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Past! Future! In extreme: looking for meaning in the “New Romantics,” 1978–82

Worley, M. ORCID: (2024) Past! Future! In extreme: looking for meaning in the “New Romantics,” 1978–82. Journal of British Studies. ISSN 1545-6986

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1017/jbr.2024.57


First used in 1980, “new romantics” was a term applied to describe a British youth culture recognized initially for its sartorial extravagance and penchant for electronic music. Closely associated with the Blitz nightclub in London’s Covent Garden (as well as milieus elsewhere in the UK), new romantics appeared to signal a break from the prescribed aesthetics and sensibilities of punk, rejecting angry oppositionism for glamour and aspiration. In response, cultural commentators have often sought to establish connections between new romantism and the advent of Thatcherism and “the 1980s.” This article challenges such interpretation, offering a more complex analysis of new romanticism rooted in nascent readings of postmodernism. It also shifts our understandings of the periodization of post-war British history and the concept of “popular individualism,” arguing that youth culture provides invaluable insight both to broader processes of social-cultural change and to the construction of the (post)modern self.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Modern European Histories and Cultures
ID Code:115597
Publisher:Cambridge University Press

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