Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History

Department

History

First Advisor

Robert W. Widell, Jr.

Abstract

My thesis examines the ways in which narratives about Axis-occupied Yugoslavia developed within the United States over the course of World War II and identifies how these narratives influenced the development of American foreign policy. Methodologically, I utilize the literary theories of Northrop Frye and Hayden White as a means of narrative analysis. Frye categorizes narratives as romance, comedy, tragedy, or satire. Each of these modes of employment serves as a call to action or, in the case of satire, inaction. The initial narrative related to occupied Yugoslavia was romance, and it served as a call for the United States to aid the Četnik resistance. The romantic narrative of Četnik resistance was, in part, supplanted by the romance of the communist Partisans due to the ways in which Četnik ideology conflicted with American ideals and the US government’s comedic narrative of national and international unity. Many Americans became dissatisfied with US policy toward Yugoslavia and framed the cause of this dissatisfaction in terms of a moral failing, giving rise to the tragic narrative. This narrative called for the United States to return to its ideals and assume a more constructive role in Yugoslavia. However, the tragic narrative was ultimately undermined by the satirical narrative. The satirical view of Yugoslavia drew upon preconceived notions of a Balkan propensity for violence and disorder. It discouraged the US from becoming politically involved in Yugoslavia, and its emergence explains US foreign policy, or lack thereof, toward Yugoslavia at the end of World War II.

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