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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access August 12, 2019

On Things from Sea and Shore: British Naval Heroism in Material Culture

  • Ulrike Zimmermann EMAIL logo
From the journal Open Cultural Studies


This article examines social participation and the dissemination of cultural knowledge through artefacts, and analyses how unspectacular and mundane everyday objects manage to convey ideas of the exceptional and heroic, as, for example, in the case of Admiral Lord Nelson and the souvenir culture surrounding him and his victories. Over the course of the eighteenth century, the British Empire expanded and consolidated its global influence, relying heavily on the British Navy in the process. Public interest in the Navy—and in its prominent figures—increased and was also consciously promoted, and, as a consequence, elements of maritime culture were taken up and adapted in everyday culture. Nautically inspired artefacts became the fashion, and the new opportunities for mass production contributed to their proliferation. Thus, admiration for a naval hero found its expression in a multitude of artefacts which, taken by themselves, have nothing of the heroic about them but taken en masse demonstrate the significance of naval prowess in this period, and the forging of connections between the domestic to the foreign sphere.

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Received: 2018-09-14
Accepted: 2019-06-27
Published Online: 2019-08-12
Published in Print: 2019-01-01

© 2019 Ulrike Zimmermann, published by De Gruyter Open

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

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