British Social Realism in the Arts since 1940

British Social Realism in the Arts since 1940

David Tucker

Language: English

Pages: 235


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Social realism has been a vital element of British culture over the past seventy years, yet it has not gained anywhere near the critical attention its impact warrants. It can be a highly responsive genre, one that confronts its contemporaneous social, economic and political contexts with visceral immediacy, while at the same time retaining a focus on the individual, the domestic and the private. This fascinating analysis of the intertwined histories and legacies of British social realism across disciplines reveals
how important the changing genre has been for creative works since the Second World War, and how it resonates within contemporary contexts. With original contributions from leading scholars, this collection provides chapters on film, theatre, fiction, visual art, poetry and television, that show how social realism speaks to our own times as well as of the past.

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pre-historical repetition of catastrophe.12 Eagleton, whose thoughts on history have been heavily influenced by Benjamin, is also interested in the transhistorical, and in recent texts this interest has taken the form of a discussion of human essence.13 As James Smith argues, such an interest is part of Eagleton’s critique of left-historicism and its giddy celebration of human and social mutability along with its abandonment of Marxist historical metanarratives. As Smith observes, Eagleton’s

which links us fundamentally with our historical ancestors, as well as with our fellow human beings from other cultures’ (Eagleton 2000, p. 111). Thus, in the factory gate films we see the diminutive bodies of working children, their heads and shoulders wrapped in shawls, their feet shod in clogs. Cold, malnourished, tired, prematurely aged. And something perhaps just as hard to bear – we witness child and adult often excited and enlivened by the promise of novelty, displaying in their curiosity

to stave off the inevitable take place against the background of a search for a missing teenage girl (to whom Byron has given shelter) and the gradual desertion of the friends and hangers-on that congregate around him. The action of Jerusalem is played out in a displaced domestic setting, where the familiar signifiers of a living room – chairs, a television - are scattered, ironically reduced largely to debris, outside the caravan. The young people who wander through the action constitute a kind

having been determined by concerns of a global, as well as of a local nature. He wrote in a later reappraisal of Mass-Observation entitled Britain Revisited about his anthropological expedition to Malekula in the New Hebrides and how this had influenced his choice of and research in Bolton. It had struck Harrisson that a very specific and important ‘trail led from the Western Pacific to the south of Lancashire’ (Harrisson 1961, p. 26): What was there of Western civilisation which impacted into

because the first two lines seem to establish, or to hint at least, that things will not change, but then there is a change in grammar. When the word ‘this’ first appears in line 1, we may feel some uncertainty as to whether it is a pronoun or an adverb, since it cannot yet be clear from the first line whether ‘particular’ will turn out to be an adjective or a noun: ‘only this particular’. In the turn down into the second line this ambiguity is resolved, quickly and slowly: ‘this’ is an adverb,

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