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English Literature   >   Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four


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Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four

In this course, Dr Nathan Waddell (University of Birmingham) explores George Orwell’s 1949 novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. The first two modules provide broad context for the novel: in the first, we think about Orwell’s writing of the novel and the reaction of his contemporaries, while in the second we think about Orwell’s life and career, and the experiences that contributed to the shape of the novel. After that, in the third and fourth modules, we think about the novel’s form, considering first (in the third module) the genre, structure and style of novel, and then (in the fourth module) the texts and traditions that had an influence on the novel. In the fifth module, we think about some of the key themes of the novel, before turning in the six, seventh and eighth modules to focus in more detail on the characters of Winston, Julia and O’Brien. Finally, in the ninth module, we think about the novel’s legacy, including its influence on other writings and its continued relevance today.


In this module, we provide an introduction to Nineteen Eighty-Four, focusing in particular on: (i) the reaction of Orwell’s contemporaries to the book, including his friend Jacintha Buddicom (‘a book that changed the direction of the world’) and his publisher Fredric Warburg (‘amongst the most terrifying books I have ever read’); (ii) Orwell’s planning of the novel, which can be dated to (at least) several years before its publication in 1949; and (iii) the legacy of Nineteen Eighty-Four, especially in Communist Europe, China and post-Trump America.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Waddell, N. (2020, January 04). Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four - Introduction [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Waddell, N. "Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four – Introduction." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 04 Jan 2020,


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Dr Nathan Waddell

Birmingham University