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Vocalizing the Angels of Mons: Audio Dramas as Propaganda in the Great War of 1914 to 1918

by Tim Crook 1,2
Department of Media Arts, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham Hill, Egham TW20 OEX, UK
Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London, Lewisham Way, London SE14 6NW, UK 
Societies 2014, 4(2), 180-221;
Received: 3 June 2013 / Revised: 20 April 2014 / Accepted: 28 April 2014 / Published: 8 May 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue War/Wars and Society)
Sound drama production prior to the onset of the “Radio Age” underwent a pioneering development during the Great War. This was achieved by the making, publication and distribution of short audio dramas acted with sound effects and music in front of early microphones and released in the form of 78 rpm phonograph discs. Entertaining storytelling through dramatic performance was mobilized for the purposes of improving recruitment and disseminating patriotic endorsement recordings. This article focuses on the sound dramatization of the myth of “The Angels of Mons” released by Regal in 1915. The recording is examined as a text for its significance in terms of propaganda, style of audio-drama, and any cultural role it may have played in the media of the First World War. The Regal disc was an example of what was described at the time as “descriptive sketches.” This article explores why a sound phonograph was used to dramatize the myth that angels intervened to assist the British Expeditionary Force to resist the German Army invading France through Belgium in 1914. A number of historians have discussed the First World War as being a theatre for the first modern media war, in which the process of propaganda was modernized. To what extent does “The Angels of Mons” phonograph and the genre of descriptive sketches support this analysis? Does this short sound drama play have any relevance to the cultural phenomena of spiritualism, modernism and patriotic Christianity identified as being important during the Great War period? View Full-Text
Keywords: sound drama; propaganda; mythology; audio-drama; spiritualism; modernism; phonograph sound drama; propaganda; mythology; audio-drama; spiritualism; modernism; phonograph
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Crook, T. Vocalizing the Angels of Mons: Audio Dramas as Propaganda in the Great War of 1914 to 1918. Societies 2014, 4, 180-221.

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