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The tramp in British interwar literature

Davies, LVL; (2016) The tramp in British interwar literature. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

My thesis explores representations of the tramp in British literature during the interwar period. I argue that the figure of the tramp evolved out of the vagabond in response to industrialism, and propose the idea that the tramp symbolically denotes resistance to the goal driven logic of capitalism, as well as normative values that provide a supportive framework for growth within disciplinarian society. I propose that any attempt to speak negatively of tramps in a way that goes beyond a concern with their suffering betrays the underlying ideological agenda. Against this, I suggest that positive descriptions of the tramp might serve as a form of political protest against the productivist paradigm. My thesis then focusses on the interwar period in Britain; a time when unemployment soared, levels of homelessness rose, and the figure of the tramp gained prominence. I ask whether these texts denigrate or celebrate the tramp, and attempt to demonstrate how this ties into the individual contexts within which they were written. To do this, I centre on three manifestations of tramp writing during the interwar period: social exploration writing, the tramp memoir, and tramp fiction. In Chapter One I trace the origins of social exploration before introducing six interwar authors who disguised themselves as tramps in order to infiltrate and write about the tramp community. In Chapter Two I trace the history of tramp life-writing. I then introduce ten interwar memoirists – all of whom, though with a variety of backgrounds, self-identified as tramps. In Chapter Three I focus on six interwar novelists who feature the tramp in their work. In each chapter I provide biographical information for the various authors and consider critical responses to their work.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The tramp in British interwar literature
Event: University College london
Language: English
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1473969
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