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Title: Art Deco poets: reframing the works of W.H. Auden and Louis MacNeice in the context of Interwar Visual Art
Authors: Woodcock-Squires, Zoe E.
Keywords: Auden
MacNeice
Art Deco
Moderne
British
Poetry
Travelogues
Interwar
Visual art
1930s
Cubism
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: © Zoe Ellen Woodcock-Squires
Abstract: This thesis examines works by the British interwar writers W.H. Auden and Louis MacNeice in the context of their relationship with the contemporary style of visual art known as Art Deco or the Moderne. It is my contention that, having absorbed many of the Art Deco idioms as an accepted part of the world they experience, these are reflected in the writers’ works, firmly relating the work to a unique historical moment, place and social and cultural environment. In my reading of their work I identify sources of inspiration in their themes, idioms and imagery common to the artistic style, and investigate the extent to which their work has been informed in content and composition by visual art. Using diaries, travelogues, letters, essays, prose and poetry, I will argue that if Art Deco characterised the interwar period, it follows that it will also characterise the work of Auden and MacNeice. As such, I seek to reframe their work in an entirely new context, one seemingly unnoticed by earlier critics. My project also considers the ways in which a worldview is formed and environments are learned from childhood, with reference to early twentieth-century psychologists Erich Fromm, Lev Vygotsky and Maria Montessori, in order to posit the notion that growing up in the heyday of Art Deco, Auden and MacNeice may have subceived a great many of its motifs. I also identify the ways in which the writers engage visual art with intent, and establish a relationship between the writers and Art Deco’s politics, imagery and composition through discussion of individual poems and their co-authored book Letters From Iceland (1937). In particular, the thesis examines the presence and impact of Art Deco elements in their work, such as Cubism (using both visual and literary examples), Futurism, the cinema, the Ballets Russes, and interwar attempts at producing what Wagner termed gesamtkunstwerk, the ‘total work of art’.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/17419
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (English and Drama)

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