School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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Image of Kelly Beestone

Kelly Beestone

Research Student, Faculty of Arts


Research Summary

Current Status

MPhil (full-time) - currently registered

Research Topic

'Charting American Habitus: An Analysis of 'Middlebrow' Fiction and its Readership through the Prism of Donna Tartt's Published Novels.'

Research Summary

My thesis attempts to explore how the popular American author Donna Tartt's books occupy the ambiguous realm between highbrow and lowbrow. The concept of the 'middlebrow' was popularized between 1920 and 1960, but has since fallen out of vogue. During this period, the term was used as an insult by critics such as Dwight Macdonald, to suggest that readers of books which fell into this category were middle-class people with aspirational dreams of intellectualism, but who were unwilling to face the challenge of the highbrow classics. This sweeping stereotype of 'middlebrow' audiences is what I hope to address with my research. By examining Tartt's three published novels: The Secret History (1992), The Little Friend (2002), and her most recent book, the Pulitzer Prize winning The Goldfinch (2013), I aim to analyse the techniques and themes in her work which have led to critics labelling her as a 'middlebrow' author, as well as how her agents and publishing team have helped to perpetuate this idea, thus reopening a niche in the publishing marketplace that has been largely ignored since the 1960's.

Research Interests

Popular American Fiction from 1950 to Present Day; Visual Culture; Politics of Identity in American Culture; Women's History (Particularly as Represented in American Literature and Culture)

Research Supervisor/s:

Dr. Graham Thompson

Dr. Nick Heffernan


Kelly Beestone. "Fuelling the Mob: Differences Between the London Riots and Ferguson." The Hampton Institute Online (12/07/2016).

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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