Publishing Anglophone Wales: Politics, Culture and the ‘Classic’ Novel

  • Peter Vokes

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Questions about literary canon-making have haunted the development of twentieth-century literary critical scholarship. The processes of political devolution initiated in the closing years of the last century have only sharpened these questions for critics working in the newly empowered nations of the United Kingdom. In the tension-filled bilingual historical context of Wales in particular, discussions about the nature of the ‘Welsh’ classic literary text, and about the form and content of any identifiably Welsh literary canon, have always circled and fuelled debates about the nature of the country’s sense of cultural, political and above all linguistic identity. The same questions have accompanied the emergence of, and not insignificant ideological tensions encompassed by, the literary-critical field which has come to be known as ‘Welsh Writing in English’.

    This research project takes as its particular focus the relatively recent publication, by both the Assembly-backed Library of Wales and the independent collaborative Honno Press, of competing and very different lists of so-called or potentially ‘Classic’ Welsh Anglophone texts. In light of this, it also considers the implications of the relatively recent Seren Press initiative ‘New Stories from the Mabinogion’. Embedding its detailed examination of these commercial initiatives in the context of historical and literary-critical debates about the nature and value of Wales’ English-speaking aesthetic and cultural life, the thesis questions the extent to which Honno, the Library of Wales and Seren can be implicated in the self-conscious construction and solidification of a new Anglophone literary canon in a new era of cultural independence, let alone any more (or less) formal nationwide cultural response to the political drama of devolution.
    Date of AwardDec 2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorAlice Entwistle (Supervisor) & Jane Aaron (Supervisor)

    Cite this