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Citizens of Nowhere: Queerness and Statehood in Mid-Century Britain

Allan Hepburn will give this spring's David Eddings Lecture.

In Mary Renault’s novel, The Charioteer (1953), one character defines queer British veterans as “citizens of nowhere.” No matter how honorable, the war records of officers and servicemen alike were discounted because of their homosexuality. This paper correlates 1950s theories of citizenship in Britain, especially T. H. Marshall’s Citizenship and Social Class (1950), with mid-century works such as Peter Wildeblood’s non-fiction Against the Law (1955), Alan Sillitoe’s short story, “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner” (1959), and Basil Dearden’s film Victim (1961). With reference to the mid-century fascination with running, I will argue that the horizontal equalities proposed by the Welfare State exclude those already deemed to be disenfranchised or different.

Allan Hepburn is James McGill Professor of Twentieth-Century Literature at McGill University. He is the author of Intrigue: Espionage and Culture (2005), Enchanted Objects: Visual Art in Contemporary Fiction (2010), and, most recently, A Grain of Faith: Religion in Mid-Century British Literature (2018). He co-edits the Mid-Century Studies Series for Oxford University Press. His forthcoming works include essays on Nancy Mitford and diplomacy, Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach, and thrillers in the global Cold War.

Monday, March 18, 2019 at 5:00pm

Pysch 105

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