History ETDs

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Radio drama in America between the years 1939 and 1945 both reflected the domestic life of its citizens and helped direct it. The United States government, independent organizations, broadcast networks, and individual producers deployed radio drama to promote the entry of the United States onto the world stage both by military intervention in World War II and as a democratic conciliator in shaping the postwar world. My thesis addresses the question of whether radio drama deployed as propaganda during World War II acted solely to reinforce an extant American ideology necessary for the conduct of the war or if it was also to act as a tool of progressive domestic and international reform to reshape the postwar world. Central to the ideology of progressive radio propagandists was the idea of incorporating the national character into an international perspective. I present an overview of theoretical modes of interpretation applied in modern radio studies and an examination of several historiographical studies of radios role in the political and cultural lives of Americans. I critique radio plays in terms of text through a deep listening to them. There is a historiographical turn toward considering audients' reception and interpretation of sounds in historical periods as specific and unique to that period; in the case of radio propaganda, audients are receptive to political ideas that are unique to the sounds of their time. I argue that if, as cultural theorists assert, the medium is the message, then the nature of radio itself helped to frame the ideology necessary for the conduct of the war, to determine war aims, and to promote those aims as necessary to the American people.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Bokovoy, Melissa

Second Committee Member

Sandoval-Strausz, Andrew



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