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Title: The National War Aims Committee and British patriotism during the First World War
Author: Monger, David
ISNI:       0000 0004 2711 0293
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis discusses the National War Aims Committee (NWAC), a cross-party, Treasury-funded Parliamentary organisation established in mid-1917 to conduct domestic propaganda. The thesis provides the most comprehensive examination of its organisational structure, expanding upon and correcting existing historical treatments, and demonstrating that it was a more significant element of British wartime society than previously assumed. It also provides much greater discussion of the NWAC's reception by Parliament, the press and the public. The thesis provides extensive analysis of the representation of patriotism in NWAC propaganda. This exceeds existing work, considering all its printed propaganda, but also reports of NWAC events in over a hundred newspapers in thirty localities. This detailed analysis suggests that NWAC propagandists retained many familiar themes of pre-war patriotism and national identity. This observation counters assumptions that pre-war patriotism was nullified by the mass casualties suffered by patriotic volunteers. However, I argue that while basic patriotic themes remained recognisable, NWAC propaganda reconfigured them in a narrative reflective of the experience of war-weary civilians. The propaganda generally revolved around a core idea of duty, supplemented by one or more contextual elements which demonstrated its necessity. I suggest several categories of interactive and interdependent `presentational patriotisms' used by propagandists to influence civilian attitudes. Further, I demonstrate that each category is discernible more widely in pre-war settings, suggesting that, while the model narrative might vary in different situations, the general history of British patriotism might benefit from applying the evidence of my thesis to other examples. I challenge the significance of the familiar `otherness' paradigm of national identity, suggesting that the recognition of difference was only part of the patriotic narrative supplied by the NWAC. Further, my analysis is particularly concerned with the interactions between local, national and supranational sources of identity, often overlooked or under-examined by historians
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available