Date of Award

2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

English

First Advisor

Joshua Esty

Abstract

After Men tracks the prehistory of creative economy discourse via the modernist cultural form of the female adventure narrative. It focusses on three modernist authors – E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen – exploring how their work appropriates the language of Victorian imperial romance in order to grant new kinds of feminized economic agency to humanist capacities such as imagination, creativity and aesthetic perception. It argues that during the massive influx of women into the British economy between 1910 and 1940, these authors were pioneers in broaching the importance of aesthetic capacities to national economies and capitalist workplaces. Via attending to the contemporary afterlives of modernist adventure in post-industrial fiction and film – in Zadie Smith, Sally Potter and Rachel Cusk – After Men ultimately reflects on the ways such stories have shaped the workplace imaginations of today’s “creative class”, as well as broader debates about work, gender, kinship and aesthetics in the present moment.

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