Domesticity and Dystopia: Post-World War II British Literature

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA), Baltimore, MD
contact email: 

While literary responses to the Great War remain central to scholarship on 20th century British literature, British authors writing in the immediate aftermath of WWII have garnered far less critical attention.  Poised as they were between their modernist predecessors’ “radical break,” and their post-colonial successors’ challenges to cultural orthodoxies, most post-WWII authors have come to be regarded as comparatively minor, singular, or idiosyncratic.  For many critics, the diminution of Empire and the rise of the social welfare state produced not “giants,” but artists in disgruntled retreat from the modern world.  Even the socially conscious “Angry Young Men,” perhaps the era’s most celebrated authors, are, in the words of Terry Eagleton, “individualistic, self-centered, and opportunistic.”   Yet the decade and half between VJ Day (1945) and the lifting of the ban on an unexpurgated Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1960), saw a renewal of interest in the traditions of the 19th century novel, an increasing openness to fiction by and about women, and a greater willingness to experiment in modes (parable, satire, polemic) and genre (myth, fantasy, realism).  Papers may examine British literature by writers and critics active in this period, retrospective depictions of the era by authors such as Muriel Spark and Penelope Fitzgerald, and the reasons for the relative scholarly neglect of the period. 

Please submit abstracts through the NeMLA portal: