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The starting point for this work is the exigency of community in the contemporary world. A number of British novels and films written and produced during Margaret Thatcher's term in office illustrate the deep social and economic divisions in Britain and the crippling effects of a society dedicated to possessive individualism rather than to altruism and community. The novels and films of this study present Britain as a nation whose social network has already collapsed, and individuals are left to fend for themselves. Those who cannot are suffering, and they reach out to one another for assistance. Community development becomes the natural response to combating the careless society created by the individualist ethos. The communities developed in Penelope Fitzgerald's Offshore, Nick Hornby's About a Boy, Hanif Kureishi's The Black Album, and Mike Leigh's film High Hopes are very different from previous considerations of community. Traditional communities tend to suppress differences. The communities that develop in these works, however, conceive of social organization in a way that collapses the binary between individualism and community and allows both to exist simultaneously. These communities are also significant because they are anything but homogeneous in terms of social rank, political leanings, or ethnicity. The only common ground between the members of each group represented is rather simple—none can survive on their own. Caring for one another supersedes any consideration of differences. These works suggest, however, that communities are only effective when their members allow for an interplay of difference between one another.
Film, Penelope Fitzgerald, Nick Hornby, Hanif Kureishi, Mike Leigh, British Literature, Community
Date of Defense
August 18, 2005.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
William Cloonan, Outside Committee Member; Barry Faulk, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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