The module introduces students to writing in the 1930s that specifically addressed itself to political questions. The 1930s was a decade in which many English writers expressed dissatisfaction with Modernism¿s apparent neglect of social issues. These writers sought to engage with what they saw as the most pressing concerns of the day, and they generally did this by turning away from Modernist experimentalism and embracing more accessible styles of writing. Nonetheless, the pressure of events on the writing of this period is discernible in its uneasy truce with `realism¿, which is frequently seen as unable to represent a social reality that for many writers, faced with the rise of fascism and the threat of war, seemed to be becoming ever more fantastic. This module looks at some of the key issues that concerned writers in the 1930s: unemployment, fascism and communism, the Spanish Civil War, consumerism, mass society, minority culture and the rise of Scrutiny, and literary commitment.
The module concentrates on poetry, fiction, and critical writing from the period. Authors to be studied include some of the following: W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Bowen, Cecil Day-Lewis, William Empson, Graham Greene, Patrick Hamilton, Christopher Isherwood, Storm Jameson, F. R. Leavis, Q. D. Leavis, Wyndham Lewis, Charles Madge, Louis MacNeice, George Orwell, Edgell Rickword, Jean Rhys, Stephen Spender, Evelyn Waugh, and Virginia Woolf. Students will be encouraged to read widely and to work independently on the authors that most interest them. Some core texts will definitely be studied in class.