Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Beth Rosenberg

Second Committee Member

John Hay

Third Committee Member

Anne Stevens

Fourth Committee Member

Jeff Schauer

Number of Pages



Thatcherism in the Contemporary British Novel, 1978-2012

This dissertation reveals a nuance to contemporary British texts that have thus far been almost homogenously categorized as contributing to a negative portrayal of the political, cultural, and social policies of the 1980s. A study of texts and criticism of the contemporary British novel highlights the disproportionate number of depictions that could be considered anti-1980s and, as a representation of that decade, in turn anti-Thatcherite. There is an apparent consensus in the damaging effects on almost all aspects of British society during the decade because of the many policies enacted by the Thatcher government. The continued negative depiction is as prevalent today as it was forty years ago. I strive to show that this understanding of the texts by critics does not match up with a close analysis of the authors’ works. As key examples, an analysis of texts by Martin Amis, Nick Hornby, Alex Wheatle, Caryl Phillips, Monica Ali, and Zadie Smith along with their accompanying criticism shows that there is more complexity than simply confining those texts to a group that is almost entirely critical. At first glance, these texts appear to share themes that make them easy to label as a damning indictment of the 1980s. The texts written in the 2000s have likewise been hailed by the majority of readers and critics as exemplars of the progress made in England since the shift away from the damaging effects of the political and social legacies of the 1980s. However, they also highlight the importance of looking backwards and retrospectively analyzing the time period with the benefits of hindsight. Far from confirming the destructive nature of many of the policies that would define the 1980s, these twenty-first century texts point to the importance of analyzing the policies as a vital part of the success in rescuing England from the myriad problems of the 1970s. I contend that this dissertation shows that there is a subtlety to the novels that belies the belief that almost all texts that deal directly, or even in part indirectly, with the 1980s and Margaret Thatcher are negative in their representations. In fact, through a close reading of the novels and an analysis of the state of England over the last forty years, the texts point to the social, cultural, political and economic climate of the 1980s as necessary, important, and beneficial to the overall success of the various demographics that make up its people well into the 2000s.


Amis; Hornby; Phillips; Thatcher; Thatcherism; Wheatle


English Language and Literature

File Format


File Size

1.0 MB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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