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'Betwixt and Between': Towards a (n)ontology of the mediocre

West, Emma 2013. 'Betwixt and Between': Towards a (n)ontology of the mediocre. Word and Text: A Journal of Literary Studies and Linguistics 3 (1) , pp. 12-24.

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The mediocre – or what constituted mediocrity – was a matter of intense debate in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century Britain. Cultural commentators, popular writers, satirists and members of the public all attempted to define the mediocre without success. Characterized by the average, the fair, the middling, the mediocre’s very unremarkability made it remarkably difficult to define. In reference to modern newspaper articles and criticism, this essay moves towards a (n)ontology of the mediocre, examining the (failure of the) strategies used to define the mediocre in the modern(ist) period. It argues that the mediocre, in its dogged desire not to shake the status quo, perversely disrupts the very idea or possibility of definition, not only calling established systems of cultural and social classification into question, but also challenging accepted notions of singularity, essence and beingness in the process.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
Uncontrolled Keywords: modernism, middlebrow, genealogy, cultural history, deconstruction
ISSN: 2069-9271
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Related URLs:
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 2013
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2017 03:43

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