Monday, April 21, 2008

Of Snapshots and Survival: Picturing Vietnam

As a reminder, your homework tonight is to examine the famous Nick Ut photograph from your Vietnam War handout (here's the photo), and answer the following questions (adapted from Katherine J. Lualdi, Sources of The Making of the West, Vol. 2, Since 1500, 3rd ed., pp. 271-2).

Here are the questions to answer:

1. Why do you think this image had such a powerful impact on the public at the time?

2. What does the image of the young girl in the center of the photograph, with her clothes having been burned off and her skin on fire, reveal about the technology of war and its human costs?

3. How might the photograph's effect on U.S. public opinion have been different if the perpetrators of the napalm attack been the North Vietnamese army rather than the South Vietnamese and the Americans?

4. What do you think the political impact of this photograph was in North Vietnam after its publication?

5. What images from U.S. conflicts since the Vietnam strike you as significant and important, and why?

There's more to the story of the picture. The photograph won a Pulitzer Prize, and the girl in the middle of the photo, Kim Phuc, survived. Read about this series of events here, and discuss in the comments section how a photograph might be used as a primary source.

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