Dr Isobel Maddison publishes in the Cambridge Companion to British Literature of 1930s

26 November 2019

On 30th of November, Lucy Cavendish Fellow and English Director of studies Dr Isobel Maddison will publish a chapter titled ‘The Popular and the Middlebrow’ in the Cambridge Companion to British Literature of 1930s.

The 1930s is frequently seen as a unique moment in British literary history, a decade where writing was shaped by an intense series of political events, aesthetic debates, and emerging literary networks. Yet what is contained under the rubric of 1930s writing has been the subject of competing claims, and therefore this book offers the reader an incisive survey covering the decade's literature and its status in critical debates. Across the chapters, sustained attention is given to writers of growing scholarly interest, to pivotal authors of the period, such as Auden, Orwell, and Woolf, to the development of key literary forms and themes, and to the relationship between this literature and the decade's pressing social and political contexts. Through this, the reader will gain new insight into 1930s literary history, and an understanding of many of the critical debates that have marked the study of this unique literary era.

Isobel Maddison works primarily on female modernism and on the connections between modernism and popular fiction. She also has interests in women’s writings of the First World War. Isobel has published on Dorothy Richardson and Katherine Mansfield and is the author of several articles on Elizabeth von Arnim’s work. Her monograph, ‘Elizabeth von Arnim: Beyond the German Garden’, was published in 2013 and is the first full book-length treatment of von Arnim’s fiction.

Isobel is a founding member of the Elizabeth von Arnim Society and the society’s first president and gave a paper in July at the conference ‘Elizabeth von Arnim: Identities’, at the University of Toulon, on ‘Transitions: The Enchanted April novel to film’. Von Arnim’s 1922 novel is part of this oeuvre and portrays escape to a carefully described pastoral enclave away from encroaching urbanisation and the spread of new technologies, in an era when the Great War had left many emotionally and physically starved. The novel presents the restorative properties of pastoral nostalgia and the probability of dream and, in this sense, The Enchanted April is textual reparation for lingering First World War trauma, illuminating a contextual relevance difficult to forget when the novel first appeared in 1922. Isobel’s paper takes these ideas and discusses the transposition of the novel into the award-winning film of 1991, directed by Mike Newell.

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