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The Cultural Memory of Britain's Cold War

Marshall, Sarah (2021) The Cultural Memory of Britain's Cold War. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

In recent years the Cold War has increasingly become a popular topic for museums, films, and television series. The sustained popularity of Cold War characters and events continue to bring the Cold War back into the contemporary world and to contemporary audiences. Films, series, and exhibitions which capture the Cold War serve to recall, reflect, and shape Britain’s cultural memory of the period. This thesis assesses a number of post-1989 cultural portrayals of the Cold War to explore how Britain remembers the conflict. It will demonstrate that the ambiguous nature of the Cold War and Britain’s role within it has caused challenges for constructing a British Cold War narrative. This thesis argues that this ambiguity raises questions of how to remember the conflict; this uncertainty leading to variations in portrayals. The ambiguity is reflected in portrayals focusing on key events and often dramatizing and exaggerating high points of the conflict, creating this sense of a dark and troubled period. The cultural memory of a troubled period is further enhanced by comparisons between the Cold War and the Second World War, demonstrating the influences of wartime memory on that of the Cold War. Wartime Britain is often contrasted as a time of victory in comparison to the Cold War as a period of decline for Britain and a difficult past to acknowledge. Equally, today’s world is also shown to shape Britain’s cultural memory of the Cold War, creating a sense of nostalgia for the certainty of the past. Through this exploration, this thesis contributes to the growing literature on Cold War memory and contributes to an understanding of the impact and legacy of the Cold War in Britain.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cold War, Memory, Cultural Memory, Britain's Cold War, Memory Studies
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Sarah Marshall
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2021 13:11
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2021 13:11
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/30957

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