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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 430

Changing Places (1975) is a "campus novel" by British novelist and literary critic David Lodge. It is the first of three novels by Lodge that comprises a trilogy concerned with British and American academic life. The two other works of the trilogy are Small World (1984) and Nice Work (1988).

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The novel is in part a roman a clef (i.e. a novel about real things, but these things are given fictional names); the University of Rummidge is based on the University of Birmingham—where Lodge himself taught—and the State University of Euphoria is a stand-in for the University of California at Berkeley. Morris Zapp, the American professor and star literary critic, is based in part on Stanley Fish. Additionally, Morris Zapp's wife, Desiree Zapp, is to a degree based on Fish's wife, Jane Tompkins. Although the plot is not based on actual events, many of the characters represent either actual people or the sort of people one is likely to encounter on the campuses portrayed.

The first major theme of the novel is the social and political unrest in the late sixties and early seventies. The student movement is an active part of the plot and reflects changing hierarchies and power relationships within the academic environment. In this setting, there are power imbalances between students and faculty and even a level of casual sexual fraternization that would no longer be considered acceptable.

Changing gender roles is also a major theme of the novel. The two wives struggle to find their identities in a world in which men have traditionally been professors and women have traditionally been "faculty wives." While Desiree asserts her own scholarly identity and embraces...

(The entire section contains 430 words.)

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