Queering the grammar school boy: class, sexuality and authenticity in the works of Colin MacInnes and Ray Gosling

Robinson, Lucy and Jones, Benjamin (2017) Queering the grammar school boy: class, sexuality and authenticity in the works of Colin MacInnes and Ray Gosling. In: Bentley, Nick, Johnson, Beth and Zieleniec, Andrzej (eds.) Youth subcultures in fiction, film and other media: teenage dreams. Palgrave Studies in the History of Subcultures and Popular Music . Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 23-40. ISBN 978-3319731889

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Abstract

In 1959 Colin MacInnes published the fourth in his series of social issue novels, Absolute Beginners. In it the unnamed protagonist is constructed as the iconic teenager, slick, cool, creative, with his ex-lover Crépe Suzette as the object of his art and as his Achilles heel. The novel is framed over one summer, against a backdrop of racial tension, which ultimately led the Boy towards adulthood. MacInnes’s protagonist has been dismissed as an emblem rather than a character, and MacInnes himself derided by George Melly as a perpetual teenager. However in this chapter, we will suggest that taken as a whole MacInnes’ work constructs a complex understanding of The Boy’s political possibilities intersecting with sexuality, gender, race and class. By integrating his novelistic work with his journalistic and activist writing, we will demonstrate the complexity of MacInnes’ Boy as an autonomous, queer political agent, embodied in the ultimate Boy; Ray Gosling. Gosling’s own writing becomes a lens through which to root historical understanding of teenagers and teenage cultures as sexual and racial constructs.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Memoir, Youth Culture, Queer History, Documentary, AIDS
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D016 Methodology- General works
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History, 1453-
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
D History General and Old World > DA History of Great Britain
Depositing User: Lucy Robinson
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2016 10:54
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2019 14:58
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/65179

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