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Title: British intellectuals in the age of total and nuclear warfare
Author: Glass, Victoria Jessica
ISNI:       0000 0004 5357 493X
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2014
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This research examines British intellectual debates on warfare throughout the mid-20th century. The thesis identifies different discourses that emerged as a result of the changes in international relations and military technology at this time. It posits that intellectual contribution on the whole had a more significant impact than many historians have previously accredited. The thesis examines the work of specific intellectuals that made significant and detailed input into these debates and identifies their role in framing these discourses, as individuals and as part of a larger intellectual community. It also highlights the involvement of these intellectuals within the state apparatus and links their intellectual contribution to their role in government. The subject of war and its perception by intellectuals is conspicuously absent in the historiography on British intellectuals. Some of the most important studies of British intellectuals, including Stefan Collini’s Absent Minds, have engaged only slightly or not at all with the intellectual discourse surrounding international relations and warfare. This thesis attempts to fill this gap for the middle of the 20th century and demonstrates that warfare became a prolific and highly visible part of the contribution of intellectuals to British life. Recent literature has attempted to discuss the British state as a warfare state, rejecting arguments on British declinism. The thesis engages with this debate, and while it focuses on Britain’s approach to warfare, it also challenges the interpretation of Britain as either a welfare or a warfare state. The study of intellectuals does not feature heavily within this historiography on British warfare. While historians, such as David Edgerton, engage with specific intellectuals and their writings, a discussion of intellectual discourse does not appear within these analyses. This thesis argues that intellectuals as a group developed ideas and arguments on warfare and the British state in conjunction with one another, creating an intellectual discourse which influenced political decision making and public opinion. The thesis also examines a more modern understanding of the intellectual: the expert. Using both scientific and military thinkers, the thesis explores how experts became intellectuals in response to the growing threat of warfare and the rise of a military-industrial complex. Using intellectuals that conform to the classic definition alongside expert intellectuals, the thesis highlights the importance of analysing both groups as part of the larger whole, and discusses the similarities and differences between the works generated by these intellectuals. The thesis spans the years from 1932 to 1963 and discusses the continuities between intellectual debates across this period. The post-war years and the nuclear conflict feature heavily within this analysis, but the thesis highlights the importance of the 1930s in influencing later intellectual perceptions of the nuclear age and the fight against communism. The majority of this research resulted from sources published within the public domain including monographs, newspaper and periodical articles, public speeches and radio broadcasts. The research also uses the personal archives of the individual intellectuals and political documents from the time, including papers from the Ministry of Defence located in the National Archives, Defence White Papers and the Hansard House of Commons official reports.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Intellectual History ; British Intellectuals ; 20th Century British Warfare ; Cold War ; Second World War