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Dominant, Dormant and Emergent Tendencies in the Twentieth Century Working-Class Novel Open Access


Other title
Marxism and World Literature
twentieth century novel
proletarian novel
postcolonial novel
working-class literature
Indian novel
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Bandopadhyay, Sabujkoli
Supervisor and department
Kelly, Gary (English and Film Studies, Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Punjabi, Kavita (Comparative Literature, Women's Studies, Jadavpur University)
Demers, Patricia (English and Film Studies)
Sywenky, Irene (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Cisneros, Odile (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Fried, Daniel (East Asian Studies, Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Varsava, Jerry (English and Film Studies, Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies
Comparative Literature
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
My doctoral dissertation entitled Dominant, Dormant, and Emergent Tendencies in the Twentieth Century Working-Class Novel studies twentieth century working-class novels as a transnational and trans-historic category. I analyze and explore the Marxian revolutionary subject from a subaltern point of view and show that the global political economy constantly reshapes and reconstitutes the working-class. My research traces how the genre has evolved throughout the twentieth century; the dissertation demonstrates how questions of gender, race, ethnicity, (dis)ability, ecojustice and post-colonialism are associated with class politics and its representation in the genre of the twentieth century working-class novel. In order to outline the dominant, dormant and emergent trends within the genre of the working-class novel, I have divided the study into three clusters. First, I study representative Anglophone proletarian novels from the decade of the 1930s to identify the established tenets of the genre. The second cluster focuses on South Asian novels of the 1930s that integrated class politics with colonial crisis. I demonstrate that while the US novels of the Great Depression, the Soviet Socialist novels and the industrial novels of Great Britain are studied as dominant texts of proletarian culture, texts with peripheral status within World Literature, produced by subcontinental writers like Mulk Raj Anand, Premchand and Manik Bandopadhyay extend the boundaries of revolutionary literature by introducing the subaltern’s crisis. The third cluster consists of texts by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Mohammed Choukri and Mahasweta Devi. I study these novels as emerging texts of revolutionary resistance and show how class struggle remains a continual theme in the latter half of twentieth century World Literature. The dissertation deploys a comparative methodology for studying working-class novels from Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. Revisiting the perception of the ‘literary’, this research demonstrates that the working-class novel is essentially an international entity. Integrating Marxist theories on literature and representation, with questions of body/disability, Post-colonial criticism and Ecocriticism, I advocate for interdisciplinary and comparative approaches towards the study of working-class novels as an indispensable part of twentieth century World Literature. This research proposes that working-class literature cannot be comprehended thoroughly if we restrict its limits within national literary studies and specific historical periods. Instead, I urge for an alternative methodology that addresses the subject as a transnational category that is constantly evolving. Literary representations of class-conscious political struggles indicate that twentieth century class identity and ideology is embedded within discourses of modernity and modern identity.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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