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Title: Reportage in the 'thirties
Author: Williams, Keith
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1992
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This investigation of the origins and impact of the 'new reportage' in the '30s interrogates the 'dominant tradition' of documentary, i.e. an 'objective' recording of facts and historical events, by reconstructing an alternative 'broken' tradition of radical reporting which was both 'counterfactual' and criticised the status of documents (including photographs and film) as privileged forms of realistic representation. The implications of Russian Formalist 'defamiliarization' led to an avant-garde 'literature of fact' in the USSR and Weimar Germany, inspired by John Reed's Ten Days that Shook the World, with the potential not only to represent suppressed facts but to subvert 'automatized' concepts, thus challenging official paradigms defining historically significant data and putting the model of reality constructed by dominant ideology under strain, as the work of the LEF group and Egon Erwin Kisch shows. The new reportage was self- consciously mediating and 'bared its devices', often using montage to expose the construetedness of discourses. Hence the thesis maps the growth of a parallel alternative reportage in '30s Britain which did not simply resuscitate the realistic project of Naturalism but built on the Modernist legacy, examining in detail the work of Orwell, Sommerfield, Priestley, and Hanley among others. The thesis focuses on prose forms of reportage, from individual I-witnessing in articles and autobiographies, to 'participant observation', documentary novels, encyclopaedism, Mass-Observation and photojournalism, outlining the historical and cultural factors which gave reportage literary prominence at the time, as well as issues, such as unemployment, poverty and Appeasement, which it represented. Consequently, it explores the ways and means by which new reporters expressed their awareness of connections between political and cultural representation, in order to question authorized representations of fact and the sanctioned national self-image.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Reportage literature