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Englishness and Empire 1939-1965$
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Wendy Webster

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199226641

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226641.001.0001

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The Post-War People’s Empire

The Post-War People’s Empire

Chapter:
(p.55) 3 The Post-War People’s Empire
Source:
Englishness and Empire 1939-1965
Author(s):

WENDY WEBSTER

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226641.003.0003

This chapter shows how adventure tales of the Second World War in the 1950s offered a new energizing myth of nation. If wartime imagery represented a high point in inclusive imagery of Britishness, the reworking of Second World War narratives from a ‘people's war’ to a ‘hero's war’ produced a far more exclusive story. The inclusiveness of wartime imagery had been, in part, a product of the need to recruit to the war effort. The shift to an exclusive story of national greatness in the 1950s meant that Second World War imagery took over the territory which empire imagery vacated, and in the 1950s, the war film bore more resemblance to the pre-war empire genre than the post-war empire film. Second World War narratives, transposing manly and high-minded heroes from an imperial to a Second World War setting, offered a new myth of national destiny.

Keywords:   war, empire, British culture, people's war, people's empire, Second World War narratives

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