Date of Graduation

5-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

English

Advisor

Sidney Burris

Committee Member

Lisa Hinrichsen

Second Committee Member

David Jolliffe

Abstract

After Orwell: Totalitarian Fears and the English Political Novel, 1950-2010 gives a coherent account of the English political novel after World War II, a critical narrative absent from current scholarship. I contend that George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), a touchstone for political fiction, is underwritten by Orwell's conflicted attitude toward politics: despite embracing politics as the necessary means to genuinely improve people's lives, he also remained suspicious of politics' apparently inherent potential to diminish or even eliminate autonomy. Orwell's simultaneous attraction and vigorous resistance to politics, I argue, is tied to broader contemporaneous anxieties over political and cultural totalization. Such fears reverberate throughout postwar English political fiction. To substantiate this claim, my project reads an assortment of political novels against the political convulsions and reorientations following the Second World War. Orwellian apprehensions over totalizing systems and theories serve as a common thread for otherwise wide-ranging novelistic engagements with politics in the postmodern, multicultural, and globalized contexts of postwar England.

Share

COinS