Date of Award

Summer 8-2011

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Dr. Andrew A. Wiest

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Dr. Andrew P. Haley

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Dr. Michael S. Neiberg

Committee Member 3 Department



Cultural perceptions guided the American use of submarines during the twentieth century. Feared as an evil weapon during the First World War, guarded as a dirty secret during the Second World War, and heralded as the weapon of democracy during the Cold War, the American submarine story reveals the overwhelming influence of civilian culture over martial practices. The following study examines the roles that powerful political and military elites, newspaper editors and Hollywood executives, and ordinary citizens – equal players in a game larger than themselves – assumed throughout the evolution of submerged warfare from 1914 to 1991. In each period, cultural discourse about the vessels propelled the on-the-ground realities of implementing a practical, yet acceptable, approach to an often misunderstood weapon system.