When the woman returns: re-visions of homecoming in postwar american film

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This essay discusses the ‘médiagénie’ of the homecoming film sub-genre in the years following the end of World War II and the ways in which gender subverts its rhetorical tradition. As with traditional narratives, films work on the basis of a narrative disposition, which may be disrupted, subverted, and fragmented. The homecoming film builds traditionally on a male narrative, the Nostoi tradition, which from the Odyssey onwards has shaped the tale of the soldier’s return home from war. Drawing on the changing socio-political conditions of the postwar years and the way in which film contributed to both aiding and subverting them, this es-say contends that the homecoming film remediates traditional narrative logic and articulates it with an emerging gender discourse that paves the way for feminist revisions of the classical Hollywood narrative from the 1970s onwards. Despite the overwhelming male figuration of the homecoming narrative in postwar film, a counter-discourse was becoming apparent and had already been prepared under the patriotic agenda of the war effort in such films as Mark Sandrich’s So Proudly We Hail! (1943). This essay addresses figurations of female return narratives in representative instances of American postwar film (I’ll Be Seeing You, The Search) in order to discuss the following issues: how the hegemonic male home-coming narrative affects the female return; whether film presents an empowering narrative that responds to a different awareness of woman’s role in the postwar effort; how genre adapts/co-opts the woman’s homecoming.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMedia inter media
EditorsStephanie A. Glaser
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9789042028432
ISBN (Print)9789042028425
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

Publication series

NameStudies in Intermediality Online


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