Benjamin Kohlmann, Assistant Professor of English Literature from the University of Freiburg, will present his paper. This paper outlines a literary prehistory of the welfare state through readings of works by Edward Carpenter, H. G. Wells, E. M. Forster, and Virginia Woolf. By focusing on the slow politics of reform he foreground a temporality of institutional change – and a modality of literary writing – that differs from the aesthetics and politics of rupture commonly associated with the experience of modernity.
Kohlmann is the author of Committed Styles: Modernism, Politics and Left-Wing Literature in the 1930s (Oxford UP), on the Auden circle's flirtation with Communism. He is also the editor of Edward Upward and Left-Wing Literary Culture in Britain (Ashgate) and co-editor of Utopian Spaces of Modernism: British Literature and Culture 1885-1945 (Palgrave).