Dr Isobel Maddison publishes article in The Cambridge Quarterly

6 June 2013

The article looks at the definitions and descriptions of the middlebrow through various authors and works. An extract: "To be labelled ‘middlebrow’ is, at best, to be damned with faint and ill-defined praise. As Brown and Drover point out, for example, in 1932 Q. D. Leavis, in Fiction and the Reading Public, regarded middlebrow artistic production as the ‘faux-bon’ (p. 39). Graham Greene, in Journey Without Maps (1936), associated the middlebrow with the lower middle classes of which ‘strap-hanging typists’ (pp. 14–15), commuting from the new suburban wastelands of interwar Britain, were the archetype. The author of the satirical column ‘Charivaria’, published in Punch on 23 December 1925, argued that ‘The BBC claim to have discovered a new type, “the middlebrow”’, before going on to explain that this group consisted of ‘people who are hoping that some day they will get used to the stuff they ought to like’ – a sly swipe at the educational aspirations of the emergent middle classes. Virginia Woolf, in her essay ‘Middlebrow’ (1942), discussed a range of ‘brows’ in an argument similarly bristling with the rhetoric of class analysis circulating in the early twentieth century."

< Back to News