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Research Projects 


The Political Warfare Executive, Covert 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. Funded by the Leverhulme Trust and based in the Department of English Studies at Durham University, this research project is investigating the Political Warfare Executive (PWE), a secret organisation created by Britain during the Second World War with the mission of spreading propaganda to the enemy. 

Visit the project blog for more information and the latest fascinating finds from the archives. 

News Feed: from the Political Warfare Executive blog 
Visit the Political Warfare Executive project website and blog ◂ 


Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once 

Guy Woodward finds echoes of PWE campaigns in a classic sitcom After two years researching the Political Warfare Executive, I am beginning to find echoes of the agency and its work in all sorts of unexpected places. Watching some episodes of the venerable BBC sitcom Allo, Allo! the other day, for instance, I noticed a subplot … Continue reading "Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once" 

(9 Oct 2020) » Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once 

“Jangling caterwauls”: Muriel Spark and the scrambler telephone 

Beatriz Lopez explores Spark’s wartime use of a secure telephone and considers the device’s later disturbing reappearance in her novel The Hothouse by the East River (1973) Successful wartime propaganda depended on a constant supply of reliable and up-to-date intelligence, information which – to guarantee security – British propagandists often received via a scrambler telephone. … Continue reading "“Jangling caterwauls”: Muriel Spark and the scrambler telephone" 

(27 May 2020) » “Jangling caterwauls”: Muriel Spark and the scrambler telephone 

Anti-malarial disinformation 

James Smith finds disturbing echoes of a British wartime disinformation campaign in recent White House press conferences In August 1941, British propagandists devised a sequence of disinformation rumours (known as ‘sibs’) for dissemination in Germany, with the aim of spreading “the fear of disease coming from the east, with the threefold intention of upsetting morale, … Continue reading "Anti-malarial disinformation" 

(26 May 2020) » Anti-malarial disinformation