Between Policy Making and the Public Sphere: The Role of Rhetoric in Anglo-French Imperial Relations, 1940-1945
Chin, Rachel Renee
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
As stated in my thesis submission form, I am requesting that this item be under embargo for a period of 18 months. This will allow me to submit book proposals based upon the work conducted in the thesis.
Reason for embargo
I wish to publish papers and or a book from this thesis. Making it available in a repository will compromise my ability to do this as it will have acquired published status.
The long history of Anglo-French relations has often been acrimonious. After the German defeat of France in June 1940 the right to represent the French nation was contested by Philippe Pétain’s Vichy government and Charles de Gualle’s London-based Free French resistance movement. This thesis will examine the highly complex relationship between Britain and these two competing sources of Frenchness between 1940 and 1945. It will do so through a series of empire-themed “crisis points,” which contributed to a heightened state of Anglo-French tension affecting all three actors. This study uses rhetoric as a means to link decision makers or statesman to the public sphere. It argues that policy makers, whether in the British War Cabinet, de Gaulle’s headquarters at Carlton Gardens, or Pétain’s ministries at Vichy anticipated how their policies were likely to be received by a group or groups of individuals. These were individuals who contributed towards what decision makers believed to be public opinion. Perceptions of public opinion, in other words, played a vital role in policy creation. In turn, the desire to get one or more sectors of the public “on board” with a particular policy or wartime operation gave rhetoric a place of primary importance. Specifically, we will see how policy makers carefully constructed and revised public statements and speeches. When these external communications and explanations are placed side by side with internal official discussions, it will become evident that rhetoric is itself a vital strategic tool. The grammatical constructions and vocabulary that made up official statements and mass media responses shed light on broader wartime themes including victory and defeat, allies and enemies, power, sovereignty, neutrality and morality. Ultimately, acknowledging that rhetoric is an inherent part of policy making allows us to better understand the links between the governing bodies of a nation and those who have a stake in its policies. At the same time, it allows us to see how less tangible normative factors continue to impact this process.
The Leverhulme Trust
The University of Exeter
The Royal Historical Society
The Economic History Society
Santander Postgraduate Research Fund
Under Contract. 2016. “’The Real Question at Issue’ Mers el-Kébir and the Rhetoric of Imperial Confrontation.” In Rhetorics of Empire: Languages of Colonial Conflict after 1900, edited by Martin Thomas and Richard Toye, 91-108. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
PhD in History