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Modernism and utopia, 1900-1920: politics and social betterment in early modernist writing

Waddell, Nathan Joseph (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

This thesis considers the early twentieth-century writings of four modernist writers – Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, D. H. Lawrence, and Wyndham Lewis – in relation to the problem of utopianism. The introductory chapter provides an overview of current scholarly debates concerning the nature and structure of utopian thinking, and establishes the broad context in which the above writers are considered in the argument that follows. The thesis works with an inclusive definition of utopianism that views it as an expression of the urge to better society, as opposed to an urge to realize social perfection. After a wide-ranging summary of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century utopian discourses, a summary that attends to the pre-First World War criticism of T. E. Hulme and Ezra Pound, the thesis turns to individual, ‘case study’ chapters that focus on the above-mentioned quartet of writers. Each chapter looks at a key issue: Conrad in relation to political anarchism; Ford in relation to urban design; Lawrence in relation to utopian philosophies of labour; and Lewis in relation to the linkages between the historical avant-garde and the betterment of society. The main claims running throughout the thesis are that in the period under consideration the links between modernism and utopianism are: complex; multi-sided and author-specific; politically multifarious; and insufficiently acknowledged by contemporary critics.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Gąsiorek, Andrzej (1960-)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of English
Additional Information:

A revised version of this work is published as

Wadell, Nathan
Modernist Nowheres: Politics and Utopia in Early Modernist Writing, 1900-1920
Palgrave Macmillan, 2012
9780230278998
http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=472815

Subjects:HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
PN Literature (General)
PR English literature
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1377
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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