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Structure of Class Feeling / Feeling of Class Structure: Laura Wade’s Posh and Katherine Soper’s Wish List

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>06/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Modern Drama
Issue number2
Volume61
Number of pages22
Pages (from-to)127-148
Publication statusPublished
Early online date24/05/18
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Theatre’s counter-hegemonic resistance to the “demonization of the working class” (Owen Jones) is the subject of this article. This resistance is analysed through case studies of two “class acts”: the elite Oxford boys in Laura Wade’s Posh (2010) and poverty-stricken youth in Katherine Soper’s Wish List (2016). My close reading of these two plays involves a reprise of Raymond Williams’s “structure of feeling”: the conjugation of “structure” and “feeling” allows me to engage with and advocate a dual concern with systems of classification, and the affective, experiential (lived) dimension of being “classified.” Moving between the class-fuelled feelings of entitlement in Posh and those of alienation in Wish List, I elucidate how, under the UK’s regime of neoliberal austerity, the label “working class” has become “sticky” (Sara Ahmed) with disgust-making properties (Pierre Bourdieu). Overall, what emerges is a critical feeling for the UK as a class-divided nation and the urgent need to resist the entrenched classifying gaze of the neoliberalist imagination.

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© 2018 University of Toronto Press