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The Role Of Images As Provided For In Miller's Book On The Topic (Book Review Sample)


Reviewing the role of images as provided for in miller's book on the topic


From Liberation to Conquest
Tutor’s Name
From Liberation to Conquest
In 1898, the United States entered into the Spanish-American war. This war led to the American imperial acquisition of the Spanish held Pacific and Caribbean territories. The American public overwhelmingly supported that war effort. In her book From Liberation to Conquest: The Visual and Popular Cultures of the Spanish-American War of 1898, Miller (2011) explores how the American media captured the American public’s interest in the Cuban crisis, through depictions of Spanish blood thirst in the region, leading to the great public support for the war.
Miller (2011) argues that images are powerful tools for shaping the society’s cultural perceptions. In her book From Liberation to Conquest, Miller explores the evolution of the American cultural representation of the 1898 Spanish-American war, from pre-war extended patriotism, into glorification of the American armed forces, and finally into a post-war disillusionment over the war, and subsequently settling into discordant debates over imperialism. Racial and gender critical notions of American identity shaped the day’s discourse over the war at each of the stages analyzed, creating a fluid field of changing opinion. Miller (2011) argues that the cultural expressions presented to the public shaped this discourse. Miller surveys the content of newspapers of the day from around the country, and study’s motion pictures, photographs, stage plays and other cultural expressions of the time, to provide a clear presentation of the symbols, alongside the coded subtexts, that structured the American public’s opinion on the country’s foreign policy.
Miller’s perception of the notion of images includes both the written and unwritten representation of cultural phenomena. Miller (2011) uses illustrations from the considered period to show the directed shift in opinion over the course of the war. The book heavily focuses on cultural expressions, which serve an explanatory function. For instance, in just a few months, opinion shifts from the prewar jingoist praise to extensive debate over imperialism and America’s role in the world issues and politics. Most historical analysis of the war mainly focus on the mismanagement of the American war effort. In a departure from this style, Miller focuses on how the media’s coverage of the problems in the American military created an opportunity, into the public’s purview, for some shift in the uncritical salutation of the American military, to a more skeptical approach in viewing America’s goals. The book further illustrates the wavering views of the American media presentation, depending on the time and the action taking place in the war.
The images deployed by the American opinion shapers over the 1898 Spanish-American war shaped the public perception of the war (Miller, 2011). The book shows how the media, such as newspapers reflect the public’s prejudices, while simultaneously shaping its opinion. Miller’s book convincingly focuses on the transition of public opinion regarding the war, from an extensive pre-war enthusiasm chorused in the media entities, to a dissenting debate on American imperialism. Before the war, the depictions are of strong American military men, who are sure to defeat the villainous Spanish and liberate an effeminate Cuba. Upon commencement of the war, the poor management of the effort results in massive casualties to diseases and malnutrition, even more than to actual combat. The war exposes feature dramatically emaciated American troops, who are disease ridden and weak, in no condition to take over the massive responsibility of acquiring and maintaining an overseas territorial empire.
Miller (2011) argues that wide range of cultural productions over the war, presented through the extensive media spectacle created the stage for how the readers and viewers came to understand the war and it imperialistic conclusion. Miller presents the shifts in perspectives in media presentation of the war effort, from being a campaign of liberation, to being the cause for imperialism. During the approach of a US intervention, Cuba is frequently presented as a feminized victim, desperately in need of American (manly) liberation from the hands of the marauding Spanish villains. The explosion of the USS Maine further solidified the need for American intervention in the war. Miller (2011) notes that the countless depictions of the explosion of the Maine, throughout the American visual and print media, and throughout popular culture, became the subtext for major propelling themes for the need for American intervention in Cuba. These themes included the increased aggressiveness of Spain, for ‘attacking’ the US, the vulnerability of Cuba, and the intrinsic ’manliness’ of the American country. Further, racially charged epithets were used to direct public opinion. For example, the cartoonists’ depiction of the Filipino leader Emilio Aguinaldo changed his race frequently, depending on perceived usefulness by the American public. As an US ally against Spain, he is presented as a well-groomed white gentleman. Upo...
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