Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Deslandes, Paul


The legacies of World War I in British culture are often explained by terms such as disillusionment and futility or by the understanding that the war shattered nineteenth century ideas of progress. These were not, however, the images of the war offered by the nation’s public and state sponsored secondary schools during the interwar years. By examining the categories of commemoration and curriculum, this study explores how British educational institutions mobilized the memory of the war in order to avoid cynicism and promote traditional forms of national, class, and gender identity. The first two chapters focus on how school memorials grew out of wartime communication within extended school communities in a way that privileged a heroic and traditional language of “high diction,” a concept developed by Paul Fussell. The following two chapters explore the ways in which discussions of how and why to teach history created a rhetoric of non-revolutionary citizenship and shaped portrayals of the war itself in a variety of British textbooks. Both processes elevated ideas including national and imperial patriotism, sportsmanship, self-sacrifice, personal and international leadership, and a continued faith in progress. This was initially accomplished by the exclusion of other possible narratives of the war, but the success of this interwar educational narrative was, in turn, undermined by subsequent economic and political events.