Call for Essays on Redefining “Britishness” in Contemporary British Literature and Culture
Despite the efforts of those who wish to keep Britain “for the British,” the country has become much more ethnically diverse than it was 60 years ago when the Windrush Generation initiated a post-war shift of population from the far reaches of the dwindling British Empire. Even so, discussions about what it means to be British continue today and include renewed calls to curb migration to Britain, as well as nervousness about preserving “British values,” which some feel are being “eroded” by immigrants and their offspring—an anxiety that is as much about Islamophobia as it is about more general racism and xenophobia. Today contemporary British authors and other artists are engaged in a discussion of what it means to be British, not only for those of Asian or African descent, but also with reference to the ways white British identity has changed in the wake of significant historical moments, including World War II, the arrival of the Windrush Generation, the effects of decolonialization and more recent trends such as globalism and terrorism. Many contemporary writers thus reconceptualize Britishness, nationhood and belonging.
Essays are sought that examine the ways that contemporary literature of a range of genres redefines Britishness and questions notions of belonging and exclusion, nationhood and globalism. What does it mean today to be British—or for that matter English, Scottish or Welsh? What is the relation between Britishness and Commonwealth, Irish or other European identities? What constitutes home for Britain’s migrants or their children? Have white Britons with long roots in the British Isles embraced or resisted revised conceptions of national identity? How much has the association of Britishness with whiteness really changed? How do questions of class, gender, sexuality and religion further complicate these issues?
This essay collection seeks to respond to such questions and to understand the experiences of migrant generations and those of contemporary Britons of all ethnicities. The collection will examine the competing discourses around notions of national identity and the ways contemporary literature grapples with these and related ideas. Contributions dealing with other cultural representations of contemporary Britishness, such as film and other media and popular culture, are also welcome. While all proposals about topics after WWII will be considered, a major focus of the collection is on more recent contemporary literature and culture.
Please send proposals of 500—1500 words and a brief biographical note to Dr. Susan Alice Fischer at firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 June 2009. A preliminary review will take place in early June and essays of selected proposals will be due by 1 September 2009. A respected academic press has already expressed keen interest in publishing the collection, though no promise of publication or contract can be issued until final texts have been accepted.
Dr. Susan Alice Fischer
Professor of English
Medgar Evers College of The City University of New York
1650 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225
718.270.4993 Email: email@example.com
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