American Documentary Filmmaking in the Digital Age examines the recent challenges to the conventions of realist documentary through the lens of war documentary films by Ken Burns, Michael Moore, and Errol Morris. During the twentieth century, the invention of new technologies of audiovisual representation such as cinema, television, video, and digital media have transformed the modes of historical narration and with it forced historians to assess the impact of new visual technologies on the construction of history. This book investigates the manner in which this contemporary Western "crisis" in historical narrative is produced by a larger epistemological shift in visual culture. Ricciardelli uses the theme of war as depicted in these directors’ films to focus her study and look at the model(s) of national identity that Burns, Morris, and Moore shape through their depictions of US military actions. She examines how postcolonial critiques of historicism and the advent of digitization have affected the narrative structure of documentary film and the shaping of historical consciousness through cinematic representation.
Part I: The Realist Documentary Tradition in the Postmodern Age Introduction: The Postmodern Attack on Historicism, Nationalism, Rationalism, and Realism 1. Realist Documentary: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How? 2. The Demise of the Academic Critique of Realism: Phenomenological Approaches in Documentary Studies Scholarship Part II: Audiovisual Historical Narration in the Age of Digitization 3. The Impact of Digital Technology on Documentary Filmmaking 4. From "Nanook of the North" to Social-Networking Websites: Shaping Historical Consciousness in the Digital Age Part III: American Documentary Filmmaking in the Postmodern Age 5. Ken Burns: The Master of Consensus in the Age of Dissent 6. Michael Moore: The Subjective/Objective Dichotomy 7. Errol Morris: ‘Interrotroning’ the Past for the Present Conclusion: The Demise of American Realist Documentary Filmmaking in the Digital Age?