Date of Award

Fall 12-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Eric Platt

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Lilian Hill

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Steven Chesnut

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Holly Foster

Committee Member 4 School



When the United States entered WWII, the government contracted with several film studios to produce propagandistic cartoons, newsreels, and short films. These contracts continued throughout the war, and government agencies not only censored these films, but also produced some of their own film media. The deliberately embedded messages planted to influence viewers worked well for several reasons. During the war years, the Nazi Party produced its own propaganda films, and while the United States decried that deliberate attempt to influence populations, the United States government was doing exactly what they condemned: producing film made to influence its own population. Since WWII ended, many studies have examined and analyzed the ways in which the films were propagandistic. The literature is lacking a connection between those films and the field of adult education.

This study was conducted to examine the chosen cartoons, newsreels, and short films for necessary devices of fiction and propaganda, to connect them to each other and to the experiential learning cycle and to expand the current vague definition of invisible adult education. The study explored the following research questions: 1) How do the devices of propaganda work with the elements of fiction to influence adult learning as it occurred in historic WW2 media? 2) In what ways do the tenets of the abstract, passive, secondary learning cycle link to the devices of propaganda and the elements of fiction regarding adult learning processes? and 3) Could both the devices of propaganda and the elements of fiction, along with the passive experiential adult learning cycle coalesce to produce forms of invisible adult education? Findings demonstrated that not only do propaganda and fiction depend on many of the same elements, but also that they can be linked to the twin-cycle experiential learning model. Because these connections can be made, the existence of invisible adult education can be further defined.