Professing the common wealth of literature, Leeds 1957-1969

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Drawing on the work of Simon Gikandi and Peter Kalliney, this article addresses the imbrication of cultural diplomacy, language and politics, and cultural capital that facilitated the rise of Commonwealth Literature at the University of Leeds. It offers a brief account of the disciplinary gestation of “Commonwealth Literature” at Leeds, addressing some of the foundational arguments in this campaign; revisits the Leeds conference of 1964 and the aid it garnered from governmental agencies; and examines the cultural work that the field is made to perform in documentation and lectures. The paper also addresses the creation of The Journal of Commonwealth Literature in the light of the Arthur Ravenscroft papers at the University of Leeds, sieving the surviving papers for interventions on the spread of English language and literary studies, and the cultural capital that they are said to help cultivate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-281
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Commonwealth Literature
Issue number3
Early online date10 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015


  • Archive
  • British Council
  • Commonwealth Literature
  • cultural capital
  • higher education
  • postwar


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