Re-Writing The 1984-5 Miners' Strike
Shaw, Katy (2007) Re-Writing The 1984-5 Miners' Strike PhD thesis, University of Lancaster.
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This thesis explores the function of poetry written by strikers during 1984-5, analysing the ways in which these writings articulate an essential dialogic exchange of key issues during and after the coal dispute. Focusing closely on the politics of form, this research interrogates the significance of the mode, means and function of strikers’ literature and of the alternative narratives propounded by established novelists in the wake of the coal dispute. Contesting Bakhtin’s notions of poetry as a monologic mode – a position which Bakhtin modified in his later writings this study explores the ways in which strikers’ poetry challenges the boundaries of the poetic form through combative discourses of heritage and culture. Throughout a collective archive of published and unpublished materials, strikers communicate through the medium of poetry, employing form to highlight both their own minority visibility and the capacity of literature as a weapon. Putting culture to political use, strikers hijack the mode and means of cultural representation to communicate counter-discourses, new languages, meanings and visions of the future. The thesis seeks not only to address and reclaim new perspectives on the 1984-5 dispute, transporting strikers’ writings from the anonymity of the archive to the illumination of the collective consciousness, but to juxtapose the perspectives they offer with competing counter-histories and heterodox – sometimes contradictory – ways of understanding the events in question. The significance of the competing representations offered by these very different modes of history as they engage in a wider battle to ‘author’ the conflict is central to the following discussion.
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