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Modernist culture in Britain took shape during a period of Russomania: British audiences were introduced to the music of Rimsky-Korsakov and Mussorgsky, they flocked to see Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes, and they encountered a whole new literature through translations of Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Chekhov, among others. But what impact did the revolutions have on British literature? This workshop explores Russia’s revolutionary tradition and its 1917 revolutions through the work of Virginia Woolf, H. G. Wells, Somerset Maugham, George Orwell and other icons of British literature.

Workshop format: Two lectures will provide the context for workshop-style discussion. Discussion will focus on extracts from writers including Virginia Woolf, W. Somerset Maugham, Dorothy Richardson, H.G. Wells, John Cournos and George Orwell. Participants are encouraged to explore the reading listed below in advance, but knowledge of it will not be assumed.

Who is this workshop suitable for: This workshop is open to everyone with an interest and desire to learn more. No previous skills, knowledge or experience is required.

Recommended reading:

  • Virginia Woolf, ‘Modern Fiction’ (1925), ‘The Russian Point of View’ (1925), ‘An Unwritten Novel’ (1920)

  • H.G. Wells, Russia in the Shadows (1920)

  • Somerset Maugham, ‘Love and Russian Literature’ and ‘Mr. Harrington’s Washing’, from Ashenden (1928)

  • George Orwell, Animal Farm (1945)

  • Excerpts from texts by Dorothy Richardson and John Cournos may also be provided

Refreshments: Tea and biscuits will be provided at the start of the workshop. Participants should make their own arrangements for lunch.

Rebecca is a Fellow and University Lecturer in English at The Queen’s College, University of Oxford. She is the author of Ezra Pound and the Visual Culture of Modernism (Cambridge University Press, 2007), and Theorists of Modernist Poetry: Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot and T.E. Hulme (Routledge Critical Thinkers, 2007). With Philip Ross Bullock, she edited Russia in Britain, 1880-1940 (Oxford University Press, 2013), and her new book, Russian Culture and the Creation of British Modernism, 1881-1922, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2019.

Matthew is a Senior Lecturer in Literature at the University of East Anglia. His book Red Britain: The Russian Revolution in Mid-century Culture will be published by Oxford University Press in 2019. He has co-edited (with Benjamin Kohlmann) A History of 1930s British Literature, which is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press in 2019. His first book was Fictions of the City: Class, Culture and Mass Housing in London and Paris.