LITR 5831 World / Multicultural Literature

Film / Video Highlights

Video highlights: The Quiet American

Presenter: Caryn Livingston

17 November 2015

Major Characters

Thomas Fowler: British journalist – Michael Caine

Alden Pyle: supposed aid worker, actual CIA operative – Brendan Fraser

Phuong, lover to both men - Đỗ Thị Hải Yến

Setting: Vietnam, 1952 – nearing the end of French-Indochina War      (US-Vietnam War app. 1955-1975, with highest escalation in 1960s)


7:26 – 9:30: Dangers to Democracy

1.   What are your impressions of Pyle, and how do his American views of democracy around the world apply to what we’ve been learning about colonialism this semester?

2.   Issues of American ignorance of larger world and alternative worldviews – does American resistance to or ignorance of postcolonial criticism react to this discourse’s development from outposts of the former British Empire and French / Francophone traditions? 


26:00 – 27:30 “We’re not colonialists”

1.   How does the violence depicted as a result of the colonial war relate to other violence we’ve read of this semester? How does this scene relate to the incursion into Africa in Heart of Darkness?

2.   How authentic is Pyle’s claim about America’s involvement in colonized regions? Is America (USA) an imperial, colonial, or neo-imperial nation? Or an “empire in denial?”


1:02:15 – 1:03:30 Treatment of Vietnamese women

1.   Observing representations or repressions of gender in male-dominant fields of cross-cultural contact – how might women be viewed in colonial and post-colonial literature as another resource to exploit?

2.   In what ways do colonized women seek to benefit from the colonial relationship? Are they only exploited victims, or is the relationship in some ways reciprocal?


1:10:30 – 1:12:30 and 1:16:00 – 1:18:00 Truth revealed

1.   How does America’s involvement in foreign government, as depicted here, relate to colonialism as we have studied it thus far? Is maneuvering foreign governments rather than setting up a branch of your own still colonial?