For Home and Country: World War I Propaganda on the Home Front

For Home and Country: World War I Propaganda on the Home Front

For Home and Country: World War I Propaganda on the Home Front

For Home and Country: World War I Propaganda on the Home Front

Synopsis

World War I prompted the first massive organized propaganda campaign of the twentieth century. Posters, pamphlets, and other media spread fear about the "Hun," who was often depicted threatening American families in their homes, while additional campaigns encouraged Americans and their allies to support the war effort. With most men actively involved in warfare, women and children became a special focus-and a tool-of social manipulation during the war. For Home and Country examines the propaganda that targeted noncombatants on the home front in the United States and Europe during World War I. Cookbooks, popular magazines, romance novels, and government food agencies targeted women in their homes, especially their kitchens, pressuring them to change their domestic habits. Children were also taught to fear the enemy and support the war through propaganda in the form of toys, games, and books. And when women and children were not the recipients of propaganda, they were often used in propaganda to target men. By examining a diverse collection of literary texts, songs, posters, and toys, Celia Malone Kingsbury reveals how these pervasive materials were used to fight the war's cultural battle.

Excerpt

As a child of the sixties, I cut my philosophical eye teeth, as it were, on the lyrics of Bob Dylan. He expressed exactly my dissatisfaction with the culture of the Eisenhower fifties, still very much intact in small-town America of the sixties. While the Cuban Missile Crisis taught us to live for the moment, Vietnam offered more complicated lessons concerning the overlap of political strategy and strategy on the front lines. In 1965, the year T. S. Eliot died, Dylan released a sort of kitchen sink protest song that lambasted everything from war to materialism to the ubiquitous issue of middle-class morality. Aside from being the source of one of Jimmy Carter’s favorite aphorisms—“He not being born / Is busy dying”—Dylan’s “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” raises another issue, that of propaganda. Dylan cites propaganda along with hypocritical morality and greed:

Old lady judges …
… push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn’t talk it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony.

In Dylan’s view, propaganda includes everything promoting that vacuous fifties way of life, from advertising to TV sitcoms. Since Dylan whacked the establishment, other rock groups have used the subject of propaganda as a way of rejecting whatever . . .

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