At the beginning of the twentieth century the submarine was commonly perceived as cowardly because of its past uses in the hands of Confederates, Fenians and assorted anarchists. It bore the taint which colors all violence conducted without the protective auspices of recognized state control. Worse, submarines wielded great destructive potential whilst being hidden from view and kept safe from almost all forms of reprisal. British perceptions of the submarine changed dramatically in the early twentieth century. Journalism and fiction helped the public to weigh the submarine's potential impact upon future conflicts, crisis planning, diplomatic relations and maritime sovereignty as European relations steadily soured. This article examines the political and cultural dimensions of these discourses as well as the formation of the submarine's own mythopoeia in the popular imagination. How did a baleful instrument of separatist terror come to be seen instead as a prized national asset?[147 words]


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pp. 147-172
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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