The Thatcher Factor: The 1980s in Literature

Module code: EN3144

This module examines representations of the 1980s, a decade defined by Thatcherism. It explores the ways in which writers have responded to the cultural changes that characterise the period and considers their assessment of the impact and legacy of Thatcher's policies. Texts examine the defining values and events of the age (competition, individualism, greed, the AIDS crisis) and engender debates about gender, class, race, sexuality and national identity in Britain. Was Margaret Thatcher the Iron Lady who made Britain great again or the woman who eroded the welfare state (‘Margaret Thatcher, Milk Snatcher’)? Was she a pseudo-man or the original representative of Girl Power? Did the Tory Party save or destroy Britain?

Texts include:

  • Caryl Churchill's play Top Girls (1982)
  • Hanif Kureishi's screenplay My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
  • Ellen Galford's satire on Anglo-Scots relations, Queendom Come (1990)
  • Jonathan Coe's comedy-horror What a Carve Up! (1994)
  • Alan Hollinghurst's Booker Prize-winning novel The Line of Beauty (2004)