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Cosmopolitanism and contemporary black British writing

Saroukhani, Henghameh (2014) Cosmopolitanism and contemporary black British writing. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis critically explores the conjunction of cosmopolitanism and contemporary black British writing, a hitherto little acknowledged field of investigation. I argue that a problematic lacuna exists within black British literary scholarship, which renders theoretical and textual engagements with cosmopolitanism as incommensurable with the “authentically” located political and discursive formation of black Britain. This thesis proposes that an examination of cosmopolitanism within the study of black British writing remains both vital and crucially generative for the field. I formulate cosmopolitanism as a critical praxis and expression of a certain aesthetic modality that captures the provocative ways in which twenty-first-century black British authors have uncovered translocal, outer-national and cross-cultural histories of alliance in their work. The writers examined in this thesis – whose work ranges across established and innovative cultural forms – resource the past as a means to compose their particular literary enunciations of cosmopolitanism. Each writer imagines a specific “sign of history” (in Jean-François Lyotard’s usage) that reconstitutes the recent past in the service of excavating distinctive cosmopolitan histories, affinities and opportunities. The chapters in this thesis, which are organized around three pivotal historical signs (1948; 1981/1982; 1989), closely examine the work of James Berry, Andrea Levy, Alex Wheatle, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Zadie Smith, Mike Phillips and Bernardine Evaristo. By delineating how these writers envision historically inspired worldly imaginaries (whether in pejorative or salutary ways), I offer a critical revaluation of black British writing, one that enables new interpretative avenues from which to appraise and critique the field’s burgeoning cosmopolitanism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of English (Leeds)
Depositing User: Leeds CMS
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2015 12:36
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2015 12:36
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8404

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