The College of Liberal Arts' University Forum lecture series presents Mrs. Miniver Builds the Home Front: Domestic Space and Wartime Propaganda a talk by Melissa Dinsman, assistant professor, CUNY-York.
During the early 1940s, MGM adapted numerous wartime texts (both British and American) for the silver screen, including Mrs. Miniver, The Mortal Storm, and The White Cliffs of Dover. Each of these films presents the wartime environment’s effects on the family sphere, thereby labeling them domestic melodramas. This melodrama is heightened not only by the wartime setting, but also by household objects and a devolving architecture found in distinctly feminized spaces. By reading the architecture and household objects found in Mrs. Miniver, arguably MGM’s greatest wartime melodrama, as well as in Jan Struther’s original newspaper articles, I show that in the new era of total war all structures—social, narrative, cultural, industrial, even architectural and domestic—were engaged in mediating wartime propaganda, even if at times these home front objects strayed from the prevailing message of the day. But by reading MGM’s filmic space in Mrs. Miniver a new and much larger question emerges: whose home front and domestic space is being represented? With a British setting on a Hollywood sound stage and American films being co-written by British authors, it is not always clear if the home front being portrayed is, in reality, British or American.
This talk will include film clips and images for discussion.