In the "Introduction" to Brexit and Literature, Robert Eaglestone argues that Brexit is not only a political and economic phenomenon, but "perhaps most significantly […] an event in culture, too. Brexit grew from cultural beliefs, real or imaginary, about Europe and the UK" (2018: 1). In this seminar, we are going to read several literary texts that either directly address the cultural beliefs behind Brexit (e.g. Ali Smith, Autumn, 2016); Zadie Smith, "Fences: A Brexit Diary", 2016), or which indirectly evoke or represent the structure of feeling that resulted in Britain's exit from the EU. Texts of various genres such as Paul Kingsnorth's historical novel The Wake (2014), Sarah Moss' coming-of-age narrative Ghost Wall (2018), the satires by Sam Byers (Perfidious Albion, 2018) and Ian McEwan (The Cockroach, 2019), or John Lanchester's climate fiction novel The Wall (2019) belong to the latter category.
We will read a selection of these texts beginning with the linguistically challenging The Wake (it is written in a language meant to resemble Old English, invented by the author) and continue with Smith's Autumn. Please buy and start reading the novels as soon as you can.