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A History of 1930s British Literature


Benjamin Kohlmann, Matthew Taunton, Kristin Bluemel, Emma Zimmerman, Nick Hubble, Kristin Ewins, Glyn Salton-Cox, Andrew Thacker, Rachel Potter, Vike Martina Plock, Peter Marks, Ian Whittington, Laura Marcus, James Purdon, Rod Mengham, Louise Wiggins, Tyrus Miller, Leo Mellor, Suzanne Hobson, Janice Ho, Boris Jardine, John Connor, Greg Barnhisel, Patricia Rae, Marina MacKay, Peter Kalliney, Laura Winkiel
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  • Date Published: May 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108474535

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About the Authors
  • This History offers a new and comprehensive picture of 1930s British literature. The '30s have often been cast as a literary-historical anomaly, either as a 'low, dishonest decade', a doomed experiment in combining art and politics, or as a 'late modernist' afterthought to the intense period of artistic experimentation in the 1920s. By contrast, the contributors to this volume explore the contours of a 'long 1930s' by repositioning the decade and its characteristic concerns at the heart of twentieth-century literary history. This book expands the range of writers covered, moving beyond a narrow focus on towering canonical figures to draw in a more diverse cast of characters, in terms of race, gender, class, and forms of artistic expression. The book's four sections emphasize the decade's characteristic geographical and sexual identities; the new media landscapes and institutional settings its writers operated in; questions of commitment and autonomy; and British writing's international entanglements.

    • Offers a new understanding of a key transformational moment in British literary history
    • Includes work on institutional history, mid-century literature and culture, little magazines, and newly accessible archives
    • Situates the decade at the centre of twentieth-century literary culture as a 'long 1930s'
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… a vast compendium edited by Benjamin Kohlmann and Matthew Taunton, full of penetrating insights into a decade one had previously thought over-explored.' D. J. Taylor, The Times Literary Supplement

    ' …essay after essay shows careful study, archival attention, and a strong editorial hand … the editors have done a fine job of presenting an interesting array of research which certainly does some fine direction pointing for future research.' Matthew Chambers, The Modernist Review

    'The range, intelligence, originality and scholarship of its essays make this a valuable collection.' Alistair Davies, Textual Practice

    'The volume supports and extends scholarship that recognizes the decade's connections to as well as departures from modernism, and that seeks to more closely understand the distinctive forms and practices, and broadening networks of writers and professionals in the cultural sphere, that emerged during the thirties … This volume showcases the breadth, diversity and vitality of 1930s cultural texts and producers (stretching the purely literary to other media including music, film, and radio), and offers an invaluable resource for students and scholars.' Naomi Milthorpe, The Space Between: Literature and Culture 1914–1945

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108474535
    • length: 474 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 30 mm
    • weight: 0.81kg
    • contains: 9 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: the long 1930s Benjamin Kohlmann and Matthew Taunton
    Part I. Mapping a New Decade: Geographies and Identities:
    1. Beyond Englishness: the regional and rural novel in the 1930s Kristin Bluemel
    2. Uncanny cities: urban geographies and metropolitan life in the 1930s Emma Zimmerman
    3. The making of the working class: proletarian writing in the 1930s Nick Hubble
    4. Professional women writers Kristin Ewins
    5. Queer communist formations: coterie, counterpublic, cell Glyn Salton-Cox
    Part II. Media Histories and the Institutions of Literature:
    6. Circulating literature: libraries, bookshops, and book clubs Andrew Thacker
    7. Literature and education in the long 1930s Matthew Taunton
    8. International PEN: writers, free expression, organisations Rachel Potter
    9. The new reading public: modernism, popular literature, and the paperbacks Vike Martina Plock
    10. Debatable ground: journalism, pamphlets, and social critique Peter Marks
    11. 'Hypocrite auditeur, mon semblable, mon frère': literature and the border of the radio public Ian Whittington
    12. Talking films Laura Marcus
    13. Telemediations James Purdon
    Part III. Commitment and Autonomy:
    14. Ambiguity run riot: film-mindedness in the 1930s avant garde Rod Mengham
    15. 'A vein of insularity': British music in the long 1930s Louise Wiggins
    16. Representing fascism in 1930s literature Tyrus Miller
    17. The documentary impulse Leo Mellor
    18. Religion, modernism and Anglo-agnostics: (un) belief and fiction in the 1930s Suzanne Hobson
    19. The colonial state and transnational welfare during the 1930s Depression Janice Ho
    20. The scientific imagination and the politics of objectivity Boris Jardine
    Part IV. The Global 1930s: Conflict and Change:
    21. Anglo-Soviet literary relations in the long 1930s John Connor
    22. A declining empire in a rising power: British writers in America Greg Barnhisel
    23. Late modernism and the Spanish Civil War Patricia Rae
    24. Total war Marina MacKay
    25. Colonial intellectuals and the aesthetic Cold War Peter Kalliney
    26. Imperial fictions: writing the end of empire Laura Winkiel.

  • Editors

    Benjamin Kohlmann, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany
    Benjamin Kohlmann teaches English literature at the University of Freiburg. He is the author of Committed Styles: Modernism, Politics, and Left-Wing Literature in the 1930s (2014) and Speculative States: Literature and Reform in Britain, 1870–1920 (forthcoming). His articles have been published in PMLA, ELH, Novel, and other journals. He has co-edited several essay collections and special issues, including new work on literature and anti-communism (with Matthew Taunton), modernist utopianism, and the communist writer Edward Upward.

    Matthew Taunton, University of East Anglia
    Matthew Taunton is a Senior Lecturer in Literature at the University of East Anglia. He is the author of Red Britain: The Russian Revolution in Mid-Century Culture (forthcoming) and Fictions of the City: Class, Culture and Mass Housing in London and Paris (2009). He has also written various articles and book chapters on modern literature and politics, and on cities. With Benjamin Kohlmann, he co-edited a 2015 special issue of Literature & History on the subject of literary anti-Communism. He is deputy editor of Critical Quarterly.


    Benjamin Kohlmann, Matthew Taunton, Kristin Bluemel, Emma Zimmerman, Nick Hubble, Kristin Ewins, Glyn Salton-Cox, Andrew Thacker, Rachel Potter, Vike Martina Plock, Peter Marks, Ian Whittington, Laura Marcus, James Purdon, Rod Mengham, Louise Wiggins, Tyrus Miller, Leo Mellor, Suzanne Hobson, Janice Ho, Boris Jardine, John Connor, Greg Barnhisel, Patricia Rae, Marina MacKay, Peter Kalliney, Laura Winkiel

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