"O wot 'orrid langwidge!": Working-class literature from John Clare to James Kelman

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Who this event is for

  • Everyone


JHB Lecture Theatre , John Henry Brookes Building , Headington Campus, Gipsy Lane site


Simon will investigate class and literature ranging across British writers from the early 19th century through to the present day.

Across poetry and fiction, Simon will present works – classic and not so well-known – which foreground issues of social and economic power, work and wealth, language and accent, region and property.

This lecture asks what happens when literary pursuits turn to working-class lives and what happens when working-class people write themselves into these traditions? Is there a continuity, say, between the ‘peasant poet’ John Clare an the Booker-winning Glaswegian novelist James Kelman? Should we even care about class when we read? Is there such a thing as working-class literary tradition?

About the speaker

Professor Simon Kövesi

Simon Kövesi is Professor of English Literature and Head of the Department of English and Modern Languages at Oxford Brookes. He studied at the University of Glasgow, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Nottingham Trent University. His study of the contemporary Scottish novelist James Kelman was short-listed for the Saltire Scottish First Book of the Year Award in 2008. Simon has been editor of the John Clare Society Journal since 2008. He has co-edited two collections of essays on Clare, the latest being John Clare: Poetry, Culture and Community (Cambridge University Press, 2015).