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Withdrawn Module: Writing Lives: British Working Class Autobiography (HI917)

This module has now been permanently withdrawn and is no longer taught in the Warwick History Department.

Context of Module

This module may be taken by students on the MA in Culture, Class and Power, the MA in History, or any taught Master's student outside the History Department.

Module Aims
  • To consider working-class autobiography in post-Second World War Britain as both literary form and source of historical evidence
  • To introduce recent and advanced autobiographical theory to students of history and related disciplines
  • To come to some conclusions about autobiography as a literary form and as a social practice
  • To read a wide variety of autobiographical `texts' of the period
  • To redefine the genre `working-class autobiography' by inclusion of British post-colonial narratives
Intended Learning Outcomes

Following this module will allow graduate students of history and related disciplines to

  • view post-War writing as part of a long literary and historical tradition
  • investigate the recent `autobiographical turn' in the human and social sciences
  • investigate the new forms of self-narration that emerged in European welfare states after 1945
  • bring new sources of evidence and arguments to bear on historical debates about changing roles and relationships within the working-class family, the relationship between class politics and the Labour movement, and the restructuring of work and its changing meanings
  • read `autobiography' as a source of historical and literary evidence
Outline Syllabus

i) The Tradition of Working-class Autobiography

ii) The Literature of Labour

iii) Writing the Self: Autobiographical Theory

iv) The Epistolary Form: Letters and the Novel

v) The End of the Scholarship Girl

vi) State Sponsored Autobiography

vii) Settlers' Stories

Illustrative Bibliography
  • Roger Bromley, Lost Narratives (1988)
  • Pierre Bourdieu, La Misère du monde (1992)
  • Joanna Bourke, Working-class Cultures in Britain (1994)
  • Maureen Duffy, That's How It Was (1963)
  • Ronald Fraser (ed.) Work, 3 volumes (1968)
  • Peter Fryer, Staying Power. The History of Black People in Britain (1984)
  • May Hobbs, Born to Struggle (1973)
  • Andrea Levy, Every Light in the House Burnin' (1994)
  • Tom Wakefield, Forties Child (1980)
  • Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000)
Other Information

1 x 5,000 word essay.

The essay provides the opportunity, through independent preparation and writing, for students to choose and frame for themselves a topic worthy of analysis in the light of the advanced literature in the area; to construct their own bibliographies from books, articles and websites; to gather evidence and use it to shape a cogent and coherent extended analytical discussion; and where appropriate to deploy evidence from primary sources.