‘And the weak must suffer’: The aesthetics of resistance and the novel after Europe

Rowcroft, Andrew (2016) ‘And the weak must suffer’: The aesthetics of resistance and the novel after Europe. In: Writing Europe: a one day conference, Wednesday 2nd November 2016, Kingston University, London.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


The unfolding spectacle of the European referendum has forcibly retuned us to the importance of critical thinking, close reading, and the politics of narrative. As the commentary of mainstream politicians has been shown to require a far more nuanced grasp of the historical conjuncture – or rather we can read this as a concerted effort to destabilise the relation between fact and fiction – this paper reflects on the broader situation of the place of the novel after such events. Once regarded as a key tool for the production of identity, nationhood, and even nostalgic reflection, what might be the task of the novel after Brexit?

Faced with the rise of new global fundamentalisms, a robust public anti-intellectualism, and a return to the rhetoric of nation – all amid the so-called collapse of historical consciousness – this paper turns to Peter Weiss landmark European novel The Aesthetics of Resistance as a central structuring text for these debates. Concerned with the reconstruction of a global left political vision, Weiss offers a compelling account of resistance, protest, aesthetics, and left unity that speaks to the present moment in mutually enriching ways. Using the recent work of Yanis Varoufakis on global austerity and Paul Mason on post-capitalist futures, the paper argues for the literary text as a vital source of political change ‘after’ Europe.

Keywords:Europe (General), 20th century literature, Marxism and literature
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V990 Historical and Philosophical studies not elsewhere classified
R European Languages, Literature and related subjects > R220 German Literature
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
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ID Code:24112
Deposited On:16 Sep 2016 10:24

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