student profile: Mr Matthew Clarke


Thesis work

Thesis title: Night Mail: Letter Writing and the Queer History of English Modernism

Supervisors: Mark BYRON , Kate LILLEY

Thesis abstract:

My project considers letter writing as both a practice and motif of queer modernism in England, from the fin de sie?cle through to the late 1940s. It seeks to understand how literary figures during this period used correspondence as a way to discuss queer forms of intimacy and desire, and the personal, literary, and political investments that shaped their writing. The project examines both the published and archival collections of canonical and non-canonical English writers, including Oscar Wilde, Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf, and Una Troubridge. Grounding my research is the proposition that loss, rather than preservation, has come to mark the structure of queer literary traditions. Building on recent work by Kevin Ohi, I argue that although the epistolary form enabled secrecy and intimacy during the early twentieth century, letters themselves appear most often among queer modernists as failed forms of communication. Lost, unanswered, or destroyed, they show up both the dangers and the hopes associated with queer correspondence.

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