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The Philosophy of War Films

edited by David LaRocca with contributions by David LaRocca, Fredric Jameson, Garrett Stewart, Stacey Peebles, Joshua Gooch, Burke Hilsabeck, Garry L. Hagberg, Robert Burgoyne, Inger S. B. Brodey, Holger Pötzsch, Andrew Fiala, K. L. Evans, Robert Pippin, Lawrence F. Rhu, and Elisabeth Bronfen

Availablepaperback$30.00s 978-0-8131-7622-2
Availablecloth$45.00x 978-0-8131-4168-8
The Philosophy of Popular Culture
538 pages  Pubdate: 09/21/2018  6 x 9  

LISTEN: David LaRocca discusses his book, The Philosophy of War Films, on the "Military History Inside Out” podcast. | Listen online here

LISTEN: The New Books Network features David LaRocca who discusses his release The Philosophy of War Films and how war films have impacted us. | Listen online here

Wars have played a momentous role in shaping the course of human history. The ever-present specter of conflict has made it an enduring topic of interest in popular culture, and many movies, from Hollywood blockbusters to independent films, have sought to show the complexities and horrors of war on-screen.

In The Philosophy of War Films, David LaRocca compiles a series of essays by prominent scholars that examine the impact of representing war in film and the influence that cinematic images of battle have on human consciousness, belief, and action. The contributors explore a variety of topics, including the aesthetics of war as portrayed on-screen, the effect war has on personal identity, and the ethical problems presented by war.

Drawing upon analyses of iconic and critically acclaimed war films such as Saving Private Ryan (1998), The Thin Red Line (1998), Rescue Dawn (2006), Restrepo (2010), and Zero Dark Thirty (2012), this volume’s examination of the genre creates new ways of thinking about the philosophy of war. A fascinating look at the manner in which combat and its aftermath are depicted cinematically, The Philosophy of War Films is a timely and engaging read for any philosopher, filmmaker, reader, or viewer who desires a deeper understanding of war and its representation in popular culture.

David LaRocca is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Cinema Department at Binghamton University, and recently was Visiting Scholar in English at Cornell University, Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York College at Cortland, and Lecturer in Screen Studies at Ithaca College. In addition to other books, he is the editor of The Philosophy of Charlie Kaufman and The Philosophy of Documentary Film: Image, Sound, Fiction, Truth.

LaRocca offers a synoptic anthology of essays that brings to our attention how war films can provoke contemplation and meditation because of the ways that such films inevitably focus on the mortality and vulnerability of human beings. The essays, written by an outstanding array of international scholars, work out various ways in which the genre can compel our thinking to become philosophical. This collection of essays constitute a significant contribution to not only the philosophy of the war film, but also to philosophy of film itself. -- Daniel Flory, Montana State University

War is a pervasive condition, a constitutive part of human experience. The war film genre is extensive and multiform. It is no surprise, then, that war films are provocations to philosophical thought. This important and timely edited collection has an extensive introduction that seeks answers to vital questions: What sort of a phenomenon is a war film? What do we think we mean when we speak of a war film? What are war films for? Can war as such be represented by film? The essays that follow illuminate myriad ethical, aesthetic, epistemological and ontological issues as they related to a broad range of representations of war. -- Guy Westwell, Film Studies, Queen Mary University of London

The philosophical reflections compiled in this book look at war films from a variety of perspectives. I commend editor David LaRocca for bringing together scholars who each, in different ways, engage the interdisciplinary mission of the inquiry into how war is depicted on screen. What is the philosophy of film, and then, of war films specifically? Do war films harbor a philosophy – of death, violence, love… - or does philosophy enrich the understanding of the cinematic of war? The Philosophy of War Films explores these questions and many more, connecting the reality of war with the art of filmmaking. -- Mieke Bal, University of Amsterdam

This volume offers rich and deeply thought-out consideration of the representation of war on film and of the ways filmic and now digital representation is deeply entangled with how we experience and think about war (up close or at a distance) in actual life. The book reaches back in film history but is especially provocative on war and its representation in the last decade—the situation we are living with now. The essays are fresh and surprising, showing the whole subject of war and film to be far more interesting, complex, and disturbing than in the standard thinking about war genre films that we are used to. -- Charles Warren, Boston University

The book offers multiple views of, as Kathryn Bigelow might put it, both the "microcosm" and the "macrocosm" of cinematic warfare, which may not always provide satisfying answers, but which certainly generates intriguing questions. Ultimately, this is what philosophy is about. -- Film-Philosophy

David LaRocca’s The Philosophy of War Films is a remarkable project that manages to skillfully cover the most pertinent issues in the field of war cinema. LaRocca’s collection is thoughtfully structured, which makes it a substantial source as a whole as well as enables scholars to use each of four sections independently, as logically and thematically completed parts. -- War, Literature, and the Arts

Meticulously examining an uncountable number of films, David LaRocca’s collection of essays The Philosophy of War … is a remarkable project that manages to skillfully cover the most pertinent issues in the field of war cinema. LaRocca’s collection is thoughtfully structured, which makes it a substantial source as a whole as well as enables scholars to use each of four sections independently, as logically and thematically completed parts. -- War Literature and the Arts

LaRocca makes many insightful observations, especially over the relation between the truth of war and the images of war on screen. -- Milwaukee Express

Moviegoers who want to find meaning in their motion pictures — reverently called “films” in this collection — might enjoy surfing through the 15 scholarly essays. -- Military Times

This self-explanatory volume, which represents another fine effort from the University Press of Kentucky’s series of film books, is well-assembled by editor LaRocca and neatly divided into four distinct — and distinctive — categories. -- YES! Weekly

These [essays] offer interesting insights on combat, warriors and veterans, and society at war as depicted on screen….some valuable observations in the book. -- NYMAS Review