Characters who struggle with historical change

Many of the texts we have read and discussed this semester represent characters who struggle with historical change, and in some cases who would prefer staying with traditional ways, or who are even nostalgic for earlier periods (including Imperialism) in British history. In some cases, such characters become immobilized as a result of their aversion to change. Choose two texts (or documentary film) as your anchors and write a discussion essay in which you examine specifics of this problem as represented in two texts.

Characters who struggle with historical change

Please submit your work under the “Assignment” tab. Please discuss and formulate an “essay-answer” to the following questions. Your answers can be short. Aim for a single-spaced paragraph in length.

Texts studied include:

Michael Apted’s, Seven Up (1964) * (as well as another installment of your choice)
John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger (1956)
John Le Carre, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1962)
Jeanette Winterson, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit (1985)
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (1989)
W.G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn (1995)
Zadie Smith, NW (2013)
Our secondary sources have included Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Twentieth Century British History: A Very Short Introduction.

You can draw on any resources that we have used in class, such as interviews with authors or historical documentaries.

Make sure that you discuss all the texts we have studied at least once in your answers.

1. Many of the texts we have read and discussed this semester represent characters who struggle with historical change, and in some cases who would prefer staying with traditional ways, or who are even nostalgic for earlier periods (including Imperialism) in British history. In some cases, such characters become immobilized as a result of their aversion to change. Choose two texts (or documentary film) as your anchors and write a discussion essay in which you examine specifics of this problem as represented in two texts.

2. Several novels we have read this term are considered postmodern. Beginning with a discussion of the features of postmodernism using your Penguin dictionary of literary terms and drawing on class discussion, discuss three texts that feature an approach, or a technique that can be considered postmodern. (Some features of postmodernism can include non-linear narratives that defy the notion of plot, unreliable and self-referential narration, metafiction, generic hybridity, the use of parody, the use of pastiche, and a playful approach to literary style).

3. The post-war period saw more class mobility in the UK than any other period in history.

Choose a text, to examine the representation of class issues (class anxiety, upward or downward class mobility, aspirations, class strife, and representations of work). How does the experience of being “classed” affect characters? What becomes of their relationship to “home,” as well as to their identity, and how do they imagine the future?

4. Setting has been an important feature of the texts we’ve studied this term. This is a chance for you to play with mapping a portion of a text of your choice. Using Google Maps, create a map of locations that are mentioned in any one of the texts we have read together this semester. Name and save this map. Provide a link to the map so that I can take a look at it. Plot the places on the Google Map and describe what you notice about the text from the setting and the map. Does this map give you insight into the text?

If you’d like more context for the theory that informs literary mapping, see Barbara Hui’s work:
http://barbarahui.net/about-litmap.html

And here’s an example of a mapping project:
https://londonist.com/london/books-and-poetry/mapped-all-virginia-woolf-s-novels

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