Document Type


Date of Degree


Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Film Studies

First Advisor

Rick Altman


This dissertation examines a cycle of Hollywood films that spans over a decade, and which engages with and privileges a historical and geopolitical framework to address America's encounters and confrontations with the Middle East. At one level, these films map the 9/11 terrorist attacks onto various sites and histories that signify a contentious relationship between the Middle East and the United States (including Islamic fundamentalism, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Arab-Israeli conflict, or the struggle over oil). In doing so they incorporate and absorb elements from other media (the Internet, television, journalism) to augment and authorize film's signifying capacities. At another level, and in tension with this dispersal, these post-9/11 films regulate and manage these histories through the generic and narrative mechanisms of the action, conspiracy or combat film.

If these films privilege a discourse of investigation and expertise that postulates scientific neutrality, and even a technologized view of the Middle East, they alternately mobilize trauma and victimization discourse to delineate, prioritize and redeem the American male body. In addition, the construction of the Middle East in post-9/11 Hollywood cinema in terms of space (vis-à-vis the emphasis on cartography, geography, and surveillance technologies) and time (real time, instantaneity, pastness), plays a central role in the strategies and practices that have contributed to the production of knowledge about the region since 9/11. Focusing primarily on post-9/11 American intelligence and military narratives, this study explores what is at stake in the cinematic struggle to accommodate, but ultimately, recast history in light of U.S.-Middle East relations.


9/11, Cartography, Contemporary Hollywood, Identity Politics, Middle East, Trauma


viii, 207 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 190-207).


Copyright 2013 Linda Mokdad