Imperialism and Popular Culture

Popular culture is invariably a vehicle for the dominant ideas of its age. Never was this more true than in the late-19th and early 20th centuries, when it reflected the nationalist and imperialist ideologies current throughout Europe. This book examines the various media through which nationalist ideas were conveyed in late-Victorian and Edwardian times in the theatre, "ethnic" shows, juvenile literature, education and the iconography of popular art. Nineteenth-century music hall was known as the 'fount of patriotism'. A heroic and romantic vision of Empire helped to widen the appeal of British imperialism, which newspaper and magazine editors insisted on communicating to the new mass reading public. Juvenile fiction included Victorian children's books, and very few seemed deliberately anti-imperialist. The book offers a bridge between the pre-1914 period and the interwar years and between the public school and state school systems. It discusses the case of Peter Lobengula as a focus for racial attributes in late Victorian and Edwardian times. The imperial economic vision lay ready to hand for the publicists and public relations men who saw the Empire Marketing Board as one of the great opportunities in the inter-war years to develop their craft. The book also argues that whereas the Scout movement was created in the atmosphere of defensive Empire in the Edwardian period, Scouting ideology underwent a significant change in the post-war years. Girl Guides remind us that the role of girls and women in youth organisations and imperial ideologies has been too little studied.

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