Socialism, Literature and the Radiant Future seminar

Wednesday 7th March, 1.15pm – 2.30pm
Room 257, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street

Matthew Taunton (Queen Mary, University of London)
‘Socialism, Literature and the Radiant Future: Before and After 1917’

Abstract: The idea that a “radiant future” (in Zinoviev’s phrase) was just around the corner was central to the Soviet myth. But how were Western ideas about the future affected by the advent of the Bolshevik revolution? This paper will suggest that the bright eyed visions of the future prevalent in the fin de siècle and the Edwardian period were increasingly replaced, after 1917, by sectarian debates about Russia. The future had become a spatial, rather than a purely temporal entity – whether it was to be welcomed as the true democracy (Shaw, the Webbs) or feared as a totalitarian nightmare (Orwell, Koestler, Nabokov). Speculative fictions like those of Morris, Bellamy, and Wells gave way to anti-Communist texts like Darkness at Noon, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Bend Sinister, and endorsements of Stalinism by Day Lewis, Shaw and others. This paper explores a range of ways in which ‘the future’ had to be rethought in light of the events of 1917.

PLEASE NOTE: We have changed seminar rooms this week and will be in Regent Street room 257.

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  1. Arthur Dooley, Liverpool Sculptor (1929-94) based his Speakers Platform on the Tatlin Tower.In 1973 the Liverpool trades council celebrated its 125th anniversary.In order to mark the occasion Arthur was invited to subbmit ideas for the work. He rejected the idea of a traditional sculpture, proposing that a speakers platform be provided instead. The natural location for this would be the pierhead., Liverpools traditional speakers corner. He proposed a form based on Tatlins design for a monument to the third international 1920. They settled on an upward spirral of steps, tapering inwards with the option of two speaking positions. A bowl at the top would contain gas burners producing illuminous flame. The platform was officially opened by Jack Jones of the TMGWU on Mayday 1973. Further infomation is available upon request

    Comment by Dennis Hepworth, 14 March 2013 #

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