Working-class writing and Americanisation debates in Britain and Australia: 1950-1965

Herbertson, Ian Richard (2006) Working-class writing and Americanisation debates in Britain and Australia: 1950-1965. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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[From Introduction]: ‘Work’ is not a topic that much concerns contemporary novelists or fires the creative imagination. Today, writing about work is primarily done by investigative reporters like Elizabeth Wynhausen, whose Dirt Cheap: Life at the Wrong End of the Job Market (2005) is a striking – if rare – under-cover exposé of what ‘economic reform’ really means for menial Australian workers. There is certainly no literary equivalent now of the British and Australian novels, appearing in the 1950s and 1960s, preoccupied with the relationship between changing patterns of work and working-class experience: the lived transformations of traditional class and family ties; the impact of new consuming habits and popular cultural pursuits; the political situation of ordinary working people, and shifts in their attitudes and values. These British and Australian novels generally assumed that reorganisations of the working coal face or factory floor extended into the private sphere, informing or producing the stressful personal dramas played out in communities and at the kitchen sink.
This thesis argues that these novels were elements of a broader dialogue in the 50s and 60s: one in which work and working-class life were significant subjects, articulated in a range of complementary discourses that were interlocutory – economic and political analysis, sociology, nascent cultural theory, popular newspaper commentary and literature. Consequently, a main objective of this thesis is to reveal how these representational forms or disciplines converged in the period 1950–1965: to examine their common themes and interests, and their collective
responses to questions concerning working-class life. The thesis argues that all these forms or disciplines shared the view that the condition of the working classes, in both Britain and Australia, crucially mattered to the overall social architecture of the time. It also argues that they all regarded the presence of America, the era’s pre-eminent global force, as central to such questions; and that America was complexly understood as an idealised political concept, a power-house of popular cultural production, and a very real engine of socio-economic change.

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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - No Department
Supervisors: Musgrove, Brian
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2007 01:21
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2016 02:25
Uncontrolled Keywords: working class writing; working class; Britain; Australia; British; Australian; novels; Americanisation; 1950-1965; 1950s; 1960s
Fields of Research : 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200503 British and Irish Literature
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200502 Australian Literature (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Literature)

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