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Spectacle and power: Military imagery and the British Army, 1803-1856

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Title: Spectacle and power: Military imagery and the British Army, 1803-1856
Author(s): Myerly, Scott Hughes
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Arnstein, Walter L.
Department / Program: History
Discipline: History
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): History, European History, Modern Mass Communications
Abstract: In the early nineteenth century, the British army placed a high priority on maintaining a splendid outward spectacle, but this was not merely the result of sartorial frivolity on the past of military commanders. Images constitute a fundamental means by which peoples' opinions and actions are influenced, and the British army between 1803 and 1856 utilized uniform, ritual and ceremony as components of their system of management. A relationship between images and the exercise of power clearly existed which has previously been overlooked by military and social historians.Imagery played a vital role in maintaining control of an army which was underfed, ill-paid, understaffed, and yet charged with conquering and controlling an ever-expanding empire. Military imagery attracted recruits by counteracting the army's bad reputation among the civilian population, and it provided a focus of loyalty and morale within the ranks, helping to induce veterans to exert their last ounce of strength to perform their duty, even when they went without pay, food or hope. At the same time, the strict upkeep of the image served to promote discipline and obedience to the military hierarchy.Military images also presented both a threat and an attraction to the civilian population. The imposing effects of the imagery helped the military put down civil disorder, and the army's opponents often adopted forms of the imagery. Yet military spectacles were extremely popular among civilians of all classes, as is indicated by the many manifestations of military themes in British popular culture, including the stage, music, street entertainments, folk songs, and dress. Because of the power inherent in these images, the military spectacle became a metaphor for some civilian groups during the formative years of British industrialization.
Issue Date: 1990
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/19605
Rights Information: Copyright 1990 Myerly, Scott Hughes
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog: AAI9026277
OCLC Identifier: (UMI)AAI9026277
 

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