Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Media Studies


Dennis Kinsey


Gettysburg, Historical fiction, American Civil War

Subject Categories

Communication | Film and Media Studies


Media productions have often turned to history as a source for a narrative. Wars have been refought, kingdoms have risen and fallen, and significant moments have been replicated for documentaries, films, television shows, radio productions, and other live mediums. These presentations give audiences access to moments in history that might have otherwise been forgotten. With this access, research suggests audiences will actually learn from the presentations available. This study focuses on the types of information available in a historical film.

The study is a textual analysis the 1993 film Gettysburg, one of the most well-known and best remembered films about the American Civil War. Gettysburg is a piece of historical fiction that contains many dramatic inventions, yet is also full of depictions of war that attempt to be realistic. Through character dialogue and actions, the film's three main themes emerge. The first main theme is the idea that Gettysburg was the American Civil War's decisive moment. The second main theme is that war is a test of manhood- a test some men pass and some men fail. The third main theme is that all of the battle's participants, both North and South, are heroes. These factors seem to encourage the audience to view the Civil War as an important struggle that helped shape the United States as it is today.


Open Access