Englishness and Empire 1939-1965

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Overview

Did loss of imperial power and the end of empire have any significant impact on metropolitan culture and identity after 1939? Within a burgeoning literature on national identity and Englishness, this is a question that has received surprisingly little attention.
Drawing on extensive research in the media archive, Wendy Webster's highly readable study investigates popular narratives of nation, and the significance of empire and its legacies in shaping national identity after 1939. What were the tensions and uncertainties involved in defining a post-imperial nation? How did imperial legacies inform questions about who belonged in Britain and debates about race, immigration and nationality? What did the Commonwealth mean? What was the significance of America to the making of a post-imperial nation? Focusing on stories told through prolific filmic and television imagery - the Second World War, the Coronation and Everest, colonial wars of the 1950s, Winston Churchill's funeral - the book explores how far, and in what contexts and unexpected places, imperial identity and loss of imperial power resonated in popular narratives of nation.
A novel thematic focus on empire and Englishness in the post-1945 period makes this an important study for scholars and students of modern British history, empire and Commonwealth, decolonisation, migration, gender, ethnicity, and race.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Wendy Webster has written an engaging history of the relationship between the British people and their Empire during the years of transformation, 1939-65... Her book is an excellent example of the value of media evidence for historians and will remain a standard text for years to come."—IAMHIST prize judges

Wendy Webster's new book makes an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the effects of the loss of imperial power and the end of empire on British culture between 1939-65."—Catherine Hall, Twentieth Century British History

"Thoroughly researched, cogently argued and lucidly written, Englishness and Empire is an important work which deserves to be accorded major currency in the historiography of national identity."—James Chapman, History

"Englishness and Empire represents a thoroughly researched and thought-provoking monograph, which will prover invaluable to students and researchers across the humanities."—Shompa Lahiri, Journal of British Studies

"In this fascinating book, Wendy Webster explores the period of transition from imperial to post-imperial nation, surveying the repercussions on English culture."—Paul Ward, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History

"Webster's enduring theme is the tensions and contradictions between a variety of typically British resonances of empire in the end of empire era. Her aim is to redress a major blind-spot in the decolonisation literature. As the first monograph to take seriously the notion that the end of empire reverberated inwardly on metropolitan culture and society, it offers a lively and stimulating corrective to the 'minimal impact' thesis."—Stuart Ward, History Workshop Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199258604
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/12/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. The People's Empire and the People's War
3. The Post-War People's Empire
4. Coronation Britain
5. Colonial Wars
6. Immigration
7. Elegies for Empire: The Romance of Manliness
Epilogue
Bibliography

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