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"How Art Wore Khaki and went into action": Propaganda, Popular Culture and the Great War
The First World War and Popular Culture Conference

University of Newcastle (UK), 31 March - 2 April 2006

Panel proposal

In September of 1914, the journalist and politician C.F.G. Masterman
invited Britain's leading novelists to a meeting at Wellington House in
London to discuss writing in support of the war. As the newly appointed
head of the War Propaganda Bureau, one of Masterman's first duties was to
recruit major popular authors of the time to help initiate the campaign to
justify Britain's military involvement in the war. Writers like Doyle even
brought Sherlock Holmes out of retirement to make him a witness to Hun

Critics of Masterman's propaganda called it too literary, too elite, and too rational, and in 1917 the WPB became superseded by the newly formed Ministry of Information. The new propaganda had to be more visual, aimed at the masses, and unafraid to use outright fabrication when needed. When America broke its neutrality and joined the Allied Cause, Woodrow Wilson created the Committee on Public Information, later called "the world's greatest adventure in advertising" by its Chairman George Creel, to justify America's entry into the war to the American public. Wilson had won his 1916 election on a "He kept us out of the war" ticket and it was crucial that he justify the government's change in policy to the public. Exploring the evolving notions of propaganda during the war means understanding, in the words of a poem by Wallace Irwin, "How Art put on khaki and went into action" ("Thoughts Inspired by a Wartime Billboard").

This panel will accept papers on the British and American propaganda ministries, their materials, their methods, their organisation, and their influence on popular culture as well as the relationship between propaganda and advertising after the war and the psychology of British and American propaganda during the First World War.

All 300 word proposals should be emailed to Anurag Jain at a.c.jain [at] qmul [dot] ac [dot] uk by September 8th, 2005.

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