It’s a modern way to announce something:
Yes, I’m waiting to see if the Imperial War Museum, or other, will be interested in publishing my PhD as a book. I still have many people ask when it’s going to be published, and despite the wish of many, I don’t think Keep Calm and Carry On is going to go away! It’s an 11 page document, but here’s the initial overview:
Keep Calm and Carry On: Visualising The People’s War in Posters
(British Home Front Propaganda Posters of the Second World War)
In 1939, the poster ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ was designed, printed, but never distributed by the British Government. The poster was part of a series designed for the Second World War, but came to prominence in 2008/9 alongside the economic crisis. Ten years later, in 2019, eighty years after it was designed, the tourist gift shops continue to be full of mugs, aprons, bags with the slogan ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’, or one of its many subverted versions. It was ‘discovered’ by Barter Books in 2001, was picked up by the media in 2005, and resulted in the BBC questioning in 2009 if it was ‘the greatest motivational poster ever’? Why do people from so many corners of the globe recognise it, love it, and purchase it? Do they understand where this poster fits within the wider story of propaganda posters produced by the British government, designed largely for the British civilian population in the Second World War? This book will give that wider picture.
Following introductory chapters in which propaganda theories, poster design from the 1890s through to 1939, and the production and distribution processes of the Ministry of Information (MOI) are addressed, the book will continue with four themed case studies, examining poster foci in depth, each structured around its context and planning, design, and reception. The themes will address the ‘imagined community’ that people believed they were fighting for, industrial propaganda campaigns, a focus upon ‘the enemy within’ (particularly ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives’), and those compromising the war effort through their sexual behaviour, putting themselves at risk of venereal disease.
The book will conclude by bringing us back from the past to the present, seeking to understand why wartime propaganda posters have intruded upon the public consciousness at particular points in recent decades. In particular, it will focus upon how the commercialization of history, and the development of ‘a digital age’ have contributed to the popularity of Keep Calm and Carry On.
There is the potential for an appendix to contain biographies of poster artists from the Second World War, collated alphabetically.
‘Keep Calm and Carry On’: Introduction
Chapter 1: ‘Your Country Needs You’: The Pre-War British Experience of the Propaganda Poster
Chapter 2: ‘Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution’: Commissioning, Design & Distribution: The MOI and Morale
Chapter 3: ‘Your Britain: Fight for it Now’: Representations of ‘Your Britain’, Urban and Rural
Chapter 4: ‘The Attack Begins in the Factory’: Industrial Posters
Chapter 5: ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives’: Fighting the ‘Enemy Within’
Chapter 6: ‘VD: Delay is Dangerous’: The ‘Problem’ of Venereal Disease in Wartime
‘The Dawn of Victory’: Conclusion – From the Past to the Present
Let’s see what happens – there’s always a crowd-funding option as a possibility, but the Imperial War Museum is where my interest in this topic started … when I saw the ‘Women of Britain, Come Into the Factories‘ poster caught my eye… and – on a pragmatic level – they manage the copyright to all the posters.
Mass Communications Academic, @MMUBS. British Home Front Propaganda posters as researched for a PhD completed 2004. In 1997, unwittingly wrote the first history of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster, which she now follows with interest.