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2. Social Reform in the 1940s
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the social and political reforms that were at work in the mid- to late 1940s, when the novel is set, focusing in particular on: (i) the apprehension with which the Ayres treat their new neighbour, the architect Mr Baker-Hyde, and his ‘new’ money; (ii) the contrast between the expanding working class and the diminishing Ayres family, epitomised by the childless (and possibly infertile) Roderick Ayres; (iii) the extent to which the building works in the grounds of Hundreds Hall reflect the social changes of post-war Britain; and (iv) the importance of the creation of the National Health Service in 1948 on the standing of Dr Faraday in the community.
In this course, Professor Lucie Armitt (University of Lincoln) explores Sarah Waters’ 2009 novel, the Little Stranger. We begin by thinking about the novel as a haunted house narrative, focusing in particular on what, if anything, the house is actually haunted by. After that, we think about the social and political reforms that were at work in the mid- to late 1940s, the period in which the novel is set, and the ways in which the reflects on these changes, before turning in the third module to the representation of children in the novel. In the fourth module, we provide a close reading of the scene in chapter five in which Roderick encounters the ghost, before moving on in the fifth module to think about the representation of communications technology in the novel – particularly the telephone and the speaking tube. Finally, in the sixth module, we focus on the narrator of the novel, Dr Faraday: is he as trustworthy and impartial as he would like us to believe?
Lucie Armitt is a Professor in Contemporary English Literature at the University of Lincoln. She is a specialist in the fields of contemporary women’s writing, the literary fantastic and the Gothic. She is an Associate Editor of the award-winning OUP journal Contemporary Women’s Writing and founding Treasurer of the Contemporary Women’s Writing Association.
Cite this Lecture
Armitt, L. (2019, October 07). Waters: The Little Stranger - Social Reform in the 1940s [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/waters-the-little-stranger/social-reform-in-the-1940s
Armitt, L. "Waters: The Little Stranger – Social Reform in the 1940s." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 07 Oct 2019, https://www.massolit.io/courses/waters-the-little-stranger/social-reform-in-the-1940s