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Week Twelve: World War II

Page history last edited by mwitgen@... 9 years, 10 months ago



November 18: Militarization and the War Industry




  • Watch: The Columbia
  • John Gold, "Roll on Columbia" (resources on Ctools)
  • Eve Vogel, "Defining One Pacific Northwest Among Many Possibilities," in The Western Historical Quarterly Vol. 42, No. 1 (Spring 2011) (ctools/coursepack).
  • Robert Carriker, Ten Dollars a Song 



Study Questions 


1. How did electrification come to signify progress?  How was this representation of progress related to other earlier narratives about the relationship between American expansion and the settlement and civilization of North American wilderness?  Does the idea of bringing civilization to the wilderness in the film Columbia strike you as comparable to Frederick Jackson Turner's frontier thesis or not?  How do the ideas expressed in the film compare with Thomas Jefferson's idea of American expansion?


2. With rural electrification in the Columbia River Valley the federal government is the agent of change and promoter of progress.  How is this different or similar to other historical moments of America's western expansion in places like Texas, Kansas/Missouri, or California?


3. What does Gold mean when he describes Gutherie's songs as technological utopianism? How would you relate this to the writing of Frederick Jackson Turner?  How would you compare Gutherie's understanding of the relationship between humanity and nature with the ideas of John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt on the same subject?


4. How would you relate Columbia to John Ford's adaptation of the Grapes of Wrath to film?  What does the use of film do to historical narrative and what is the relationship between cultural production like The Grapes of Wrath, the Wild West Show, and a documentary film like Columbia, or photography sch as the migrant mother series shot by Dorthea Lange?  How does the narrative framing of the film Columbia compare to that of the Grapes of Wrath?  What are the stories each film is trying to tell?



November 20: Internment





Study Questions 


1. How does the office of war information film utilize the themes, ideas, images, and iconography of America's western expansion to tell the story of Japanese internment?


2. How does the photos by Dorthea Lange, the war office film, and executive order 9066 address the following questions -- was internment of the Japanese necessary?  Was it just, and did it live up to the ideals represented by the constitution of the United States? 


3. How does Lange use images to explain internment?


4. What are the rationales offered by the Supreme Court for the exclusion act and the internment of the Japanese occupants of Military area number 1 in the Hirabayashi case?  Do you agree with the courts assessment that internment did not constitute a denial of the 5th amendment right to due process?  What do you make of the concurring opinion written by Justice Murphy? What does he have to say about assimilation, racial difference, and the idea of liberty afforded to American citizens by the constitution?  Does Murphy's concurrence read like a dissent, and if so how does he reconcile his reasoning with the majority opinion?


5. In the Korematsu ruling Chief Justice Black denies that relocation occurred because of racial prejudice, but rather because of issues of national security.  How does Black's argument compare with the dissent offered by Justice Murphy?  What argument against relocation and internment is advanced by Murphy, and what are the points of disagreement with Black?






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