My research examines the intersection of documentary film and digital media in the politically charged environment of the United States over the last decade. Given its long history as a tool for independent political persuasion and mobilization, documentary film seemed a natural fit for the polarized political landscape that emerged in 2000-01 with the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 and subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As new forms of digital media altered the traditional means by which people organized and shared information, however, documentary’s traditional role began to shift even as the success of filmmakers like Michael Moore and Errol Morris brought it to new levels of cultural and social prominence. My dissertation seeks to explore the various encounters between these two forms of media across a range of texts from theatrically released films focused on the role of networked warfare to the use of virtual environments to document secret prisons and terrorist training camps. Throughout, I argue that the documentary tradition informs and shapes the use of emerging media in political contexts even as the process of digitization further condemns these notions to an inevitable obsolescence.
krisfallon [at] berkeley [dot] edu