Matthew Taunton is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the English Department at Queen Mary, University of London. His first book Fictions of the City: Class, Culture and Mass Housing in London and Paris (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2009) examined literary and filmic representations of mass housing from the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth. The book focussed on the ways in which seismic changes in urban dwelling patterns were registered in literature and film, from novels like Emile Zola’s L’Assommoir and George Orwell’s Coming Up for Air to films such as La Haine and Nil By Mouth. The book argued for a fundamental rethinking of the culture of the modern city, countering a widespread critical obsession with outdoor phenomena – streetwalking, windowshopping and flânerie – in order to focus on the changing realities of indoor inhabitation. The urban home is a realm where the most intimate domestic experiences intersect with the wider political realities of architecture, urban planning and public policy. Fictions of the City explores this interface.
His present research project examines debates about Bolshevik Russia among the literary intelligentsia of the interwar period, focussing in particular on the Bloomsbury group, the Fabian Society, Koestler and Orwell, as well as a variety of lesser-known journalists, activists and pamphleteers. He retains a strong interest in the literature and culture of modern cities and has an article on the representation of London and Paris in Julian Barnes’s Metroland in press.
Fictions of the City: Class, Culture and Mass Housing in London and Paris (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)
‘The Significance of the Stalin-Wells Talk: Wells, Shaw and Keynes on Russia’ in Rebecca Beasley and Phillip Bullock (eds.), Russia in Britain (forthcoming, publisher tbc.)
‘Collective Farm or Cottage Economy?: English Socialism and Perceptions of Soviet Agriculture in the Period of the First Five-Year Plan’ in Critical Quarterly 53.3, Autumn 2011, special issue on ‘Food’ ed. by Matthew Taunton and Lucy Scholes
‘The Flâneur and the Freeholder: Paris and London in Metroland’ in Sebastian Groes and Peter Childs (eds.), Julian Barnes: Contemporary Critical Perspectives (New York; London: Continuum, 2011)
‘Worlds made of Concrete and Celluloid: The London Council Estate in Nil By Mouth and Wonderland’ in Ansgar Nünning, Vera Nünning and Birgit Neumann (eds.), Cultural Ways of Worldmaking: Media and Narratives (Berlin; New York: De Gruyter, 2010)
c100 entries in Laurel Brake and Marysa Demoor (eds.), Dictionary of Nineteenth Century Journalism (London: British Library, 2009). Total contribution amounts to over 40,000 words. Entries include: ‘Distribution’, ‘Electrical Journals’, ‘Evening News (1881-1987), ‘Field (1853- )’, ‘Journalism Schools’, ‘Letters / Correspondence’, ‘Macaulay, Thomas Babington (1800-1859)’, ‘Press Association’, ‘Printing Presses’, ‘Provincial Newspaper Society’
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