Rewriting the North : Contemporary British Fiction and the Cultural Politics of Devolution book cover
1st Edition

Rewriting the North
Contemporary British Fiction and the Cultural Politics of Devolution

  • Available for pre-order on April 14, 2023. Item will ship after May 5, 2023
ISBN 9781032436609
May 5, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
240 Pages

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Book Description

This book shows how twenty-first-century writing about Northern England imagines alternative democratic futures for the region and the English nation, signalling the growing awareness of England as a distinct and variegated political formation. The 2016 Brexit vote intensified ongoing constitutional tensions throughout the UK since the devolution of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in 1997. At the same time, British devolution developed a distinctively cultural registration as a surrogate for parliamentary representation and an attempt to disrupt the status of London as Britain’s cultural epicentre. Rewriting the North shifts this debate in a new direction, examining Northern literary preoccupation with devolution’s constitutional implications. Through close readings of six contemporary authors – Sunjeev Sahota, Sarah Hall, Anthony Cartwright, Adam Thorpe, Fiona Mozley, and Sarah Moss – this book argues that literary engagement with the North emphasises the limits of devolution as regional political agency, calling instead for an urgent abandonment of the British centralised state form.

Table of Contents



Introduction: Placing the Cultural Politics of Devolution

Part 1: Stress Fractures

Chapter 1: Multicultural Britishness and the Urban North

Chapter 2: Post-British England and the Rural North

Part 2: Revolt

Chapter 3: Brexit England and the Deindustrial North

Chapter 4: Global Britishness and the Neo-Primitive North

Conclusion: Regional Development and the ‘Cultural Turn’

Works Cited


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Chloe Ashbridge is Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Newcastle University, where her research concerns the interplay between British literature and politics. She is the author of several articles and book chapters on class and neoliberalism in the Northern millennial novel, regional uneven development in Brexit literature, and the political identity of the North in Sarah Hall’s fiction. Chloe currently researching the function of regional literary awards in the context of Britain’s devolving cultural and creative economy. Rewriting the North is her first book.


"Rewriting the North breaks new ground. This critically-informed and prescient study of the contemporary literary north moves deftly between cultural politics and literary aesthetics in order to propose an alternative future for the field."

-James Procter, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Literature, Newcastle University, UK.

"Rewriting the North registers the erratic pulse of contemporary British politics, especially in the post-Brexit moment. Ashbridge considers a range of understudied but significant texts, highlighting literature’s ability to help clarify regional politics and the reverberations of devolution."

-Simon Lee, Assistant Professor of English, Texas State University, USA.

"Devolution is about the political meaning of Not Being England. But as Ashbridge brilliantly shows, adjusting the UK constitutional order places new pressures on England’s own nationhood and voice, sparking new questions of place, belonging and citizenship. (It turns out that a lot of England is also Not Being ‘England’.) If Brexit underscores the ailments of British Literature as a critical paradigm, this path-breaking study shrewdly examines what — other than alternative literary nationalisms — might come next.".

-Scott Hames, Senior Lecturer in English Studies, University of Stirling, UK.