Representations of Masculine Working-Class Identity in Post-War British Literature and Film.
From a point in history where the issue of class has been noticeably absent from the mainstream political agenda, and masculinity is said to be in crisis, this study employs a cultural materialist approach to engage with the representation of working-class masculinities in post-war British writing. The project focuses specifically on the period 1945-1996, thus beginning and ending on the eve of, arguably, the Labour Party’s two most significant election victories to date, and charting the developments of representation of working-class masculinities during that period. In doing so the project examines crucial cultural and historical moments and considers their impact upon the construction and representation of British working-class masculine identities. Thus acknowledging and actively engaging with the interconnectedness of masculinity and class, and addressing the need to bridge the gap between masculinity, as a burgeoning category of historical and cultural analysis, and field of literary study, and class, as a field of study marginalized by the proliferation of identity politics in the latter half of the Twentieth Century.
The project builds upon the work of Raymond Williams, reevaluating his concept of ‘structures of feeling’ (Williams and Orrom, 1954), reinstating it as a central bearing of the practice of cultural materialism, and utilizing it as an analytical tool for written texts which allows for an understanding of the lived experience of specific cultures in solution. Through this process the study interrogates the manner in which gender inflects representations of class, and class inflects representations of gender at key cultural and historical moments, and examines the significance of language, mode, and medium in the representation of working-class masculine identities throughout the period.
What is the significance of language, mode and medium in representing British working-class masculine identities in post-war British literature and film?
What is the impact of increased affluence, education, unemployment, deindustrialization, and transnationalism, upon representations of British working-class masculine identities in post-war British literature and film?
What is the nature and function of ‘absence’ as a defining feature of representations of British working-class masculinity in post-war British literature and film?
Can Raymond Williams’s concept of structures of feeling be presented as a lens through which to read representations of British working-class masculinity in post-war British literature and film?
Matthew is a London based writer, researcher, and teacher. He was born in Sheffield in 1980. He attended Myrtle Springs School and Central St. Martins College, University of the Arts London, before undertaking an MA in Modern & Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck College, University of London.
If You Get My Point… (FEAST journal, Winter 2015)
Gathering Wool (FOAM, Amsterdam, 2012)
‘Money and the Ghost of Class’
‘Screened Resistance: Television, Politics, and the Representation of Working-Class Masculinity in 1980s Britain’
‘Borderless Young Men?: The ‘Other’ and English Working-Class Identity in Post-Millennial Literature’
‘Amicable Young Men? or, The Absence of Change: The (Re)Construction of Masculine Identities in Monica Dicken’s The Happy Prisoner (1946) and J. B. Priestley’s Three Men in New Suits (1945)’
‘Masculine Identity, Consumption, and the Ghost of Class in David Storey’s This Sporting Life and Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’
‘Angry Young Men?, or a Product of Their Time?’
‘A Moment of Abstraction: Education, Place, and Class in the Work of Tony Harrison’.