Culture Wars in British Literature

Multiculturalism and National Identity


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About the Book

The past century’s culture wars that Britain has been consumed by, but that few North Americans seem aware of, have resulted in revised notions of Britishness and British literature. Yet literary anthologies remain anchored to an archaic Anglo-English interpretation of British literature. Conflicts have been played out over specific national vs. British identity (some residents prefer to describe themselves as being from Scotland, England, Wales, or Northern Ireland instead of Britain), in debates over immigration, race, ethnicity, class, and gender, and in arguments over British literature. These debates are strikingly detailed in such chapters as: “The Difficulty Defining ‘Black British’,” “British Jewish Writers” and “Xenophobia and the Booker Prize.” Connections are also drawn between civil rights movements in the U.S. and UK. This generalist cultural study is a lively read and a fascinating glimpse into Britain’s changing identity as reflected in 20th and 21st century British literature.

About the Author(s)

Tracy J. Prince is a Scholar-in-Residence at Portland State University’s Portland Center for Public Humanities in Oregon. She has spent her career teaching and writing about race, gender, and social equity issues and has taught in or spent extensive research time in Turkey, Australia, England, Canada, and throughout the United States.

Bibliographic Details

Tracy J. Prince
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 232
Bibliographic Info: 18 photos, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6294-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9307-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Foreword by Thomas C. Caramagno 1
Preface 5
Introduction: Mind the Gap 11
One The Imploded Empire: Literary Reactions to Britain’s Changed Empire 23
Two The Difficulty Defining British Literature 54
Three The Difficulty Defining “Black British” 82
Four Two Nations: Class Issues in Contemporary British Literature 113
Five British Jewish Writers 128
Six Xenophobia and the Booker Prize 143
Seven Britain’s “New” Multicultural Identity 159
Appendix I: Man Booker Prize Winners 179
Appendix II: International Man Booker Prize Winners 189
Appendix III: Orange Prize Winners 190
Works Cited 195
Index 205

Book Reviews & Awards

“excellent…. It is precisely in its analysis of this ‘Anglo centeredness’ and its sensitive treatment of the many other voices that compromise modern British writing that this book’s strength lies…no hesitation in recommending Culture Wars in British Literature to anyone with an interest in the complexities of modern British culture”—AmeriCymru; “this book is near flawless…an incredible source of information…an exceptional job…highly recommend”—San Francisco / Sacramento Book Reviews; “considers questions of the changing nature of British identity over the course of the 20th century through an exploration of issues of culture and identity as they have played out in the world of British literature”—Reference & Research Book News; “Writing with great lucidity and welcome originality, Tracy J. Prince explores how an increasingly multicultural Britain defines itself, and is defined, through literature and a literary establishment still dominated by an Anglo-English elite.”—Tamar Heller, University of Cincinnati; “Tracy Prince’s book brings an impressive set of voices into dialogue on the complexity of community-building and national identity-analyzing important aspects of British culture which are not fully represented in anthologies or literary histories.”—R. Victoria Arana, Howard University.