Professor of Media and Society Linda Robertson was recently interviewed by BBC Radio 4 for a documentary on the use of air power in World War I. The first installment of the series, which deals with 1914-1915, is set to air in April.
BBC Producer Mark Burman interviewed Robertson about the content of her book, “The Dream of Civilized Warfare: World War I Flying Aces and the American Imagination” (2005). The BBC documentary focuses on how propaganda about flying aces, military aviators credited with shooting down multiple enemy aircraft during combat, was used to sustain morale as millions were being slaughtered in the ground war.
In her interview, Robertson discusses how the formation of the Lafayette Escadrille – a privately-financed squadron of American volunteers drawn initially from the American Northeast elite – served the interests of France in gaining American support for the war in Europe.
“The exploits of the Lafayette Escadrille, described in many instances by the writings of the flyers themselves, gained them the admiration of the American public and solidified American sympathy with the French,” explains Robertson.
Robertson is the founder of the HWS Media and Society program and has taught at the Colleges since 1986. She received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Oregon. Her scholarly interests include the rhetoric of economics, feminist issues and politics. She has written on the representation of U.S. and other air powers during the bombing of Belgrade and the Persian Gulf War, including “From War Propaganda to Sound Bites: The Poster Mentality of Politics in the Age of Television.”
She has published scholarly articles on the news coverage of the human catastrophe in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and on the representation of warfare in film. She recently completed a feature-length documentary about Harriet Tubman’s biographer, Sarah Bradford. In 2012, she received a Research Fellowship from Oxford University to explore the influence of classical literature on the cultural understanding of warfare and empire.