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Title: Towards a cultural democracy : Chartist literature 1837-1860.
Author: Randall, Timothy Simon.
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1994
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This thesis assesses the poetry and fiction written by participants of the Chartist political movement between 1837 and 1860. The poetry was often crude, unsophisticated and occasionally derivative, but it effectively employed irony, parody, and various metaphoric tropes, to state the justness of the Chartist cause, or to express revolutionary defiance. Often sung or recited, the earlier poetry especially, was closely integrated into Chartist agitation. The longer narrative verse demonstrated the cultural potential of the politically disfranchised working class. Prison poetry asserted the imprisoned Chartist's intellectual freedom from oppression. The militant rhetoric of later Chartist poetry masked a sense of increasing desperation as the movement declined. Short, often historical, fiction was written to analyse political movements and events, although it was not until the late 1840s that Chartist novels were written. A couple of these analysed the movement itself; its past mistakes and future possibilities. Most Chartist novels however withdrew from direct political advocacy; relying instead upon the novelist's power to determine fictional events, and the individual reader's wish to imagine a more just life, they resolved political and social problems solely within their artificial, fictional world. The evolutionary shift which Chartist literature underwent can be characterised as the transition from the Chartist song, celebrating a Chartist leader, sung at a demonstration by a hundred thousand people; to the Chartist novel, attacking the aristocracy, published in a magazine sold to a hundred thousand people. Similar imagery and motifs recurred across time and in different genres, although often serving different functions. This thesis concludes that Chartist literature was a vital component of Chartist culture; that it possessed literary merit and historical significance; and furthermore, that there were strong connections between the decline of this mass political movement from the early 1840s, and the emergence of a mass commercial fiction during the 1840s &
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature Literature Mass media Performing arts Political science Public administration