Twentieth-Century Writing and the British Working Class

John Kirk

Twentieth-Century Writing and the British Working Class

John Kirk

Distributed for University of Wales Press

224 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2003
Cloth $40.00 ISBN: 9780708318133 Published September 2003 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only

Although many writers have insisted on the death of class, and in particular the demise of the working class, Twentieth-Century Writing and the British Working Class draws extensively on the theoretical insights of Raymond Williams and the British cultural studies tradition to challenge suggestions that class is no longer relevant for literary analysis. It examines how the lives and experiences of working-class people have changed over the past century, and how these changes have been depicted and explored in a range of fictional and non-fictional texts.

John Kirk discusses representations of the British working class in a range of writing, from Alan Bleasdale and James Kelman, to Pat Barker and Jeanette Winterson. He also offers a comparative study of two other key periods when the question of class loomed large: the 1930s and the post-war ‘age of affluence’, as well as looking at how working-class experiences and identities are filtered through ideas of race, national belonging and gender.

Twentieth-Century Writing and the British Working Class aims to re-explore and re-engage with sites of working-class experience that have been neglected over recent years. It contests many of the assumptions of contemporary cultural theory and will be essential reading for anyone interested in current debates about identity and class.


1. 'Unbending the springs of action': from poverty to affluence in the narrating of class
2. Class, community and 'structures of feeling': a 'sense of loss' revisited in some working-class writings from the 1980s
3. Figuring the dispossessed: the negative topographies of class
4. Recovered perspectives: women and working-class writing
5. Mapping difference and identity: race, class and the politics of belonging

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