The political imagination : writing the 1980's
The connection between imaginative writing and the political has always been contentious, and whilst many critics see literature as the creation of contemporary mythologies by which we negotiate our lived experience there are others who refute such a politicisation in favour of the singular aesthetic experience. This thesis will argue that the literary and the political are immutably bound in an undeniable relationship: a relationship which encompasses the construction of sexual, cultural and racial identities, questions of censorship and the concept of freedom and the mutual dependence of the individual subject and society. Like most epochs, the 1980s both invites and repels a tendency to organise its events into a single, understandable and easily internalised diachronic order, an order that will mask or efface the complex contradictions and multiplicity of possibilities that emerge. Through a series of close readings of arbitrarily selected literary and popular fictions, the thesis conducts an examination of the tensions, issues, conflicts and theoretical perspectives of this divisive decade. This project, however, is not just an attempt to chronicle a vast and fertile period of literature. It seeks to define the political imagination, to counteract the Bloomian claims that literature is a private space of imaginative production and passive aesthetic reflection, insisting that the political imagination is an inexorable part of social and cultural life which can neither be denied nor appropriated by a singular agenda or master code.