is,’ as we say today without being self-conscious at all. And that’s the sum of what the war accomplished. It made us an ‘is’” (Burns 1990).


Hibernation Period Narrative Strategy Representational Mode Trench Warfare Gettysburg Address 
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  1. 6.
    Although The Green Berets (1968) was released as the war was still in progress (and directly dealt with the war), it was not received at the time as a serious-minded treatise on the war but rather as a jingoist call to arms and a condemnation of how the war was being reported, both seen as grossly out of step with what was increasingly becoming the national mood. Sidney J. Furie’s The Boys of Company C (USA/Hong Kong, d) is generally seen as one of the first objective (nondocumentary) Vietnam War films.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    For further reading on Bakhtin, see Gary Morson and Caryl Emerson’s Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of Prosaics (Redwood City: Stanford University Press, 1990).Google Scholar

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  • John Trafton

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