British Social Realism in the Arts since 1940 by D. Tucker

By D. Tucker

This can be the 1st publication of its type to seem throughout disciplines at this important element of British paintings, literature and tradition. It brings a number of the intertwined histories of social realism into old viewpoint, and argues that this occasionally marginalized style continues to be a major reference aspect for creativity in Britain.

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This is a particularly significant possibility at the present precisely because of the influence of what has been called our contemporary ‘capitalist realism’ (Fisher 2009). For Mark Fisher, capitalism under neoliberal regimes has sought to present itself as ‘the only viable political and economic system’ and to generate the impression that it is now ‘impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative to it’ (Fisher 2009, p. 2). This is what Daniel Bensaïd refers to as the ‘naturalisation of the economy and a fatalization of history’ (Bensaïd 2007, p.

Meadows’ interest in social realism is crossed with an interest in popular genres, particularly the gangster film with its dependence on a tragic motif of the suffering human body (see for instance Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)). As I will argue below, this emphasis on the qualities of vulnerable corporeality directs our attention to an ethics capable of sustaining a sense of solidarity. As we will see, for Eagleton there is a crucial relationship between a properly ethical sense of our ‘species-being’ (Eagleton 2003a, p.

122). History and ‘capitalist realism’ Looking forwards and backwards will be an important part of what follows, for one of the propositions I would like to explore is that history 20 British Social Realism in the Arts since 1940 has an important relationship with social realist film. Now on one level this involves the uncontroversial assertion that social realist filmmaking represents a tradition, however interrupted and diverse, and also that this tradition retains a vital relationship with contemporary efforts.

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