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Title: England goes to war, 1914-15
Author: Good, Kit
ISNI:       0000 0001 3504 7448
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2002
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August 1914 is one of the great pivots of European history. The crowds cheering the outbreak of war raise the curtain on a century of war, genocide and tragedy. Cultural narratives of the Great War have absorbed the values of every generation since 1914-1918, honing the conflict into a number of potent shared images. This thesis examines the period between late July 1914 to May 1915, attempting to find the roots of such a powerful historical and cultural belief in 'war enthusiasm'. The thesis begins with a study of the days surrounding the outbreak of war. It identifies the widespread fear and anxiety that greeted the threat of conflict in 1914. Drawing its source material from across the country, the chapter discusses how region and locality shaped the response to war. We can see how the nation looked back to the experience of the South African War as an example of how not to act in wartime. 'War enthusiasm' is reassessed and remodelled, representing an inward looking celebration of the community, rather than a bellicose desire for war. The second chapter develops these ideas across the period from August 1914 to May 1915, with the emerging narrative of a 'regenerated' England at war. 'War enthusiasm' is expressed in charitable contribution and pageantry and a new unity of purpose that rejected the divisions of Edwardian society. Chapter three debates some of the tensions and contests beneath the ideal of 'war enthusiasm', encompassing the economy, politics and the growing awareness of the horrors of war. The fourth chapter covers recruitment. Firstly, it interprets the recruitment meeting as an extension of the pageantry of the home front. Secondly, it discusses the extent to which the volunteer army was a symbol of the new, unified 'community'. Thirdly, it traces the way that English manhood was 'regenerated' to fulfil this symbolism. Chapter five examines the anti-German riots on the home front in 1914-15, and defines the unrest as a continuance of pre-war meanings of collective violence - the symbolic exclusion from community. The sixth chapter details the East Coast bombardments of December 1914 and the first Zeppelin raids, revealing the extent to which civilians were subject to the 'realities of war'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: History