One of my current tasks is to define an hypothesis. This is the question that I will be seeking to answer in my thesis, and so it's what my research will revolve around. It's not an easy thing to do. I know what I'd like to research, but you don't get a PhD for just reading a lot of books or whatever. There needs to be a point to your research: a why as well as a what. And I haven't really been getting to grips with that. Until very recently, that is – oddly enough the night before I had a meeting with both my supervisors! Funny how that happens.
What I think the thesis is about is the political uses of catastrophe (a word my supervisor came up with, which I rather like) – how the commonly-held fear of air attack was used by different groups and individuals for different ends. Because what strikes me as interesting is the way that for example, pacifists used exactly the same apocalyptic imagery of the knock-out blow as their ideological opponents, but used it for completely different purposes. So, to take just one example, virtually everyone agreed that the next war would see London in flames and tens or hundreds of thousands dead from bombs and gas within days or weeks. If you were a pacifist, this "proved" that international disarmament was an urgent necessity. But if you were a militarist (not necessarily the word I want, but it will do), then this "proved" that instead Britain needed lots of bombers of its own to act as a deterrent and/or reprisal force.
It's still not quite there. But this formulation allows me to talk about most of the things that interest me about my overall topic … the relationship between fascism and aviation … the strange hatred the Peace Pledge Union seems to have had for air-raid precautions … the idea that airpower might provide a basis for world government … all sorts of things. So I'm on the right track!
Now, if only I could finally settle on my exact chronological focus …
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