The politics of community in contemporary British fiction

Ely, Peter Matthew Kieran (2019) The politics of community in contemporary British fiction. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


This thesis draws on the work of philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy to propose ‘community’ as a conceptual and hermeneutical figure that opens up productive possibilities in the study of contemporary British literature. Community is advanced as a form of political ontology, which moves beyond contingent appearance toward radical possibilities for transformation in the current political landscape. Particular attention is paid to the way in which community is ‘put to work’ as part of the operation of the capitalist state, where community emerges as a central site of political contestation. Community is demonstrated as offering ways of rethinking the figure of ‘politics’ itself, opening avenues for developing its meaning through emergent theories of ‘gender’, the ‘queer’ and ‘trans’. Community is addressed in the space of literature and representation, where Nancy’s figure of ‘myth interrupted’ is presented as an important dimension of communitarian thought. Through interrogating the representability of community, its mythic foundations are subjected to a process of radical openness that allows for a vibrant and dynamic form of community to emerge. Situating these capacities in the works of authors Jackie Kay, Jon McGregor and Ali Smith, literature is presented as a singular space through which communitarian possibility can be glimpsed. The conceptual figures of ‘death’, ‘gender transformation’ and ‘magic’ are proposed as offering new possibilities in our understanding of community, demonstrating how literature can offer productive and innovative ways of reimagining our understanding of community in the contemporary moment. In this way, this thesis contributes to ongoing debates about the significance of ‘community’ in contemporary thought, drawing on literature to propose the ‘politics of community’ as a productive avenue for addressing this.

Actions (Repository Editors)

Item Control Page Item Control Page