'Activist Texts: Literature and Politics, 1910-1938' pursues two twinned aims. Firstly, to explore and contrast the diverse ways British novelists, poets, playwrights and polemicists engaged with significant socio-political events of the first half of the twentieth century. Starting with the suffrage campaign and finishing with the Spanish Civil War, we will read across genres, complicating distinctions of 'high' and 'low', examining how writers, both modernist and middlebrow, wrote these events into their texts. Secondly, the course introduces students to the protocols of archival research and the rewards of working with primary materials, including letters and diaries, newspapers and periodicals, minutes and organisational records. We will make field trips to the rich modern holdings of three London archives: The Women's Library at the LSE, The Trades Union Congress Library and The Imperial War Museum Archive. Throughout the course we will return to the question of what makes an activist text. This will involve sustained thinking about questions of form, accessibility and popularity and a good deal of close reading. By bringing a motley crew of core texts into dialogue with archival material, we will discover these works do not simply reflect their political moment, but weigh into and crucially shape contemporary debates.
3 x archive reports totalling no more than 1500 words and a 2500-word essay