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Palgrave Macmillan

Literary Politics

The Politics of Literature and the Literature of Politics

ISBN 9781137270139
Publication Date October 2013
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

This collection begins from the assumption that the boundaries of English Literature as a subject area in schools and universities are necessarily political and arena for constant renegotiation and debate. The academic Literature syllabus has never been a stable phenomenon, but has been constantly subject to to interventions, whether these are explicitly political or not. The essays here identify and debate competing definitions of 'English Studies' as an academic subject, and celebrate the diversity of contemporary literary studies, and demonstrate the ways in which a range of literary texts can be understood as politically engaged, sometimes in unexpected ways.
The contributions span a variety of different texts and historical periods, but each of them addresses a moment in which the interface between literature and a political context is particularly apparent. They range across the wide landscape of current undergraduate provision in university English departments and extend into the school curriculum and children's fiction. From the co-option of Shakespeare by the British National Party to the apparent conservatism of the inter-war novel and the poetry that emerged from the UK Miner's Strike, the collection of papers addresses key areas across the curriculum in schools and colleges, in a chronology that ranges from the Renaissance to the contemporary. There are also contributions from academics directly engaged with the configuration of Literature as a subject in secondary schools and universities. The collection as a whole is a intervention into current debates within literary critical theory, and education, and a reflection on the state of 'Literature' as a subject in Cameron's coalition Britain and in Gove's new world of education. Together, the papers testify to the great variety of work on the politics of teaching literature and of literary criticism in the context of the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Deborah Philips is Professor of Literature and Cultural History at the University of Brighton, UK. She has published on feminist theory, post war fiction and popular culture. Her books include Fairground Attractions: A genealogy of the pleasure ground (2012), Writing Romance: Women's Fiction 1945-2005 ( 2006), with Garry Whannel The Trojan Horse: the growth of commercial sponsorship ( 2013), with Ian Haywood, Brave New Causes (1998), and with Liz Linnington and Debra Penman Writing Well: Creative Writing and Mental Health (1999).

Katy Shaw is a leading authority on the literature of the 1984-85 UK miner's strike and twenty first century writings. Her research interests include contemporary literature, especially working class literature, cultural representations of post-industrial regeneration and the languages of comedy. She is editor of C21 Literature: Journal of 21st Century Writing and Director of the C21 Centre for research at the University of Brighton. She is the author of Mining the Meaning: Cultural representations of the 1984-85 UK miner's strike (2012), David Peace: Texts and Contexts (2011), and the editor of Analysing David Peace (2011). She is currently completing a monograph Hauntology A Critical Introduction.


Notes on the Contributors

Introduction: The Politics of Literature and the Literature of Politics; Deborah Philips
1. Literature and Politics; Stuart Laing
2. Shakespeare v The BNP; Adam Hansen
3. Roaring Boys and Weeping Men: Radical Masculinity in Webster's The Duchess of Malfi; Kate Aughterson
4. Having the last word: World War I fictions as counter-narratives; Zacharoula Christopoulou
5. 'Show an Affirming Flame': writers and readers in modern dark times; Rosalind Brunt
6. Literature, Politics And History; Paddy Maguire
7. The Politics of Nostalgia in the Rural English Novel; Dominic Head
8. (Re)Writing the 1984-5 UK Miners' Strike; Katy Shaw
9. Can the environment be saved? Post-apocalyptic children's novels of the 1980s; Dave Simpson
10. The politics of enhancement: the last days of the English Subject Centre; Ben Knights



Kate Aughterson, University of Brighton, UK
Rosalind Brunt, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
Zacharoula Christopoulou, University College, London, UK
Adam Hansen, Northumbria University, UK
Dominic Head, University of Nottingham, UK
Ben Knights taught at the universities of Cambridge, Durham and Teesside, UK
Stuart Laing, University of Brighton, UK
Paddy Maguire, University of Brighton, UK
Deborah Philips, University of Brighton, UK
Katy Shaw, University of Brighton, UK
Dave Simpson, University of Brighton, UK


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