November Update: Completing a Draft of my Film Chapter

Since my October update, I have completed the rough draft for one of my chapters for my honors thesis. Although it is not my first chapter, I decided to work on the chapter focusing on film representations of the Royal Flying Corps because I was most familiar with these sources and had thorough notes prepared for different scenes and had accompanying evidence from secondary sources. Below, I have included a very rough thesis for the chapter that I am in the process of reworking and discussing with my advisor. Excusing the wordiness, it outlines all the points of my argument I make I this chapter.

  • Rough Argument/Thesis: Although individual relationships on a smaller scale (i.e. between two squadron mates or a small group) can be seen as realistic, the overall view of group culture seen through the lens of squadron life in these films represents a more superficial camaraderie formed on the basis of a perceived difference in identities. Though their character dynamics in scenes varies by individual film, the overall film genre focused on the Royal Flying Corps creates a series of “us” vs “them” relationships. These different “us” vs “them” mentalities reflect a collectivism formed under the factors of war and united on a certain set of ideals formed and defined against another set of ideals, “an other”. This common “enemy” or “other”  can be more external than the overall collective, such as German pilots, or more internal, such as a division between different squadron members. These relationships are deeply rooted in different perceptions of the “ideal” British man that are portrayed through the lens of a Royal Flying Corps squadron. As there is not just one “us” vs “them” relationship present in each plot, these film representations are not only informative on how the public perceived the Royal Flying Corps, but also provide a social commentary on the time period by showing how these perceptions were interpreted to fit their own ideas of the “ideal”.  

One major change I made from my outline of the chapter is cutting down the number of sources I analyze in the chapter. Initially, I was going to explore six different film portrayals of the RFC: Hells Angels, Flight Commander, The Dawn Patrol, Aces High, Wings, and Blackadder Goes Forth: “Private Plane”. I was initially going to talk about the different representations in each and how these represent collective identity in the Royal Flying Corps. However, as I was writing, I found that I had more secondary sources and through analysis to support my sections on Flight Commander/The Dawn Patrol and Aces High. Looking at how thorough my analysis was for those sources, I am at a crossroads for how to approach the final draft for my chapter. I hope to discuss with my advisor if I should include all of these examples and cut down on the analysis for the three sources I have written about so far or if I should just continue with the three sources, choosing a quality over quantity approach. Personally, I am leaning towards just using the three sources, as I was able to make in depth analyses about different scenes and character relationships in the films and how these connect with societal constructions of masculinity. Also, by focusing on these films, I have covered the two main time periods the film representations appear: the 1930s and the 1970s. Check out the trailers for the The Dawn Patrol (1938)and Aces High (1976) below:

Before the final draft of the chapter is due on December 17, I hope to meet with my advisor to discuss the status of my draft and how to approach the aforementioned issue with my sources. Having at least one completed chapter going in to the winter break is a great step for the thesis, as then I can focus on either finishing an entire rough draft or at least have a thorough outline of each chapter before classes start back up in January. Below, I have included a list of the chapters I intend to do for my thesis and the progress I have made on each. 

  • Introduction: Thesis completed, other ideas outlined 
  • Background on the Royal Flying Corps: Outline in progress
  • Memoirs: Thorough notes, semi-outlined
  • Fiction: Notes
  • Films: Draft Completed
  • Conclusion