State Sponsored Literature: Britain and Cultural Diversity after 1945

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Debates about the value of the 'literary' rarely register the expressive acts of state subsidy, sponsorship, and cultural policy that have shaped post-war Britain. In State Sponsored Literature, Asha Rogers argues that the modern state was a major material condition of literature, even as its efforts were relative, partial, and prone to disruption. Drawing from neglected and occasionally unexpected archives, she shows how the state became an integral and conflicted custodian of literary freedom in the postcolonial world as beliefs about literature's 'public' were radically challenged by the unrivalled migration to Britain at the end of Empire.

State Sponsored Literature retells the story of literature's place in post-war Britain through original analysis of the institutional forces behind canon-formation and contestation, from the literature programmes of the British Council and Arts Council to the UK's fraught relations with UNESCO, from GCSE literature anthologies to the origins of The Satanic Verses in migrant Camden. The state did not shape literary production in a vacuum, Rogers argues, rather its policies, practices, and priorities were inexorably shaped in turn. Demonstrating how archival work can potentially transform our understanding of literature, this book challenges how we think about literature's value by asking what state involvement has meant for writers, readers, institutions, and the ideal of autonomy itself.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages240
ISBN (Print)9780198857761
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2020

Publication series

NameOxford English Monographs
PublisherOxford University Press


  • Britain
  • British literature
  • post-war
  • funding
  • sponsorship
  • cultural policy
  • postcolonial literature
  • multiculturalism
  • institutions
  • autonomy


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