Kieran Wakely (UCL) - 2020-21 Students

Cold War Classrooms: Educational Film and the Governance of Post-War American Society

During the Cold War the U.S. witnessed a boom in educational film production. This history was driven by the prerogatives of institutions that produced media to shape the behaviours and ideological norms of young citizens. Through extensive archival study of films and documents, this research will reconstruct and explicate the history of the classroom film industry and its role in shaping both people and the U.S. political economy, scrutinising the institutions and agendas that informed its growth, and analysing the consequences for educational practice. This research analyses how educational film was being used to influence the thoughts and behaviours of American youth. It explores the historical entanglement of corporate sponsorship in the production of classroom film, and the role that producers played in bridging the gap between corporate advertising and educational film. It situates classroom films within the context of America’s Cold War culture by examining the motivations of government in dovetailing educational initiatives with and for the benefit of foreign policy. Focussing on the economic and political logics that have shaped this media, this research will generate new critical perspectives on the intersection of educational film, U.S. political economy, and the radicalisation of liberalism during the Cold War.

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