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Title: The Whitechapel Renaissance and its legacies : Rosenberg to Rodker
Author: Grafen, Alexander
ISNI:       0000 0004 9359 0803
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis studies the writing and painting of several members of a generation that grew up in the Jewish East End in the early twentieth century, mostly the children of immigrants from the Russian Empire. Previous work on the subjects of this thesis has tended towards one of two approaches. Either it has taken them as peripheral members of various groupings: for example, the war poets or the Bloomsbury Group. Alternatively, and with increasing frequency, they have been tied together as the ‘Whitechapel Boys’, a grouping with merit, but which implies a greater degree of organisation and coherency of aim than the evidence supports. The thesis contains chapters on Stephen Winsten, Mark Gertler, John Rodker and Isaac Rosenberg. It attempts to assess the descriptive and explanatory power of the ‘Whitechapel Boys’ as a label, while remaining attentive to the agendas and strategies of the figures taken separately. More broadly, it looks at the significance of the Jewish East End in early twentieth-century cultural production. On the one hand, my thesis considers this question in the terms of how these writers and artists were shaped by the Jewish East End: through its philanthropic and educational institutions; the opportunities it presented and the strictures it imposed; its political and linguistic commixture. On the other, it looks at how popular, frequently antisemitic conceptions of the Jewish East End conditioned the interactions of the Whitechapel Boys with different coteries, critics and little magazines in London. It asks how those conceptions changed, especially during the First World War, and how they were adapted to theories of literary and artistic renewal. What is under study then is not so much a countable number of Whitechapel Boys, but a Whitechapel Renaissance, understood as a collection of sociological conditions, contemporary conceptions and subsequent nostalgia.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available