Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Politics and Literature in Britain from the Russian Revolution to the Cold War (HI2D7)


Tutor: Dr Stuart Middleton
Office: H016, ground floor of the Humanities Building
Term-Time Office Hours: Mondays 2-3pm, Thursdays 12-1pm and by appointment
Lecture Times: Mondays, 5pm, OC1.06
Seminar Times: Tuesdays, 1pm H0.05/4


Britain did not undergo a political revolution during the twentieth century, but its intellectual life was convulsed and transformed by radical political ideas in Europe and America between the Great War and the end of the 1950s. Among the leading agents of those transformations were literary intellectuals who saw the arts as a field in which revolutionary ideals could be realised, or resisted. In pursuing these objectives they extended, and curtailed, the traditions of enlightenment and romanticism in Britain; developed new modes of literary expression and analysis; and wrote some of the most celebrated and controversial works of twentieth-century literature.

This 30 CATS undergraduate second-year option module explores the relationship between politics and literature in Britain during the first half of the twentieth century, in the shifting global contexts of the Russian Revolution, Fascism, the Depression, the Popular Front, the Second World War and the Cold War. Themes will include the impact of the Great War and the Russian Revolution on art and literature; the position of the ‘intellectual’ in modern societies; and regimes of cultural production and exchange in twentieth-century Britain, particularly as they embodied inequalities of class and gender. It develops the knowledge and skills acquired through the first-year core module ‘Making of the Modern World’, and complements options on Russian and German history since the late nineteenth century, on radical politics in interwar Europe, and on American cultural history since 1929.