English 250

Research Seminar: Postwar British Literary Culture at Mid-Century

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Fall 2009 Premnath, Gautam
Premnath, Gautam
W 3-6 205 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

The booklist for this course has not been finalized, but is likely to include several of the following texts: Orwell, G.: The Road to Wigan Pier; Warner, R.: The Aerodrome; Greene, G.: The End of the Affair; Waugh, E.: Men at Arms; Wilson, A.: Anglo-Saxon Attitudes; Selvon, S.: The Lonely Londoners; Sillitoe, A.: The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner; Berger, J.: A Painter of Our Time; Lessing, D.: The Golden Notebook; Achebe, C.: Things Fall Apart; Dunn, N.: Up the Junction; Delaney, S.: A Taste of Honey; Osborne, J.: The Entertainer; and a course reader


1945 continues to serve as the central periodizing marker of twentieth-century literary history, separating the long arc of high modernism from a sprawling expanse of time loosely understood as “contemporary.” This course will attempt to develop a more fine-grained analysis of British literary culture in the roughly 15 years following the end of the Second World War. The course will commence with a small grouping of works from the 1930s and early 40s that anticipate the postwar future. We’ll then move through a series of significant post-1945 works, aiming to explore a set of linked concerns: literary registrations of the ascendancy of social democracy and the welfare state; the reckoning with the legacies of prewar modernism; the widespread preoccupation during these years with questions of realist representation; and the emergence of the nascent literary formation we now call “postcolonial literature.” Our reading list will center upon the novel, with some attention to work in other genres. The course reader will give extensive play to the vibrant, often volatile critical debates of the time, while also featuring more recent works of theory and criticism by an eclectic range of figures (including Denning, Esty, Gilroy, Hardt and Negri, Hebdige, Offe, Samuel, Sinfield, Steedman, and Williams).

Other Recent Sections of This Course

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