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Title: Isle of Dogs : Brexit, its causes and conditions : a creative and critical thesis
Author: Beecroft, Julian Colin
ISNI:       0000 0004 8504 6664
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2020
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The vote by the UK electorate to leave the European Union was the biggest shock in British politics in living memory. Among its greatest effects have been not only the rejection of the existing political and economic order, and the seismic shift it will mean in our future relationship with Europe, but the need it has forced upon us to rethink the past - both recent and more distant - to make sense of the vote. That so many millions of people in the UK, and especially in England, could so decisively have rejected an apparently settled relationship with our closest geographical neighbours meant asking what were the factors that persuaded them to do so. Isle of Dogs begins by accepting the now well-established view that those factors had grown in significance over decades but were not taken seriously by a political and cultural establishment comfortable with an increasingly globalised economic order which had undermined the politics and cultures of sovereign nation states, a strategy in which the EU was seen as complicit. But among the English a widely acknowledged democratic deficit in the EU was exacerbated by the political status of England within the UK, in particular since the other home nations took back significant control of their political and cultural destiny following the handing of powers to devolved administrations two decades ago. Adopting a dual, creative and critical approach, this thesis explores the lived experience of people residing in the kinds of English communities that voted by often large majorities to leave. The creative component, The Season of the Boar, is a novella set in a small Kent village during the referendum campaign, in which a series of attacks on local dogs are wrongly blamed on the local resident population of wild boar. Its main story of a hunt by a group of men to kill a creature seen as a migrant animal, but which was once a symbol of Old England, is framed in the context of shaping events from the past four decades, the neoliberal era - the Miners' Strike, Big Bang, Black Monday, the Iraq War and the Great Recession - as these have affected the lives of individual characters. The critical component, The Everlasting Animal, examines the same lived experience through critical analysis of key works of contemporary English literature (multiple novels and one play) written since the dawn of British Euroscepticism after the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, as well as several more from different eras of the twentieth century, alongside numerous critical sources from a wide range of disciplines. The first of its two chapters considers the future of the nation state in the light of the Brexit vote, while the second looks at the suppressed cultural and political identity of England, revealing strains of exceptionalism and aggrievement with both deep-lying historical precedents and contemporary causes, whose effects manifest in British politics at both national and local levels. As my study has found, in addition to a growing body of fiction, there have been countless non-fiction responses to the epochal problem of Brexit. But this thesis is likely to be the first to come at it from both creative and critical angles, with one discipline informing the response of the other, a symbiotic process of invention and analysis embedding each component in the lives of the people affected, offering an intimate awareness of a traumatic national event, the most vexing issue in UK politics in more than half a century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR0471 20th century ; PR0481 21st century ; PR0830.N3557 National characteristics