19th Oct 2011 5:00pm-7:00pm
Seminar: Working-class Life Writing: from Micro-story to Macro-perspecitives through a Critical and Pedagogic Online Edition
Professor Timothy Ashplant, independent scholar"Working-class Life Writing: from Micro-story to Macro-perspectives through a Critical and Pedagogic Online Edition"
Despite the "theory revolution" of the 1970s onwards in literary studies, and the earlier shift to "history from below", working-class writing – including life-writing – remains relatively neglected and few works have been accorded close textual and contextual attention. This paper will sketch out a project I am just beginning: to create an online edition of one working-class life narrative by George Hewins (1879-1977): The Dillen: Memories of a Man of Stratford-upon-Avon (1981). This text was produced by Hewins's granddaughter-in-law, Angela Hewins, from interviews she conducted with him in his mid-90s. Textual and contextual links through the web could make the book a microhistorical window onto late Victorian and Edwardian England. Textually, Hewins's narrative is woven from various discourses, including folk song and music-hall. Links could be made from his use of music-hall songs into primary (recordings, sheet music) and secondary (histories of music hall) sources. Contextual links would locate his personal experiences of the Volunteers, the workhouse, the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre within wider civic, county and national structures of power and ideology. I envisage the seminar as a space for preliminary exploration, to test what might be called "proof of concept", and hope for lively discussion about possibilities and problems.T. G. Ashplant was formerly Professor of Social and Cultural History. He is author of Fractured Loyalties: Masculinity, Class & Politics in Britain, 1900-30 (2007); co-editor of Explorations in Cultural History (with G. Smyth 2001), and The Politics of War Memory & Commemoration (with G. Dawson & M. Roper 2000); and an editor of the International Auto/Biography Association (Europe)'s new e-journal, the European Journal of Life-Writing, published by Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam from 2012.