Anglo-British Approaches to Modernity
What does it mean to be English in the modern world?
The answer doesn’t usually include Nancy Cunard’s assault on Anglo-British whiteness; J.B. Priestley’s democratic populism; Who guitarist Pete Townshend’s modernist rebellion; Vivienne Westwood’s anti-fashion; David Dabydeen’s blackening of the literary and visual canon; or Mark Wallinger’s detournement of English oil painting.
Kevin Davey, drawing on the work of Gramsci and Julia Kristeva, argues that any analysis of Englishness should acknowledge these figures, and goes on to pose searching questions about New Labour’s vision of the nation.
Kevin Davey is the Associate Editor of New Times. Closely involved with Signs of the Times group, he has contributed essays to The Moderniser’s Dilemma (Lawrence & Wishart 1998) and The Blair Agenda (Lawrence & Wishart 1996). He is a regular contributor to the New Statesman, Tribune and New Times.
‘The shelves are currently overflowing with morbid and trivial pronouncements about Englishness. Kevin Davey’s book is a different cup of tea altogether. If we are to move through this protracted crisis of national identity and towards a plausible, plural and emphatically POST-colonial sense of what it means to belong to this nation, then his creative and original insights will be indispensable.
With this book the debate about Englishness grows up. In his profound and engaging meditation Kevin Davey puts to shame most of the recent spate of essays on this fashionable theme.
‘Kevin Davey’s remarkable blend of history, criticism and politics, ranging across literature, music, art, fashion, biography and cultural theory, is one of the most stimulating contributions to that new questioning. It is certainly among the most original. It deserves to be, and surely will be, one of the most influential.
‘An original and incisive analysis of the peculiarities of the English, offering a variety of new perspectives on both the pasts and possible futures of Anglo-Britishness.