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    Advertising war: pictorial publicity, 1914 - 1918

    Green, Leanne (2015) Advertising war: pictorial publicity, 1914 - 1918. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    This research discusses pictorial publicity released in Britain during the period of the First World War. Based on the historic ‘War Publicity’ collection at IWM, it analyses a wealth of imagery produced by official, charitable and commercial concerns to assess the meanings about war that were absorbed and circulated by posters, propaganda and advertisements between 1914 and 1918. It provides an extensive examination of First World War pictorial publicity, and proposes a new methodology for looking at such material within both a visual and a historical context. The study proposes that as spaces of power, museum archives affect the way that their holdings are viewed and interpreted. It argues that the way that the ‘War Publicity’ collection has been negotiated and taxonomised at IWM has influenced how the visual culture of the First World War has consequently been considered. Exceptional examples of well-designed posters have achieved an elevated status, while commonplace imagery encountered in the everyday by the British public has been ignored. This thesis rectifies this by examining the ‘War Publicity’ collection as it would have been viewed: as a mass. In doing so, it is able to consider the narratives and discourses present in the visual culture of the war, and deduce how such meanings worked visually to convince the British public to support war aims. This research contributes to discussions in patriotism and citizenship during the First World War through the development of the concept of ‘patriotic citizenship’. ‘Patriotic citizenship’ describes the core visual language present in First World War publicity. It relied on convincing the viewer that in order to be a good British citizen, one must participate in prescribed forms of war-related activities such as joining the army, donating to wartime charities, economizing in food and buying war bonds and savings. This thesis examines how publicity worked visually to persuade the British public to subscribe to defined forms of participatory citizenship in the form of complying with British war aims, and the new representations that pictorial publicity was able to necessitate in the process.

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