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Title: Reverse intergenerational influence between the World Wars : E.M. Forster, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf and their networks
Author: Larrarte, Bárbara Gallego
ISNI:       0000 0004 7971 649X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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Influence studies and life-writing research are overwhelmingly centred on the influence of the old upon the young, overlooking the potential impact younger generations can have on the development of contemporaries born decades before them. This thesis brings to the foreground this reverse influence by focusing on the intergenerational relationships forged within the intellectual, social, publishing, familial and friendship networks of E. M. Forster, T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf during the interwar years. This period of heightened social and political change amplified an awareness of generational identity, compelling those who established connections outside their age group to negotiate the implications of their different ages. Across three chapters, I show how these major twentieth-century writers were affected by their relationships with their younger peers. Forster's towering position as a key liberal spokesman from the 1930s until his death in 1970 was made possible in large part through a supportive young group of friends that formed a safe homosocial environment in which Forster's confidence could develop and where he was able to anchor his public rhetoric. Eliot's young mentees served as key reference-points for his sense of modernity in the 1930s, and as he began to articulate publicly his views on Christian power structures, their left-leaning and often communist political views were key counterpoints for his positioning as a Christian public intellectual and as a dramatist. The younger generation of male writers Woolf associated with the 1930s embodied a gendered challenge to her cultural status as a writer. Tracing her responses to them reveals how they stimulated and incited her exploration of gender and forms of action, her thinking on didacticism and literature and her pacifist rhetoric in the build up to the Second World War. My work on Forster, Eliot and Woolf illustrates how intergenerational relationships are a productive focus for academic inquiry, particularly in considering the experience of aging on a writer's evolution and the impact of generational shifts on intellectual history. This thesis contributes to theories of influence by restoring the significance of affect in intellectual development and by questioning the generational hierarchies underlying our understanding of influence exchange. Moreover, in underscoring the cross-generational dialogue at work in the period between the world wars, this project enriches our knowledge of the cultural topography of the 1930s.
Supervisor: McLoughlin, Kate Sponsor: Rothermere American Institute ; Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available