Picture This


Picture This

World War I Posters and Visual Culture

Edited and with an introduction by Pearl James

Studies in War, Society, and the Military Series

416 pages
53 illustrations


January 2010


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

January 2010


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

The First World War was waged through the participation not just of soldiers but of men, women, and children on the home front. Mass-produced, full-color, large-format war posters were both a sign and an instrument of this historic shift in warfare. War posters celebrated, in both their form and content, the modernity of the conflict. They also reached an enormous international audience through their prominent display and continual reproduction in pamphlets and magazines in every combatant nation, uniting diverse populations as viewers of the same image and bringing them closer, in an imaginary and powerful way, to the war.
Most war posters were aimed particularly at civilian populations. Posters nationalized, mobilized, and modernized those populations, thereby influencing how they viewed themselves and their activities. The home-front life—factory work, agricultural work, domestic work, the consumption and conservation of goods, as well as various forms of leisure—became, through the viewing of posters, emblematic of national identity and of each citizen’s place within the collective effort to win the war.
Essays by Jay Winter, Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Jennifer D. Keene, and others reveal the centrality of visual media, particularly the poster, within the specific national contexts of Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States during World War I. Ultimately, posters were not merely representations of popular understanding of the war, but instruments influencing the reach, meaning, and memory of the war in subtle and pervasive ways.

Author Bio

Pearl James is an assistant professor of English at the University of Kentucky. 
Contributors: Meg Albrinck, Richard S. Fogarty, Stefan Goebel, Nicoletta F. Gullace, Pearl James, Jakub Kazecki, Jennifer D. Keene, John M. Kinder, Mark Levitch, Jason Lieblang, Andrew Nedd, Jeffrey T. Schnapp, and Jay Winter.


"This is a fine addition to the growing body of literature on this somewhat ephemeral form of graphic communication."—S. Skaggs, CHOICE

"Readers' comprehension of World War I posters will be enriched well beyond their most thorough visual observations."—Barbara Steinson, Annals of Iowa

"Historians of war, politics, gender, culture, art, and literature will all benefit from the insights presented here."—David Welky, Journal of American History

"Picture This is a powerful edited collection in which the whole adds up to a great deal more than the sum of its parts."—Karen Petrone, Journal of Military History

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


Introduction: Reading World War I Posters

Pearl James

1. Imaginings of War: Posters and the Shadow of the Lost Generation

Jay Winter

Part 1. War Poster Campaigns and Images, Comparative Readings

2. Barbaric Anti-Modernism: Representations of the "Hun" in Britain, North America, Australia, and Beyond

Nicoletta F. Gullace

3. Chivalrous Knights versus Iron Warriors: Representations of the Battle of Matériel and Slaughter in Britain and Germany, 1914–1940

Stefan Goebel

4. Regression versus Progression: Fundamental Differences in German and American Posters of the First World War

Jakub Kazecki and Jason Lieblang

Part 2. Envisioning the Nation and Imagining National Aesthetics

5. Young Blood: Parisian Schoolgirls' Transformation of France's Great War Poster Aesthetic

Mark Levitch

6. Race and Empire in French Posters of the Great War

Richard S. Fogarty

7. Images of Racial Pride: African American Propaganda Posters in the First World War

Jennifer D. Keene

8. Segodniashnii Lubok: Art, War, and National Identity

Andrew M. Nedd

Part 3. Figuring the Body in the Context of War

9. Images of Femininity in American World War I Posters

Pearl James

10. Humanitarians and He-Men: Recruitment Posters and the Masculine Ideal

Meg Albrinck

11. Iconography of Injury: Encountering the Wounded Soldier's Body in American Poster Art and Photography of World War I

John M. Kinder


Jeffrey T. Schnapp

Selected Bibliography