Murky waters: the representation of negative and subversive actualities of the Royal Navy during the French wars 1793-1815

Jones, Victoria Grace (2014). Murky waters: the representation of negative and subversive actualities of the Royal Navy during the French wars 1793-1815. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis explores the representation of negative and subversive aspects of the Royal Navy and its seamen during the French Wars, 1793-1815, in contemporary print culture. Visual analysis, supported by archival research, is used to show that evasion and exaggeration were key in the representation of such subjects. The figure of Jack Tar (the common seaman) and the facets of his service referenced in works on paper are investigated as constructs. It is argued that such historical documents confirmed and perpetuated misconceptions informed by dominant expectations, values and concerns. Such depictions, often satirical, are indicative of broader material and ideological contexts. Issues collectively and individually salient for Britons’ and naval seamen are shown to have included those of identity, liberty, state power, subordination, morality and sacrifice. These are revealed to be central to the construction of the notorious naval tar by printmakers, audiences, writers, publishers, politicians, officers, seamen themselves and even historians. In a chronological narrative from recruitment to cessation of service, the thesis explores the experiences of this infamous naval character through his contemporary representation.

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 Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR


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