Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art & Art History

First Advisor

Ernesto R. Acevedo-Muñoz

Second Advisor

Melinda Barlow

Third Advisor

Thomas W. Zeiler


Kathryn Bigelow's 2008 war film, The Hurt Locker, revisits many of the war genre's conventions and is quite unlike other war films from Hollywood's industry-made canon. Conventions were intentionally side-stepped or revised with respect to the Iraq War, which has also been unlike any other war in American history. This thesis examines the conventions of the war film and is structured around the narrative and formal aspects of the genre, offering an in-depth analysis of where and why The Hurt Locker stands in confrontation with those conventions. This thesis is particularly concerned with The Hurt Locker's aversion to binaries and a political statement. I argue that The Hurt Locker intentionally avoids or revises generic conventions in order to convey political ambiguity, to analyze and develop a stronger sense of character, and to differentiate the realities of the Iraq War experience from other wars and war experiences.