The Birmingham group: reading the second city in the 1930s

Harriott, Robin Christopher (2021). The Birmingham group: reading the second city in the 1930s. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Described politically as propagandistic: the imposition of political dogma on creativity; the literature of a party disguised as the literature of a class and often dismissed as: conservative; lacking in invention, or simply the naive emulation of bourgeois realism, attempts to define 'Proletarian', or 'Working-Class' fiction and vouchsafe the 'authenticity' of its creators have continually proven resistant to any single or easy definition. This thesis will argue that the narratives of the Birmingham group rather than constrained by such narrow and negative assessments, present instead as a direct challenge to and refutation of them.

Departing from traditional views of working-class writing as a genre informed by male-oriented notions of class-solidarity or contemporary critiques which, during a period of representational experimentation, had somewhat perfunctorily seen working-class literature indebted to the more individualistic concerns of bourgeois realism, this thesis will suggest that the narratives of the Birmingham group are more accurately characterised by the diversity of their innovative and formal approach. Far from politically quiescent they operate in the liminal space between overt propaganda and addressedness to reveal how intersections of class, gender and sexual identity frequently overlooked due to the critical legacy of patriarchal and workerist assumptions, were, from the outset not only present in their narratives but also prescient of political and formal issues raised in the more recent discussion of working-class literature.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and Creative Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism


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