English Imaginaries: Six Studies in Anglo-British Modernity

English Imaginaries: Six Studies in Anglo-British Modernity

English Imaginaries: Six Studies in Anglo-British Modernity

English Imaginaries: Six Studies in Anglo-British Modernity

Synopsis

What does it mean to be English in the modern world?The answer doesn't usually include Nancy Cunard's assault on Anglo-British whiteness; J. B. Priestley's democratic populism; Who guitarist Pete Townshend's modernist rebellion; Vivienne Westwood's anti-fashion; David Dabydeen's blackening of the literary and visual canon; or Mark Wallinger's detournement of English oil painting. Kevin Davey, drawing on the work of Gramsci and Julia Kristeva, argues that any analysis of Englishness should aknowledge these figures, and goes on to pose searching questions about New Labour's vision of the nation.'With this book the debate about Englishness grows up. In his profound and engaging meditation Kevin Davey puts to shame most of the recent spate of essays on this fashionable theme.'Anthony Barnett 'Kevin Davey's remarkable blend of history, criticism and politics, ranging across literature, music, art, fashion, biography and cultural theory, is one of the most stimulating contributions to that new questioning. It is certainly among the most original. It deserves to be, and surely will be, one of the most influential.'Stephen Howe'
An original and incisive analysis of the peculiarities of the English, offering a variety of new perspectives on both the pasts and possible futures of Anglo-Britishness.' ~David Morley

Excerpt

The publisher and socialite Nancy Cunard defends her black lover from High Society racism in the early 1930s; novelist and playwright J. B. Priestley helps to break the electoral truce during the Second World War; rock guitarist Pete Townshend of the Who smashes his guitar in the mid-1960s. Twenty years later the fashion designer Vivienne Westwood masquerades as the prime minister; poet David Dabydeen transcribes a painting by Turner; the artist Mark Wallinger puts a racehorse into training and calls it A Real Work of Art.

On the surface, a disparate set of events spread throughout the century. What they have in common is that they were each stages in an unfolding transformation of the English imaginary, essential steps towards the modernisation of Britain. These actions all helped to establish new nodal points in the discourses on our national identity, challenging the dominant racialised representations of Englishness and creating new spaces in which new identifications could be made. All still have much to tell us about who we are becoming.

This book draws on the work of the french psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva, and the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, to analyse a range of reflexive and future-oriented explorations of Anglo-British whiteness. Each of the six individuals studied sought to articulate the English imaginary with a new multiracial and democratic modernity. English Imaginaries contains stories forgotten or unfamiliar that I feel are relevant to today’s anxieties and should therefore be retold. It is not a book that attempts to identify new roots for British or English radicalism. Rather it looks at a number of exploratory routes that have gone beyond the dominant Anglo-British identifications of their time - as well as at some of the costs incurred by embarking upon them – and the progress they have made towards a modern English Imaginary.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.