Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Frederick Corney

Committee Members

Kathrin Levitan

Laurie Koloski

Bruce Campbell


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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