Spirits of enterprise: the disappearing child in Thatcherism and theory

Dean, Dominic (2017) Spirits of enterprise: the disappearing child in Thatcherism and theory. Literature & History, 26 (2). pp. 231-250. ISSN 0306-1973

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Thatcherism offered a promise of future prosperity based on unleashing the young male’s ambition; simultaneously, its ‘Victorian values’ sought to retrieve a moral past. Literary depictions of Thatcherism make the child central to a resulting contradiction between imagined moral past and materialistic future.

The disappearance of the child recurs in Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor (1985), Ian McEwan’s The Child in Time (1987), and Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty (2004). These novels satirise how Thatcherism managed the contradictions in its vision of the future by attempting to regulate the child’s ambitions. They even use the abducted, killed, or simply disappeared child to audaciously parody both the results of Thatcherite policy and contemporaneous practices of literary and psychoanalytic Theory, as each struggles to represent the child’s interests in the future. Here Thatcherite materialism leads, unintentionally and ironically, to unacceptable material ambitions in the child.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Thatcherism in literature, child disappearance, Theory, queer studies, Ian McEwan, Alan Hollinghurst, Peter Ackroyd
Schools and Departments: Professional Services > Research & Enterprise
Subjects: P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR6050 1961-2000
Depositing User: Dominic Dean
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2017 11:31
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2021 14:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/69511

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