Michael  Shallcross Author of Evaluating Organization Development

Michael Shallcross

Independent Researcher

My work explores the tensions between popular and 'high' culture that have shaped the literary landscape of Britain from the 19th century to the present day, with a particular focus on the disruptive role of parody and satire in this contest of values. My first book, on the parodic relationship between G.K. Chesterton and literary modernism, was published by Routledge in 2017. I'm currently working on a second book for Routledge, on the parodic Devil in British post-Enlightenment culture.

Subjects: History, Literature


I was born, and still live, in York, UK. I studied an undergraduate degree in English Literature at Sheffield Hallam University, followed by an MA by Research at the University of York. I wrote my MA dissertation on G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown stories - the beginning of a critical appreciation of Chesterton that led to a doctorate at Durham University, awarded in 2014, and to the publication of my book with Routledge.

My academic path to Chesterton was perhaps unorthodox. As an undergraduate, my interest was primarily in more-or-less avant-garde writers and movements. My BA dissertation was on Andre Gide, and I delved enthusiastically into the worlds of British modernism, continental existentialism, the theatre of the absurd, and nineteenth-century Russian literature. However, I've always been drawn equally to the irreverence and exuberance of British popular culture, and have an enduring suspicion of any critical ideology that sets out to segregate cultural domains, or present them as mutually exclusive.

When I happened upon a copy of Father Brown a year or so after finishing my first degree, I was struck by its audacious juxtaposition of broad farce and existential disquiet, caustic satire and ethical enquiry. As time went by, I began to think more and more about how these dualities mirrored the qualities that I appreciated in the major works of literary modernism - a movement with which Chesterton was generally thought to have no affinity. A critical rethink seemed to be in order...


    PhD, Durham University, UK, 2014.

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    Post-Enlightenment British literary culture, G.K. Chesterton, modernism, parody, and satire.



Featured Title
 Featured Title - Rethinking G.K. Chesterton and Literary Modernism - 1st Edition book cover


Essays in Criticism

Parody and Identity in Chesterton

Published: Sep 30, 2016 by Essays in Criticism
Authors: Michael Shallcross
Subjects: Literature

This article explores Chesterton’s attachment to the principle of identity, arguing that this formed a source of both fascination and disquiet, especially when he contemplated instances in which a loss of self-mastery was bound up with loss of personal integrity. I argue that Chesterton subdued this anxiety through a mastery of identity that he discovered both in parody of others and of himself.


The Bentley Diaries: E.C. Bentley's Influence on G.K. Chesterton's Life and Work

Published: Aug 24, 2016 by English
Authors: Michael Shallcross
Subjects: Literature

This article is the outcome of ground-breaking archival research into diaries kept by E. C. Bentley, the lifelong friend of G. K. Chesterton, between 1894 and 1900. I draw upon the diaries to construct a new account of the pair’s youthful relationship, which challenges the orthodox biographical line on the circumstances of Chesterton’s pained navigation of the fin de siecle.

English Literature in Transition

Chesterton’s Assimilation of Fin-de-Siècle Voices in The Man Who Was Thursday

Published: Jul 01, 2016 by English Literature in Transition
Authors: Michael Shallcross
Subjects: Literature

G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday navigates a course between the literatures of nonsense and Decadence and vernacular forms such as the nursery rhyme and folktale. By piecing together fragments from other literary artifacts as a means of assembling his own nascent identity, Chesterton establishes a dialogic process which suggests that finding one’s literary voice is finally a matter of finding the right balance between a multitude of mutually correcting influences.


‘The Parodist’s Game’: Scrutiny of Cultural Play in Coe’s What a Carve Up!

Published: Aug 20, 2015 by Adaptation
Authors: Michael Shallcross
Subjects: Literature

For F. R. Leavis, ‘people who are really interested in creative originality regard the parodist’s game with distaste and contempt’. This article challenges Leavis’s pejorative intent, developing the concept of the ‘parodist’s game’ in the context of Jonathan Coe’s novel, What a Carve Up!, to explore the ways in which cultural play might generate the moral seriousness that Leavis implies to be incompatible with formally playful modes of discourse.