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Literary Criticism and the New Left (1956-62)

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Duncan Needham.

The first British New Left (1956-62) was a significant intellectual and cultural movement, which attempted to create a political space between Soviet Communism and western capitalism. The group’s attitude towards literature and criticism has, as yet, been under-represented. Although the movement is often seen as instrumental in the development of Cultural Studies as a discipline, its attitude towards literature as a repository of positive values was an essential part of its intellectual formation. In reviews, polemics, and discussions about contemporary literature such as Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago, the ‘Angry Young Men’ group of writers, such as Kingsley Amis, John Osborne, and John Wain, or the ‘New Wave’ dramatists, such as John Arden, Shelagh Delaghney, and Arnold Wesker, the New Left put forwards an influential and highly original approach to literature which was as significant, if not more so, than the groups other interests in politics, economics, and popular culture.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group series.

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