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  • War Games: Cold War Britain in film and fiction

Curtis, Barry, 2008, Book Section, War Games: Cold War Britain in film and fiction In: Cold War Modern: Design 1945–1970. V&A Publishing. ISBN 9781851775439

Abstract or Description:

This essay, commissioned for a book accompanying a major exhibition at the V&A Museum, traces the impact of cold-war anxieties in different fields of popular culture, literature, film in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s. It is a development of Curtis’s long-standing research expertise in post-war British culture, evidenced by his extensive investigations into the work of architects and artists, including the Independent Group and Archigram. Drawing a contrast with the high anxieties and fantasies of cold-war America in the period, Curtis examines why ‘the signs and the scenarios of the Cold War conflict were relatively subdued’ in the UK. Curtis set himself the task of producing an analysis and evocation of the period in British culture that is commensurate with the extensive literature relating to the USA in the same years.
To conduct research into the effects of the cold-war conflict in the UK, the essay combines analysis of many of the period’s public voices, who used the arts and media to express critical views of the threat of nuclear war, with an interrogation of Home Office papers in the National Archives. Curtis also made use of the Krazy Kat Arkive of Twentieth Century Popular Culture (National Art Library/V&A Archive of Art and Design), amassed by artist Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, alongside an extensive range of texts and other representations from the period, including films, television drama, comics, graphics, poetry, journalism and novels.
The resulting essay is an original analysis of cold-war culture in Britain. In his review of the Cold War Modern book in the Journal of Architecture (2010), Professor Murray Fraser singled out Curtis’s essay as a particularly insightful contribution to the volume.

Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies
School or Centre: School of Humanities
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2013 16:12
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2014 11:56
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1442

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