The rise of the German menace: imperial anxiety and British popular culture, 1896-1903

Longson, Patrick Adam (2014). The rise of the German menace: imperial anxiety and British popular culture, 1896-1903. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This dissertation argues that the idea of a German Menace was not simply a product of concerns about the defence of the British Isles, but rather it was born out of the mentality of British imperialism. Over the period 1896-1903, imperial antagonism between Germany and Britain, in various contexts around the globe, inspired the popular perception of the German Menace as a distinctly imperial threat. Where the established historiography locates the beginning of the Anglo-German rivalry within the development of the naval armaments race after 1904, this study traces the British fear of Germany much earlier and, crucially, much further away from the shores of the North Sea. The Dreadnought Race was a product of pre-existing anxieties; this thesis will explain the context of imperial anxiety out of which the coherent concept of the German Menace developed. It reveals how specific imperial crises informed British popular beliefs and how the stereotypes of German covetousness, autocracy and efficiency coalesced to form a powerful force in British society and politics that had reached its peak by 1903. By 1903 Germany was widely regarded as a menace to the British Empire.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
D History General and Old World > DD Germany


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