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Women’s voluntarism, Conservative politics and representations of womanhood
Clarisse Berthezène

6 The middlebrow and the making of a ‘new common sense’: women’s voluntarism, Conservative politics and representations of womanhood Clarisse Berthezène The historiography on interwar Conservatism has stressed the success of the Conservative Party’s mobilisation of women and the stability of the female vote in this period. Historians have shown how the interwar Conservative Party developed specific tactics of targeted electioneering, and how very much alive it was to the plurality of the new ­electorate – ­especially ­women – ­with shifting appeals and

in Rethinking right-wing women

This collection of essays seeks to question the security of our assumptions about the fin de siècle by exploring the fiction of Richard Marsh, an important but neglected professional author. Richard Bernard Heldmann (1857–1915) began his literary career as a writer of boys’ fiction, but, following a prison sentence for fraud, reinvented himself as ‘Richard Marsh’ in 1888. Marsh was a prolific and popular author of middlebrow genre fiction including Gothic, crime, humour, romance and adventure, whose bestselling Gothic novel The Beetle: A Mystery (1897) outsold Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Building on a burgeoning interest in Marsh’s writing, this collection of essays examines a broad array of Marsh’s genre fictions through the lens of cutting-edge critical theory, including print culture, New Historicism, disability studies, genre theory, New Economic Criticism, gender theory, postcolonial studies, thing theory, psychoanalysis, object relations theory and art history, producing innovative readings not only of Marsh but of the fin-de-siècle period. Marsh emerges here as a versatile contributor to the literary and journalistic culture of his time whose stories of shape-shifting monsters, daring but morally dubious heroes, lip-reading female detectives and objects that come to life helped to shape the genres of fiction with which we are familiar today. Marsh’s fictions reflect contemporary themes and anxieties while often offering unexpected, subversive and even counter-hegemonic takes on dominant narratives of gender, criminality, race and class, unsettling our perceptions of the fin de siècle.

John Baxendale

3047 Priestleys England 5/4/07 12:31 Page 5 1 ‘A serious writer with a message’ Others are proud of reading J. B. Priestley and writers such as him, because they are ‘serious writers with a message’. Others have learned that Mr Priestley is a ‘middlebrow’, and only mention him in terms of deprecation. They tend to read bitterly ironic or anguished literature – Waugh, Huxley, Kafka and Greene.1 Thus Richard Hoggart in The Uses of Literacy (1957) describes the predicament of a serious working-class reader, seeking the pathway to ‘the cultured life’, and

in Priestley’s England
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Ben Nichols

3 Normative Should it be especially noteworthy for queer theory that what has been credited with a major role in inventing certain forms of lesbian identity is a middle-brow novel? Historians and literary critics such as Jeffrey Weeks (1977: 101), Sonja Ruehl (1982), Alan Sinfield (1994: 3) and Laura Doan (2001: 1–30) have all argued that Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness (1928), and the furore that its obscenity trial caused, were central to making available a distinct modern English lesbian subjectivity.1 The geographical reach of this identity beyond

in Same old
Alan O’Leary

). History is also HIV, the ghastly virus present but unidentified, ready to spread its appalling blossom through the utopia of sex beyond book and summer’s end. Like this history, the cinema in The Swimming-Pool Library must be held at bay. Cinema is an excessive element that resists integration into the middlebrow poise of The Swimming-Pool Library and the cool surfaces of its realist prose. For Roland Barthes, the effect of reality is achieved in the novel by the ‘futile detail’, the element in the descriptive mise-en-scène that seems to carry no denotative or symbolic

in Alan Hollinghurst
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‘’Mid pleasures and palaces’
Hollie Price

. This book explores how the depiction of domestic life in British feature films of the period engaged with the same dynamics, as part of a structure of feeling which re-imagined modernity and exhibited an indigenous form of modernism. By uncovering archival evidence of representations of domestic life across a range of media and drawing on interdisciplinary research in middlebrow literature, domestic modernity and suburban culture, I examine how the treatment of domestic life in 1940s British films engaged with the interwar past, but in doing so also laid claim to a

in Picturing home
Tom Ryall

to Kill, from the parochialism of The Final Test to the amorphous internationalism of The Yellow Rolls-Royce. Such diversity makes it somewhat difficult to summarise his work in the manner of a conventional director study. His films are drawn from a variety of sources: original screenplays (Shooting Stars, We Dive at Dawn, The V.I.P.s), popular novels (Tell England, Fanny by Gaslight, The Net, Orders to Kill), and popular plays (Carrington VC, Libel), as well as the middlebrow cultural material (Shaw, Wilde, Rattigan) on which his familiar public image is based

in Anthony Asquith
Emma Liggins

heterosexual plot; Sinclair’s Mary Olivier and Mayor’s The Third Miss Symons both revise notions of the ‘emptiness’ of the spinster’s life in relation to the outsider status of the aunt and hetero­ normative assumptions about clever daughters. Lesser-known 1930s middlebrow novels by E.H. Young and Lettice Cooper stage a more self-conscious struggle to accommodate the spinster’s gender nonconformity to received notions of the family, often through the tentative imagining of alternative households. The tensions within Alison Light’s model of ‘conservative modernity’ can

in Odd women?
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Queer theory, literature and the politics of sameness

In its contributions to the study of material social differences, queer theoretical writing has mostly assumed that any ideas which embody 'difference' are valuable. More than this, where it is invoked in contemporary theory, queerness is often imagined as synonymous with difference itself. This book uncovers an alternative history in queer cultural representation. Through engagement with works from a range of queer literary genres from across the long twentieth century – fin-de-siècle aestheticism, feminist speculative fiction, lesbian middle-brow writing, and the tradition of the stud file – the book elucidates a number of formal and thematic attachments to ideas that have been denigrated in queer theory for their embodiment of sameness: uselessness, normativity, reproduction and reductionism. Exploring attachments to these ideas in queer culture is also the occasion for a broader theoretical intervention: Same Old suggests, counterintuitively, that the aversion they inspire may be of a piece with how homosexuality has been denigrated in the modern West as a misguided orientation towards sameness. Combining queer cultural and literary history, sensitive close readings and detailed genealogies of theoretical concepts, Same Old encourages a fundamental rethinking of some of the defining positions in queer thought.

Mapping the industrial working-class home
Hollie Price

this interwar culture of social investigation, their realist address can be identified as part of a middlebrow cultural construction of industrial working-class domesticity articulating progressive ideas of the modern home and society. Realism and romanticism The growth of suburbia in the interwar years offered working-class people the opportunity to achieve social distinction by owning their homes for the first time. Nicola Humble emphasises that the suburbs were an important site for this ‘significant national transformation’, which ‘changed the lives of

in Picturing home