This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.
Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.
The Political Warfare Executive and British Culture
An opportunity to find out about the Political Warfare Executive project, and some of the initial research being done into the interaction between wartime propaganda and British culture.
While ‘fake news’ is an urgent political topic at the moment, state-backed disinformation is a practice with a long and controversial history. During the Second World War, the Political Warfare Executive (PWE) was established by the British Government as a secret organisation with the mission of spreading propaganda to enemy and enemy-occupied countries. It conducted this propaganda through techniques such as rumour campaigns, broadcasts, leaflet and magazine drops, and forgeries.
To carry out its mission, the PWE recruited various well-known journalists, authors, intellectuals, artists, and actors, harnessing their publicly renowned talents towards these concealed propaganda campaigns.
In this seminar, members of 'The Political Warfare Executive, Covert Propaganda, and British Culture' project will discuss the research they have been conducting towards understanding the PWE's little-known interactions with the cultural sphere.
- James Smith will overview the structure of the PWE and its various forms of propaganda activity, and will discuss the roles some prominent authors and intellectuals came to play in the organisation.
- Guy Woodward will discuss his research in the archives of the PWE, and look at examples of magazines, pamphlets, and rumours created by the PWE.
- Beatriz Lopez will talk about her research on novelist and former PWE employee Muriel Spark, exploring Spark's fascination with the use of PWE storytelling techniques to create deceptive yet plausible narratives in her novels.
The seminar is open to all and free to attend, and there will be a chance for Q&A and discussion.
This seminar is organised by Durham's Centre for Modern Conflicts and Cultures. 'The Political Warfare Executive, Covert Propaganda, and British Culture' project is funded by the Leverhulme Trust.
Contact email@example.com for more information about this event.
Research in English At Durham (READ) blog showcasing the the literary research emerging from the Department of English Studies
We host a large number of conferences, lectures and seminars each year, many of them open to the public. Find out more on our Events page.
Many of our public lectures, seminars and conferences are recorded, and can be listened to as podcasts.
- 20th January 2021
- Sensory Experiments in Nineteenth-Century Literature
- Online (Zoom)
- Dr Erica Fretwell (University of Albany) and Dr Shannon Draucker (Siena College)