This Conflict & Society research theme investigates the historical dimensions of information warfare. We're interested in propaganda, in particular the mobilisation of print culture, in the conduct of modern war. We pursue research into the politics of war commemoration, the histories of censorship, and the production and circulation of war narratives in the literary marketplaces of the English-speaking world from the 18th century to the present. Key projects are listed below.

Seven Seas’ English-language Paperbacks and the Cold War on the Bookshelf: Enlisting World Literature

In this ARC-funded project, Dr Christina Spittel draws on rich archival sources to write the history of a socialist book scheme, run out of the German Democratic Republic from 1953 to 1987. It documents how this small player in the cultural Cold War mobilised English-language writing, sourced mainly from England, the USA, India, Africa and Australia to produce attractive, affordable paperback edition for global export, to both sides of the iron curtain, with a particular focus on the developing world. This will further illuminate the complex roles played by books, authors and publishers in the Cultural Cold War, while also shifting our gaze away from a rigid, bipolar notion of a world dominated by “US-Soviet Antagonism”. 

The Supreme Court of Civilisation: Britain and the Battle for American Opinion 1914-1917

In this project, Dr Richard Dunley explores British attempts to shape American public and political opinion during the First World War. It charts how they established the first modern propaganda apparatus, and exploited the full range of techniques, from personal diplomacy, through print and film propaganda, to espionage. This campaign was an integral part of wider British policy towards the United States and the project seeks to connect the propaganda with the policies it was designed to support. In doing so it offers new perspectives on Anglo-American relations, and the US decision to enter the First World War. 

Does Social Media Improve Democracy in the Philippines? 

In this doctoral project, Noahlyn Maranan investigates the use of memes, circulated via Facebook, as weapons in the 2016 Presidential election in the Philippines. The study pays close attention to how these memes were enlisted in debates about national memory. Her research is supervised by Christina Spittel and Anthony Burke.