Date of Award

8-1-2012

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

History

First Advisor

Sramek, Joseph

Abstract

Historically, nationalism has been most apparent during times of conflict and struggle. During the First World War, every nation involved attempted to mobilize both industry and manpower towards the war effort. Unlike the other Belligerent Powers, Britain was encumbered by a tradition of voluntary enlistment until the introduction of conscription in 1916. This meant that the government had to convince the men of their nation to join the military. Many scholars have studied the role of recruitment posters in this historical endeavor as well as the role played by society in persuading young men to join the military. This Thesis couples both lines of historiography in order to better understand how the British government targeted a man's masculinity in order to recruit him. Victorian middle-class gendered concepts of public service, private/public spheres, fraternal obligations and ethnicity were all depicted on the surfaces of British recruitment posters. Thus this Thesis argues that the presence of these masculine markers within British recruitment propaganda suggests the British government attempted to mobilize masculinity towards winning the First World War. It also presses for a gendered view of nationalism in the historiography concerned with understanding British nationalist sentiment during the early twentieth-century. By integrating gender and nationalism into a visual analysis of various British war posters, it offers a new perspective on the government's recruitment strategies employed during the first two years of the First World War.

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