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Snapshots from the cultural history of taste

posted on 10.01.2011, 11:29 by Charlotte Stevens
This thesis explores the cultural, or literary history of taste as a social construct. Taking the mid-eighteenth century as its starting point, the thesis adopts an historicist approach to five very particular texts from this vast history. It begins by focusing on three novels: firstly, Henry Fielding's Tom Jones (1749) which was published at a time when there was increasing pressure to create 'standards' of taste; secondly, Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility (1811) which belongs to a moment that scrutinised these 'standards'; and thirdly, Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist (1837), which reflects an era in which taste is driven by commercial forces. The final chapters explore a significant twentieth-century development in the history of taste: namely, the adaptation of text into film. Here, David Lean's Oliver Twist (1948) and Tony Richardson's Tom Jones (1963) become the focus for close investigation. I argue that Lean's Oliver Twist very much belongs to a post-war Britain in which the acquisition of taste was part of a wider framework for maintaining national and social cohesion. Richardson's Tom Jones, I argue, must be read in relation to the cultural revolutions in tastet hat dominated the early 1960s.



  • The Arts, English and Drama


  • English and Drama


© Charlotte Stevens

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University. If you are the author of this thesis and would like to make it openly available in the Institutional Repository please contact:

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