Date Thesis Awarded

4-2017

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

History

Advisor

Frederick Corney

Committee Member

Kathrin Levitan

Committee Member

Laurie Koloski

Committee Member

Bruce Campbell

Abstract

This thesis examines the construction of a myth of egalitarianism in Britain during the Second World War and subsequent challenges to it under austerity in the immediate postwar years. It engineers the 1951 Festival of Britain as a lens through which to track a history of hope for and disillusionment with socialist reconstruction legislation, addressing the following key questions: How did expectations for postwar social harmony clash with the 'New Britain' delivered by the Labour government after 1945? In what ways did this tension motivate the organization of a festival for the nation, about the nation? Featuring the prophecies of H.G. Wells and George Orwell, baby starvation techniques, modern toilet seat aesthetics, and a particularly striking piece of steak, this thesis endeavors to question the agenda of the Festival of Britain beyond its recognized role as "a tonic to the nation."

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