Working-class women and contemporary British literature

2009-11-03T16:56:13Z (GMT) by Sue Petty
This thesis involves a class-based literary criticism of working-class women's writing. I particularly focus on a selection of novels by three working-class women writers - Livi Michael, Caeia March and Joan Riley. Their work emerged in the 1980s, the era of Thatcherism, which is a definitive period in British history that spawned a renaissance of working-class literature. In my readings of the novels I look at three specific aspects of identity: gender, sexuality and race with the intersection of social class, to examine how issues of economic positioning impinge further on the experience of respectively being a woman, a lesbian and a black woman in contemporary British society. I also appropriate various feminist theories to argue for the continued relevance of social class in structuring women's lives in late capitalism. Working-class writing in general, and working-class women's writing in particular, has historically been under-represented in academic study, so that by highlighting the work of these three lesser known writers, and by indicating that they are worthy of study, this thesis is also complicit in an act of feminist historiography.