White Atlantics
: The Imagination of Transatlantic Whiteness in Film

  • Annamarie Kane

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The purpose of the project is to investigate the politics of hegemonic white Atlantics in film. Case studies were selected as paradigmatic of specific historical moments in the development of white Atlanticist discourses. The focus of analysis in each case was the representation of racialised whiteness in a context of its gradual decentring and a concomitant emergence of transnational identities in a post-national discursive paradigm. The argument presented here is that the white Atlantic is a political construct variously both resisted and produced in hegemonic and counter-hegemonic paradigms of racialised transatlantic whiteness. As such it is capable of mutation and inflection as it is deployed in the mobilisation of power.
    A range of textual analysis techniques and tools, including semiotics, genre and narrative analysis, were applied to the selected case studies. The methodology employed was derived from post-structuralist accounts of discourse as both constitutive and productive of identities, in which film may be understood as part of the cultural repertoire of signifiers of ‘what is on the mind’ of the producers and readers of white Atlanticist discourse.
    The project is limited by its substantive scope and methodological approach. Substantively, its scope is limited to film. Interrogation of other expressive forms would enlarge the scope to readings. The methodology also leads to an emphasis on a reading of the text, while the audience is assumed. An ethnographic methodology may offer different results. Most significantly, the project is limited by its case study scope. A fuller interpretation of the development of the white Atlantic in film requires a considerably more substantive transatlantic genealogy to interrogate its polyvalence in different times and locations.
    The project extends the academic study of racialised whiteness which has mainly been focused within national boundaries. It also extends the contemporary development of work on transatlantic whiteness of which the substantive research has been mainly of a historical nature. In extending the range of research in these ways, the project identifies and offers a reading of contemporary white Atlanticist discourses and their development. The case study readings suggest that, in the context of the progressive decentring of whiteness, polyvalent discourses of racialised transatlantic whiteness have emerged, articulated, in particular, via available tropes of romance and masculinity.
    Date of Award1 Oct 2010
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJude Davies (Supervisor) & Carol Smith (Supervisor)

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