Categories
HIST OF MENTAL HEALTH IN THE US

Proposal and Annotated Bibliography

PROPOSAL

The proposed topic for this research topic is the impact of diet culture and media on eating disorders in young women in the late 20th to early 21st century. This project attempts to explore how the emergence of diet culture and an increased media presence impacted young women with eating disorders. Diet culture that is portrayed in the media can be especially harmful to young women, as it often presents women in the media in an ideal shape or size. A standard is then set, which is usually quite unrealistic for women to achieve. For some women who are already predisposed to an eating disorder, whether it be anorexia, bulimia, or another common mental illness, diet culture can have a much larger impact. While diet culture and its presence in mainstream media has the capacity to impact all people, this project will be focused on women who have diagnosed eating disorders. This project will mostly involve using personal narratives from those who have suffered from eating disorders, including “The Eating Instinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America” and “Anorexia Nervosa and Recovery: A Hunger for Meaning.” The use of personal stories of journeys through an eating disorder provides a more in-depth look at the root causes of eating disorders. Specifically for women, there is further societal pressure to have a certain appearance. Therefore utilizing sources which are specific in tracing the causes for young women and their struggles with eating disorders, it will assist the paper in supplying more central evidence for the argument of the paper. Through the use of these kinds of sources and other important one’s in the field, this research project will attempt to explain the historical rise of diet culture and media and its connection to young women with eating disorders.

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Biederman , Alyssa. My Rory: A Personal Journey Through Teenage Anorexia. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2005.

            This book is written from the perspective of a teenage girl suffering from anorexia. It takes the reader through the mind of a young girl who is struggling through disease and attempting to recover from it. This is a unique read in that it allows the reader to try to grasp what the mindset of a young person working through a major eating disorder looks like. It is a brief look into the mind of anorexia and illustrates the struggle to get out of the hole of anorexia.

Binstock, Melissa. Nourishment: Feeding My Starving Soul When My Mind and Body Betrayed Me. Deerfield Beach: Health Communications, Inc., 2001.

            Melissa Binstock provides the reader with a full overview of living with mental illness from a young age. Binstock suffers from a multitude of different mental ailments, including anorexia nervosa has been diagnosed with such since the age of eleven. The suffering of a young girl into womanhood provides a story of growth and recovery. The importance of this kind of personal story is found in that teenage years are often when humans are most susceptible to influence of peers and media. Since Binstock was predisposed to mental illness, the combination of entering her teenage years in a more vulnerable state gives an honest glance at the reality of a young woman’s life impacted by mental illness.

Burns, Maree, and Helen Malson. Critical Feminist Approaches to Eating Disorders. New York: Routledge, 2009. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203876442.

            This book focuses on the specific details of eating disorders as it pertains to women. This kind of secondary perspective is important in the academic field of eating disorders as it provides a further insight on the causes and treatment of eating disorders. With the specific feminist critique of approaches to eating disorders, the authors highlight the connection between broader cultural norms for women and the realities of mental illness. The book is more specific in its exploration of the feminist movement and how the treatment of eating disorders fit into the modern feminist movement.

Chaerani, Astrid Restu, and Junaidi Junaidi. “DOES DIET START TOMORROW? A DISCOURSE ANALYSIS OF SELF-DEPRECATING HUMOR AGAINST DIET CULTURE IN DIET STARTS TOMORROW.” Celtic (Online) 6, no. 2 (2019): 51–62.

            This journal article is a brief analysis of an Instagram page which is targeted at making light of diet culture. The article goes through certain posts and themes of the Instagram page and analyses the pros and cons of the humor approach to diet culture. It also points out the significance of an Instagram page directed at the negative aspects of diet culture. As it exemplifies a shifting tide of diet culture and its slow removal from mainstream thinking in the US. This article serves as an important tool in looking at the slow shift away from diet culture and the ways in which people are attempting to do so.

Doney, Faith M, Jonathan Lee, Ani Sarkisyan, Emilio J Compte, Jason M Nagata, Eric R Pedersen, and Stuart B Murray. “Eating Disorder Risk Among College Sorority and Fraternity Members Within the United States.” Eating Disorders 31, no. 5 (2023): 440–49. https://doi.org/10.1080/10640266.2023.2188005.

            This journal article provides a different look at the culture of eating disorders in the US, by looking specifically at Sororities and Fraternities. In looking at these organizations who have a history of toxic culture within them, it gives a different side of diet culture that isn’t usually included. The article goes through the different ways in which eating disorder culture is present and swept under the rug in these collegiate communities. With such a large concentration of young people, the focus is more specific to the 18-22 age range. The specificity of the article allows the reader to gain a greater understanding of eating disorders in the collegiate environment as well as young people’s experience with them.

Halban, Emily. Perfect: Anorexia and Me. London: Vermilion, 2008.

            Halban’s personal narrative about her journey of anorexia gives the reader an in-depth look at the effects and struggle to recover from anorexia as a young woman. Her struggle with anorexia starts towards the end of high school and the book details the causes of her eating disorder to her eventual first step towards recovery during her senior year of college. Perfect captures the internal thoughts and the external effects of suffering from anorexia, it allows those without the experience of an eating disorder to gain a greater understanding and further empathy for those that do.

Hansen, Kathryn. Why I Was Bulimic, Why Conventional Therapy Didn’t Work, and I Recovered For Good. Phoenix: Camellia Publishing, 2011.

            Kathryn Hansen’s memoir detailing her journey with bulimia provides the reader with a greater understanding of the complexities of mental illness. The uniqueness of Hansen’s situation adds an aspect to the book that captures the vast spectrum of mental illness, but eating disorders specifically. Because the traditional modes of therapy weren’t effective for Hansen, her road to recovery is detailed differently than many other personal narratives written about eating disorders. Hansen’s description of events gives readers a glance into the experience of bulimia and the struggle it takes to recover from it.

Hornbacher, Marya. Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia. New York: Harper Collins, 1999.

            This memoir of details the experience of being diagnosed with two major eating disorders, which is a combination that most who struggle with eating disorders don’t find themselves dealing with. Hornbacher’s experience with these two illnesses from a young age illustrate the struggle of growing up and figuring out how an eating disorder fits in with age. Her eventual recovery from anorexia and bulimia allow the reader to further understand the struggles of each and the long process of realizing help is necessary.

Howard-Taylor, Lucy. Biting Anorexia: A Firsthand Account of an Internal War. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2009.

            This book is a personal narrative which focuses on the internal conflict of battling an eating disorder. By nature a mental illness is a war within yourself, but Howard-Taylor takes the explanation of this a step further by providing context and background of this experience. She takes the readers along with the thought process of someone battling an eating disorder and complex process to reaching recovery. This memoir, with much of the writing is taken from her diary’s, Howard-Taylor demonstrates the long road to recovery and the benefits of seeking treatment.

Kingsley, Jo and Alice. Alice in the Looking Glass: A Mother and Daughter’s Experience of Anorexia. London: Piatkus Books, 2005.

            A unique narrative of eating disorders, this book is a collaborative piece between a daughter who struggled with an eating disorder and the experience of her mother watching her struggle with the mental illness. This detailed book outlines the struggle of someone suffering from Anorexia and the simultaneous hurt that comes from being in close relationship with a person who is self-sabotaging in a major way. The back and forth between the mother and daughter illustrates an experience not uncommon among many young women and their mothers. This memoir gives insight into those outside the eating disorder and the internal struggle of someone with anorexia.

Knopp, Lisa. Bread: a Memoir of Hunger. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2016.

            This book is focused on the life of an older woman affected by anorexia. Her narrative explains her journey with an eating disorder, which begins at fifty-four again, having already suffered from disordered eating in her 20s. Her memoir focuses on her push to find the cause for her anorexia and she looks closely at the links that can be made between eating disorders, women, and age. This writing by Knopp provides a glance into how mental illnesses are never quite cured, but are often a lifelong struggle for those diagnosed. Both with her personal experience with eating disorders and the look into the general causes, it gives the reader a full encapsulation of someone that is dealing with the never-ending struggle of an eating disorder.

McKay, George. “Skinny Blues: Karen Carpenter, Anorexia Nervosa and Popular Music.” Popular Music 37, no. 1 (2018): 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1017/S026114301700054X.

            This journal article is a focused look at culture and the intersection with eating disorders. For many artists, their craft is a way to express themselves and what they are going through. In this writing, McKay explores the link between Carpenter’s struggle with anorexia and her music. In addition to the specifics of Carpenter’s music, the article looks at the overall trend of popular music and the underlying theme of eating disorders that can often make their way into songs. This article is a different perspective of eating disorders than many articles, as it is much more specific in its look at the cause and presence of eating disorders in popular music.

Pettit, Christie. Empty: A Story of Anorexia. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2006.

            This memoir by Christie Pettit is taken from her personal diary’s with supplemental material added by her. It is a narrative about Pettit’s journey of recovering from disordered eating and her use of religion as a means to cope and recover from it. It is written as more of a self-help book, for those also struggling with anorexia to use as a guide to recover. Her strong faith is credited to her eventual recovery from her eating disorder, which differs from the traditional recovery plans. She points to the broader community of women as understanding her struggle with eating and looks to encourage others to break through the cultural pressures to look a certain way.

Rivera, Erica. Insatiable: A Young Mother’s Struggle with Anorexia. New York: Berkley, 2010.

            Erica Rivera’s story is a powerful narrative about the power of eating disorders and the pressure that is placed upon keeping mental illness under wraps. Her memoir details her secret struggles with eating, all while seemingly checking off the boxes of the suburban American dream. She doesn’t seek recovery until her daughters start to emulate her same destructive behavior. The book paints the picture of eating disorder culture and the struggle to break the cycle of negative body view and disordered eating within broader culture but also within families.

Rozgonjuk, Dmitri, Johanna Ignell, Franziska Mech, Eva Rothermund, Harald Gündel, and Christian Montag. “Smartphone and Instagram Use, Body Dissatisfaction, and Eating Disorders: Investigating the Associations Using Self-Report and Tracked Data.” Journal of Eating Disorders 11, no. 1 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40337-023-00865-1.

            This journal article is specific in looking at social media and the impact that it has on those with eating disorders. The use of social media is often generalized as having an impact on the way that people view themselves, often having a negative impact on body image. The specific look at Instagram allows for a more targeted view of social media impact. In addition, since social media is still a fairly new development, the recent publishing of the article allow for a more realistic look at the effect.

Sacker, Ira M., and Marc A. Zimmer. Dying to Be Thin. New York, NY: Warner Books, 1987.

            Sacker and Zimmer’s Dying to Be Thin is a more dated publishing of anorexia and bulimia and the respective treatments for each mental illness. It is written as a guide to recovering individuals, focusing on the hope and fulfillment that recovery from eating disorders bring. In addition to serving those struggling with disordered eating, it also explores the difficulty of being a friend or family member of someone with an eating disorder. The inclusion of both of these aspects make this book applicable still today and allow its use as an important tool for all.

Sole-Smith, Virginia. The Eating Instinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2018.

            This book by Virginia Sole-Smith is an in-depth look at the effects of diet culture and the desire to be thin in America. The book explores the deep root that unhealthy food culture has in our media and our societal norms. In looking at the impact of the media, government, and large companies, she visits households around the US finding the explanations for the toxic culture surrounding food that has come to grip America. The nuances of this book are bountiful in addressing more than just the media as a cause for the disordered eating and unhealthy food culture present in many peoples lives.

Swenson, Rae. Linger No Longer: A Memoir of Anorexia. Charleston, SC: Booksurge Publishing, 2009.

            The recount of a young woman’s struggle with anorexia serves as a look into the complexities of the illness. With many of the book’s pages being taken from Swenson’s journal, it is an honest tale of anorexia and the many causes for the struggle. The eventual recovery of Swenson is credited to the urge to find the most authentic version of herself in order to break free from the struggle. It serves as a look into the most vulnerable parts of anorexia and also a comfort to those who also know the suffering of self-destruction.

Way, Karen. Anorexia Nervosa and Recovery : a Hunger for Meaning. New York: Routledge, 2013. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315820668.

            This book by Karen Way is focused on presenting the whole picture of anorexia and the causes of it. Taken from her own struggles with the illness, it centers on the need for control as the desire that steers anorexia. In recovering from the illness, she speaks about the hardship of letting go of control and finding the most authentic version of herself. In presenting a complete picture of the many causes and effects of anorexia, she goes into more depth about more than just the base layer of anorexia and gives those outside of it a look inside.

Zipfel, Stephan, Andreas Stengel, Stephan Zipfel, Andreas Stengel, and Katrin Giel. Anorexia Nervosa. Basel, Switzerland: MDPI – Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2021.

            This book is an overview of anorexia and the many causes and effects of the mental illness. It is based on scientific insight and research and provides the reader with a basic understanding anorexia nervosa. The recent publishing of the book ensures the up-to-date information and new findings about anorexia. Anorexia Nervosa gives a broad look at the causes of anorexia and the intricacies of the mental illness.

Categories
HIST OF MENTAL HEALTH IN THE US

Bibliography and Topic

Project Topic-Diet culture and its influence on eating disorders  in the 21st century

Biederman , Alyssa. My Rory: A Personal Journey Through Teenage Anorexia. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2005.

Binstock, Melissa. Nourishment: Feeding My Starving Soul When My Mind and Body Betrayed Me. Deerfield Beach: Health Communications, Inc., 2001.

Burns, Maree, and Helen Malson. Critical Feminist Approaches to Eating Dis/orders. New York: Routledge, 2009. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203876442.

Chaerani, Astrid Restu, and Junaidi Junaidi. “DOES DIET START TOMORROW? A DISCOURSE ANALYSIS OF SELF-DEPRECATING HUMOR AGAINST DIET CULTURE IN DIET STARTS TOMORROW.” Celtic (Online) 6, no. 2 (2019): 51–62.

Doney, Faith M, Jonathan Lee, Ani Sarkisyan, Emilio J Compte, Jason M Nagata, Eric R Pedersen, and Stuart B Murray. “Eating Disorder Risk Among College Sorority and Fraternity Members Within the United States.” Eating Disorders 31, no. 5 (2023): 440–49. https://doi.org/10.1080/10640266.2023.2188005.

Halban, Emily. Perfect: Anorexia and Me. London: Vermilion, 2008.

Hansen, Kathryn. Why I Was Bulimic, Why Conventional Therapy Didn’t Work, and I Recovered For Good. Phoenix: Camellia Publishing, 2011.

Hornbacher, Marya. Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia. New York: Harper Collins, 1999.

Howward-Taylor, Lucy. Biting Anorexia: A Firsthand Account of an Internal War. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2009.

Kingsley, Jo and Alice. Alice in the Looking Glass: A Mother and Daughter’s Experience of Anorexia. London: Piatkus Books, 2005.

Knopp, Lisa. Bread : a Memoir of Hunger. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2016.

McKay, George. “Skinny Blues: Karen Carpenter, Anorexia Nervosa and Popular Music.” Popular Music 37, no. 1 (2018): 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1017/S026114301700054X.

Pettit, Christie. Empty: A Story of Anorexia. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2006.

Rivera, Erica. Insatiable: A Young Mother’s Struggle with Anorexia. New York: Berkley, 2010.

Rozgonjuk, Dmitri, Johanna Ignell, Franziska Mech, Eva Rothermund, Harald Gündel, and Christian Montag. “Smartphone and Instagram Use, Body Dissatisfaction, and Eating Disorders: Investigating the Associations Using Self-Report and Tracked Data.” Journal of Eating Disorders 11, no. 1 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40337-023-00865-1.

Sacker, Ira M., and Marc A. Zimmer. Dying to Be Thin. New York, NY: Warner Books, 1987.

Sole-Smith, Virginia. The Eating Instinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2018.

Swenson, Rae. Linger No Longer: A Memoir of Anorexia. Charleston, SC: Booksurge Publishing, 2009.

Way, Karen. Anorexia Nervosa and Recovery : a Hunger for Meaning. New York: Routledge, 2013. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315820668.

Zipfel, Stephan, Andreas Stengel, Stephan Zipfel, Andreas Stengel, and Katrin Giel. Anorexia Nervosa. Basel, Switzerland: MDPI – Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2021.

-9/10/23

Categories
HIST OF MENTAL HEALTH IN THE US

WEEKLY RESOURCE BLOG

Hi! My name is Margie and I am a senior majoring in History and Political Science. I grew up in Maine, so quite a ways from Virginia. I love to be outside, read, and am a member of the swim team here at Mary Washington. I am super excited to take this course because I think that mental health is something that affects us all in some form or another. By learning the history of it in the US, I think that it offers up an opportunity to have a greater understanding of our society and how mental health and its services have evolved over the years.-8/29/23


9/6/23

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/06/health/yale-mental-health.html

This is an article talking about the changes being made to mental health policies in higher education. I think it’s a pretty relevant topic to this course as much of what we’re reading and discussing right now is about the changes being made to handling mental health. This goes to show that this is a constantly changing field, which is interesting to look at in the 1700s as well as now.


9/13/23

This is a podcast that I found which talks about ways in which to manage anxiety and what living with it looks like. I think that this is both a good resource for all to have. It also serves as a cool way to compare what the discussion around mental health looks like now vs the sources about early treatment that we are working through right now.


9/27/23

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/27/health/peace-corps-mental-health.html

This is a NY Times article that I came across earlier today. It speaks about a trend found in Peace Corps applicants who were then disqualified because of their mental health conditions. It is an interesting topic to explore, because in some cases it makes sense not to let someone with a serious mental illness leave their home for 2 years. On the other hand, those with less-severe and/or managed mental health shouldn’t be disqualified because of their illness.


10/3/23/

This week for the resource blog I chose to include a Ted Talk that has a lot of relevance for this week, since it’s student athlete mental health awareness week. This is a Ted Talk done by a former (at the time current) USC volleyball player. She talks about the stigma, causes, and effects of mental health in the case of college athletes. As a college athlete myself, I found this to be extremely insightful and comforting. She now does a lot of work in advocating for student athletes combating mental health struggles, so I think she is an important figure going forward as a resource.


10/11/23

https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day/2023

The link above is a little blurb talking about yesterday’s celebration of World Mental Health Day. This shows a significant change from many of the books that we are reading for class. The steps that the global community has taken in recognizing mental health are very substantial in that we now have a whole day to reflect on the role it plays in our lives.


10/18/23

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/16/health/mental-health-tiktok-harvard.html

This is a NY Times article from a few days ago, talking about the influx of mental health “influencers” online. The advocacy, tips, and overall awareness of mental health on social media is very different from the vast majority of other social media posts. Bringing in their own experiences to platforms where people most often show their highlights opens up a bigger conversation about mental health and its place in our society.


11/1/23

How Music Can Be Mental Health Care

This article from the NY Times highlights a therapy that is a little bit more non-traditional. The shift to alternative therapies such as music therapy demonstrates an expansion of options for mental health. The difference between early asylum care and the options available now are very clearly seen within the article. In looking at these different options for care it expands on the changing landscape in mental health care in the US.


11/15/23

https://us.movember.com/mens-health/mental-health

The link posted above is information surrounding men’s mental health. Unfortunately the conversation around men and mental health can be quite different than those for women. The month of November is a month of awareness for men’s health and with that spreading awareness and breaking down the stigma that men can also face mental health struggles is important. This is done through information like that shared in the link above, which informs and works to break down the stigma of men just “toughing” it out.


11/29/23

https://www.politico.com/news/2023/11/29/newsom-mental-health-policies-00128613

This is an article from politico which highlights the disparities in mental health treatment for those who do and don’t have resources. Governor of California Gavin Newsom is taking on a more controversial side of the state’s homelessness population. In his proposed efforts, it would mandate care for some individuals, rather than the previously optional care which makes up much of the US’s healthcare policy. Overall, it’s an interesting take on what do do about the intersection between those who are un-housed and mentally ill individuals.


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FINAL ASSIGNMENT

Final Assignment

A ranking and analysis of the accuracy of the films that we watched that are based around an American war. Enjoy!


CITATIONS

History 329 Wiki. Accessed Tuesday December 6, 2022. http://courses.mcclurken.org/wiki/doku.php?id=329:questions:hist329–us_history_in_film–fall_2022

https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-gone-with-the-wind-1939

https://www.newsweek.com/gone-wind-80th-anniversary-15-things-you-didnt-know-about-classic-movie-1314659

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097441/

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1008415-glory

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/why-glory-still-resonates-more-three-decades-later-180975794/

https://www.militarytimes.com/off-duty/military-culture/2019/06/27/civil-war-epic-glory-returning-to-theaters-in-july/

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104691/

https://letterboxd.com/film/the-last-of-the-mohicans-1992/

https://www.intofilm.org/films/4315

https://www.vudu.com/content/movies/details/The-Patriot/16602

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/born_on_the_fourth_of_july

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/born-on-the-fourth-of-july

https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/periods-genres/film-tv/best-movie-soundtracks/1980s/born-fourth-july/

https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-best-years-of-our-lives-1946

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0O6NClwJhE

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/TheBestYearsOfOurLives

Categories
Bibliography

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ackerman, Kenneth D. Young J. Edgar: Hoover, the Red Scare, and the assault on civil liberties. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2007.

“Books and Arts: Dirty Hoover; New American Film,” The Economist, Nov 19, 2011, 94-n/a, https://umw.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/magazines/books-arts-dirty-hoover-new-american-film/docview/905230120/se-2.

“Fact-Checking Clint Eastwoods ‘J. Edgar’ Biopic.” All Things Considered, NPR. Hosted by Robert Siegel and Beverly Gage. December 28, 2011. Accessed November 12, 2022. https://www.npr.org/2011/12/28/144393904/fact-checking-eastwoods-j-edgar-biopic.

Gentry, Kurt. J. Edgar Hoover: the man and the secrets. New York: Norton, 1991.

Hoover, John Edgar. Masters of deceit; the story of communism in America and how to fight it. New York: Holt, 1958.

Jackman, Tom. “The FBI break-in that exposed J. Edgar Hoover’s misdeeds to be honored with historical marker.” Washington Post, 2021.

Medsger, Betty. The burglary: the discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s secret FBI. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.

Sorel, Nancy. “J. Edgar Hoover and Emma Goldman.” The Atlantic. Vol. 271, 1993.

Staples, Brent. “A Flashback to the Reign of J. Edgar Hoover.” New York Times, January 2014.

Underhill, Stephen M. The Manufacture of Consent: J. Edgar Hoover and the rhetorical rise of the FBI. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, 2020.

United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. FBI history. Washington D.C.: Federal Bureau of Investigation. Accessed September 12, 2022. https://webharvest.gov/peth04/20041023202620/http://www.fbi.gov//libref/historic/history/historymain.htm


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Primary or Secondary?

Primary or Secondary?

When looking at movie through a historians lens, one of the most important questions is whether the film can be used as a primary or secondary source.

https://in-love-with-movies.tumblr.com/post/645644864732659712/j-edgar-usa-2011

Though sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether a film falls under primary or secondary source category, J. Edgar is quite easy to decide. It is wholeheartedly a SECONDARY source. It was made much later than the events that it depicts, so therefore does not fall under the category of primary source.

However, the film can be used as a primary source about the time in which it was made. In 2011 and carrying into today, Hoover is seen as slightly more villainous because of his actions in making the FBI his own. J. Edgar does not exactly paint Hoover in a great light, in some of the scenes, the view of the opposing party is shown as the more favorable option. The criticisms that Hoover receives during the film is demonstrative of current attitudes towards what Hoover did during his time at the FBI.6 Because of the sometimes negative view of Hoover during the film, it demonstrates present day stances. This makes it a useful primary source about the time in which it was made.

ANTI-COMMUNISM

Much of the focus during the film is on the work that Hoover did on fighting against radicals or communists. During the first wave of the Red Scare, Hoover concentrated on deporting an anarchist named Emma Goldman.7 He was successful in his mission of deporting her based on evidence that he orchestrated and compiled from various corners. This turning point for Hoover in the fight against communism and the power of the FBI is portrayed very accurately in the film.

Edward Sorel, J. Edgar Hoover and Emma Goldman, 1993, Drawing, National Portrait Gallery, https://npg.si.edu/object/npg_S_NPG.94.32.

After finding Ms. Goldman guilty and having her deported, Hoover continues this trend of deportation of anarchists and communists. The events that transpired during the first Red Scare is depicted on screen through the FBI (Hoover in particular) tracking those who are suspected to be “plotting” against the US government.8 The more formal name for these investigations was the Palmer raids, named for A. Mitchell Palmer who was the attorney general at the time spearheading the anti-communist agenda. This anti-communist phenomenon is a focal point of the film, as most of the professional work of Hoover during the movie is centered around getting rid of and finding those who supposedly threaten the US. The way that the film shows the anti-communist sentiments during this period, both in the first Red Scare from 1917-1920 and in the post WWII culture was very factual to the time period. As part of the growth of the FBI was due to the emerging perceived threat of communism, so the importance that is placed on it in the film is useful in using the film as a secondary source.

HOOVER’S PERSONAL LIFE

Since this movie is a biographical movie about J. Edgar Hoover, one of the most important questions is if the film can be used as a secondary source about Hoover himself. Overall, J. Edgar is fairly spot-on in its portrayal of Hoover. The most important parts that movie gets correct is Hoover’s relationship with both his mother and Clyde Tolson. At certain points in the movie, it switches back and forth between scenes where Hoover is in a commanding position at the Bureau to a much softer version of himself at the dinner table with his mother.

The scene above depicts his close but also somewhat complicated relationship with his mother. Hoover depended on his mother for much of his adult life as well as lived with her, so had the film not captured this relationship, there would’ve been severe inaccuracies in Eastwoods depiction of Hoover’s life.

Another important relationship in Hoover’s life was his with Clyde Tolson. Tolson was Hoover’s next door neighbor, second in command at the Bureau, and nightly dinner companion. Not surprisingly, it was widely assumed that these two were lovers seeing as neither one ever married. Even though Clyde is a pivotal character in the film, it is hard to know whether or not it was an accurate depiction. The knowledge of Hoover’s and Tolson’s relationship does not extend beyond the fact that they had dinner together and spent a lot of time together. But the movie goes into much more detail about the relationship between the two of them, which is all purely speculation of what their private relationship would’ve looked like.9 The private scenes between the two of them were fictional, making the film slightly less reliable as a secondary source. Despite the private scenes were between Hoover and Tolson being based off of assumptions, they did have a very real relationship.

This scene between Hoover and Tolson is a brief glimpse into their relationship. The discussion about their dinners is an accurate depiction of the public knowledge of their relationship. As well as the fact that Tolson worked with Hoover, which was another piece of their public relationship. This scene in the film is one of the only private conversational scenes between Hoover and Tolson that is truly based off of fact.

CHANGES IN THE FBI

A big part of Hoover’s legacy was the changes that he brought to the FBI, in making it into the organization that it is today. These changes made by Hoover are very apparent in the film and are also very accurate. Hoover introduced an FBI specific training program that was required for agents hired by the Bureau. This was a change from the initial formation of the Bureau, as many of the agents who originally worked there were un-trained or came from a law-enforcement background. Other changes that Hoover introduced to the Bureau included overall professionalization of the FBI.

In the earlier scenes of the movie, Hoover is very outspoken about his opinion on the shortcomings of the FBI. As a young agent, he works to implement changes to improve the file keeping as well as the general organization of the Bureau. One scene in particular truly demonstrates Hoover creating the Bureau that he envisioned. Shortly after he was appointed as head of the FBI, he lines up agents in the hallway and goes down the line of whether or not they will continue working at the Bureau. While this may not be a completely accurate depiction of how the firings occurred, it is a very clear demonstration of how Hoover fundamentally put his vision into practice.

Overall, J. Edgar works very well as a secondary source. It matches the historical accounts of Hoover’s life and the duration of the FBI very closely. Although the movie is set up as Hoover dictating his story to a younger agent when in reality he never did that, the movie makes sure to confirm at the end that he did not. The dictation of the memoirs by Hoover was merely a way to have the movie flow smoothly. The assumptions made by the filmmakers about Hoover’s and Tolson’s relationship while assumptions are most likely not completely out of the question. In addition to Hoover’s personal life, his actions at the FBI as depicted in the film are quite demonstrative of the shifts in culture that was occurring in the US. The scenes about both of the Red Scares and the fears about communism that the US government helped to push, is very clear on screen in this film. Without the inclusion of the wider impact of the Hoover and his FBI’s impact, the film would have missed out on the actual impact that Hoover’s actions and anti-communist rhetoric had on the American public.11 All of these aspects allow J. Edgar to be used as a fairly accurate secondary source about Hoover and the history of the FBI.



6 Tom Jackman, “The FBI break-in that exposed J. Edgar Hoover’s misdeeds to be honored with historical marker,” Washington Post, 2021.

7 Nancy Sorel, “J. Edgar Hoover and Emma Goldman,” The Atlantic, 1993, Vol. 271, 105.

8 Kenneth D. Ackerman, Young J. Edgar: Hoover, the Red Scare, and the assault on civil liberties, (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2007).

9 “Fact-Checking Clint Eastwoods ‘J. Edgar’ Biopic”, All Things Considered, NPR, hosted by Robert Siegel and Beverly Gage, December 28, 2011, Accessed November 12, 2022, https://www.npr.org/2011/12/28/144393904/fact-checking-eastwoods-j-edgar-biopic.

10 Stephen M. Underhill, The Manufacture of Consent: J. Edgar Hoover and the rhetorical rise of the FBI, (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, 2020).


Categories
Historical Context

Historical Context

The FBI (or the Bureau of Investigation as it was called then) was established in 1908 at a time when there were very few federal crimes. Many of these first agents came from a law enforcement background but received no formal training from the FBI. The role of the Bureau started to shift during WWI, when it took on the task of investigating of those deemed “enemy aliens”.1 This period during and after WWI was when the first Red Scare took place. So many of the people that the FBI was investigating had some sort of connection to the Communist Party and were often foreigners. Following WWI, the Bureau reverted back to the task of enforcing the few federal crimes.

As the US moved into the 1920’s, the rates of crime started to rise, due to disregard for prohibition as well as more organized crime groups.2 These shifts in crime led changes to be made in the Bureau, and was around the time when Hoover was picked to head up the Bureau in 1924.3 As the new head of the Bureau, Hoover implemented changes such as formal training, expansion of field offices, and overall professionalization of the organization.4

https://www.fbi.gov/history/directors/j-edgar-hoover

The emergence of the Great Depression created more criminals and criminal activity, which propelled Hoover’s changes to the FBI even further as the FBI had to take on a larger role in society. In addition to the rise in crime, the FBI was also tasked with dealing with threats to US democracy. Namely the fascism and communism that was emerging in Europe during this time. These threats (though not new to the US) prompted the FBI and particularly Hoover in targeting those who the Bureau believed posed a viable threat to the American way of life.5

http://historicalgmen.squarespace.com/trainggroup-photos

This brief overview of the earlier years of the FBI gives a glimpse into the glory years of Hoover. These different threats and changes allowed him to create a much different FBI than when it started out.


1 FBI History, United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, accessed November 13, 2022, https://webharvest.gov/peth04/20041023202620/http://www.fbi.gov//libref/historic/history/historymain.htm

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

IMAGE CITATIONS

https://guides.loc.gov/chronicling-america-palmer-raids

https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/j-edgar-hoover-the-librarian-who-became-americas-most-powerful-man

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/j-edgar-hoover-sitting-at-beach-bettmann.html

https://www.newyorker.com/books/double-take/j-edgar-hoover-1937

https://www.google.com/search?q=j+edgar&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS905US905&sxsrf=ALiCzsb59NvL8x8CYrb8HZA2AZMIyGEUVw:1668472836944&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiIoo3W-a77AhW9F1kFHXAwBuEQ_AUoAXoECAIQAw&biw=923&bih=620&dpr=2#imgrc=H7Os7CqZkJEIVM

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1616195/

https://www.jfklibrary.org/asset-viewer/archives/JFKWHP/1961/Month%2002/Day%2023/JFKWHP-1961-02-23-A

https://www.trumanlibrary.gov/photograph-records/2012-2342

https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/takeaway/segments/how-j-edgar-hoover-shaped-the-fbi

https://www.thoughtco.com/j-edgar-hoover-4588944

https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/the-hoover-legacy-40-years-after-part-4

https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/copy3_of_the-hoover-legacy-40-years-after

Categories
Film Overview

J. Edgar Introduction

I hereby pledge on my honor that I have neither given nor received unauthorized help on this work. -Margaret Jones

J. Edgar, a 2011 film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood, portrays the life of J. Edgar Hoover and his role in shaping the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The film takes the viewer through Hoover’s career and his impact in the nation’s federal law enforcement agency. This film and the professional life of J. Edgar Hoover is essential in comprehending the transformation of the FBI as well as a shifting US culture and stance towards crime and radicalism.


IMPORTANT CAST MEMBERS

J. Edgar Hoover: Leonardo DiCaprio

Clyde Tolson: Armie Hammer

Annie Hoover: Judi Dench

Helen Gandy: Naomi Watts

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