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Title: A dangerous age : adolescent agencies in inter-war British literature
Author: Johnson, Kathryn
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2010
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Abstract:
This thesis explores the creative synergy between an era of cultural flux and seismic social upheaval, and a life stage conceived of as fraught, transitional and poised between progress and regress. It contends that adolescence functioned as an organising trope and a dominant paradigm of modern subjectivity in diverse British novels of the period 1918-1939. I develop a wide-ranging thematic analysis which draws established luminaries of the inter-war literary canon into dialogue with neglected mavericks and ‘middlebrow’ authors including Rosamond Lehmann, Patrick Hamilton, E.H. Young, Stevie Smith and Walter Greenwood. The theorisation of adolescence by anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists and cultural critics including G.Stanley Hall, Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Wyndham Lewis is canvassed in detail in Chapter I and provides a vital and enriching context for the close textual analyses which follow. Chapters III and V draw on original archival material to trace the evolution of distinctive adolescent agencies and visions of maturity in the striking inter-war novels of Elizabeth Bowen and Graham Greene. Julia Kristeva’s reflections on the ‘adolescent novel’ and the mechanics of abjection offer salient points of illumination and debate in each chapter. These case-studies are elaborated and contextualised by close scrutiny of the gender differentials shaping literary constructions of adolescence in this era. Chapter IV takes inspiration from the parallel drawn by social psychologist Kurt Lewin between the adolescent and the socially disempowered or oppressed ‘marginal man’. In the light of theories of masochism, it calibrates the interrogative force of novels which accentuate the failures and sufferings of male adolescent protagonists. Chapter II gauges the radical aspirations towards female self-fulfilment and definition embedded in narratives of generational conflict and alliance between women and positions the post-war ‘modern girl’ as an enabling yet also peculiarly problematic avatar of female emancipation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.726662  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN0080 Criticism ; HQ The family. Marriage. Woman ; PR English literature
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