2012 Highlights

Luke Davies

1 May 2012

Luke Davies

Luke Davies is an AHRC funded PhD student in the Department of English Language and Literature at University College London with a specialisation in George Orwell. His interests include the relationship between politics and literature, 1930s London and critical theory.

Abstract: Writing Homelessness in London: 1903-1933

An exploration of the treatments of homelessness in Jack London’s The People of the Abyss, W.H. Davies' The Autobiography of a Super Tramp and George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, with a focus on their descriptions of sleeping conditions in charitable and government sponsored institutions within central London. Specifically, this will involve comparing accounts of workhouses, spikes, kip houses and Salvation Army hostels: those who slept in them, how they slept in them and why they slept there, paying close attention to the different ways in which these factors are presented. My aim will be to chart the development of attitudes reflected in these works on the subject of sleep and homelessness, particularly in relation to contemporary discourses on welfare reform, slum clearance and rising unemployment. My argument will be that perceptions of homelessness developed as simultaneously an awareness of the responsibility of the State to the homeless and of the burden upon the State of the homeless were inscribed into their sleeping spaces.