Literature and Politics

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University of Brighton, UK
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Literature and Politics:
A study day on the politics of teaching literature and
the teaching of political literature

University of Brighton
24 September 2010

Many of the debates which have shaped current literary theory and literature courses belong to the period of the 1960s and 1970s. Structuralism and post-structuralism, modernism and post-modernism, Empire and postcolonialism, women's writing and post-feminism are all concepts which have also shaped the contemporary curriculum. While many current academics in literature departments were trained in a context where the theoretical frame owed much to the work emerging out of the movements of the 1960s, our students have no such history. We are now teaching students for whom the fall of the Berlin wall, the miners' strike, Thatcherism, Reaganism and the women's movement are historical phenomena.

What relevance do the arguments that were once so fierce in literature and cultural studies have in the current climate for academics and students? As educational policy moves towards the teaching of skills sets and research is required to have social 'impact', what are the politics of teaching literature? And how should the curriculum deal with political texts?

This study day will approach these questions from a range of different perspectives; educationalists, policy makers, literature tutors and students are invited to offer papers which could include, but are not restricted to, the following questions:

• What is Literature in the twenty first century?
• How has Literature been used in the school curriculum?
• How can the teaching of Literature have a Green agenda?
• What was the impact of the Cold War for fiction?
• Teaching feminism to a post-feminist generation
• Is class still a valid concept in the teaching of literature?
• Teaching the politically incorrect
• Teaching Eastern European literature after the fall of communism
• Are identity politics relevant to the Facebook generation?
• Writing sustainability into the curriculum

Confirmed speakers include:

Professor Stuart Laing
Professor Gina Wisker
Dr Paddy Maguire

Please send proposals for individual papers to Deborah Philips ( and be sure to include a working title, abstract of 350 words, and a biographical note. Proposals are due by 23 April 2010.