Contemporary British Literary Culture, Higher Education, and the Diversity Scandal

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  • Sociologists have demonstrated that neoliberal British education policies reproduce cultural and racial homogeneity in creative industries workforces. These policies have made fine art and design programs key pathways to work in the creative economy. Yet escalating tuition and the reliance on unpaid internships to gain course credit have meant that students are increasingly drawn from the more affluent socio-economic communities - often predominantly white. The impact on contemporary British literature, particularly writing by minoritized authors, has been remarkable. Despite efforts to increase diversity in the literary book trades, the vast majority of publishing professionals are white, independently wealthy graduates of elite universities. Scholars have said little about how the literary field responds to, manifests, and perpetuates this escalating - and racialized - inequality, whose ramifications are evident in everything from Brexit to the emboldening of the anti-immigrant alt-right movement. My research takes up this task. I discuss how neoliberal education policy has privileged a relatively homogenous creative class, whose hegemony resonates across literary production and literature itself. I analyze responses to this class' control over the literary sphere in chapters studying the reading charity BookTrust, the decibel program's prizing of Hari Kunzru's 2005 novel Transmission, and Spread the Word's Complete Works Scheme for poets of colour.

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  • Copyright © 2019 the author(s). Theses may be used for non-commercial research, educational, or related academic purposes only. Such uses include personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Theses may only be shared by linking to Carleton University Institutional Repository and no part may be used without proper attribution to the author. No part may be used for commercial purposes directly or indirectly via a for-profit platform; no adaptation or derivative works are permitted without consent from the copyright owner.
Date Created
  • 2019


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