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  • British Working-Class Writing: Paradox and Tension as Genre Motif

    Simon Lee

    Chapter from the book: Nilsson M. & Lennon J. 2017. Working-Class Literature(s): Historical and International Perspectives.

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    This chapter traces the development of working-class writing in British culture, identifying parallels and disparities of the genre across transnational lines. Commencing with the Industrial Revolution and the formation of the modern class system, the chapter touches on cultural events and flashpoints that informed working-class representation as well as literary production by working-class people. Spanning from the Chartist movement to the recent rise of class-conscious indie presses and alliances, the chapter offers an expansive overview of British working-class cultural production. In the process, the chapter interrogates the way aesthetic and ethical principles fluctuate across over time, illustrating how form and function are periodically at odds. Consequently, the chapter considers how aesthetic and ethical imbalance reflects class struggle writ large, suggesting how formal tension can be read as a productive and persistent feature rather than as a bug of the genre. Such imbalance, it might be said, acts as a homeostatic safeguard against the commodification of fetishized class identities, rendering working-class writing as dynamic and contingent—a genre that shifts to meet the needs of those it represents.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Lee, S. 2017. British Working-Class Writing: Paradox and Tension as Genre Motif. In: Nilsson M. & Lennon J (eds.), Working-Class Literature(s). Stockholm: Stockholm University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16993/bam.g

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on Dec. 13, 2017


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