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2022 ◽  
Vol 1 (1) ◽  
pp. 63-78 ◽  
Author(s):  
Peter Shukie

The values of an academic conference might best be defined by the themes of that conference, the disciplines covered and the intended level of delegation. In almost every case we had experienced as a working-class academics organizing group, these were only surface changes, and the entire conference process remained the same across disciplines. Such academic process and practice appear rooted in an archaic series of expectations and conventions that insist on a certain way of being in the Academy. To create an inclusive space in practice and process that goes beyond inclusion as merely themes, but exclusion as actual practice, took reimagining. This article outlines the ways in which we attempted to shift beyond the conventional to create an alternative conference approach that challenged exclusion, actively sought meaningful inclusion and disrupted a culture of conformity. Our focus was on working class academics, as a body of people huge in number, diverse in background but continually obscured in language, policy and practice.


2022 ◽  
Vol 1 (1) ◽  
pp. 13-30 ◽  
Author(s):  
R. M. Francis

The working-class writer, having moved into a middle-class dominated field, often feels alienated from their old and new cultures – separated as they are from their heritage and not quite grounded in the new elite circle. The markers of working-class culture are much harder to define in our hyper-modern situation, and this exacerbates the alienation. This position opens up possibilities in perception and expression from those in the margins and off-kilter positions. Tracing the multivoiced qualities of Tony Harrison’s ‘V’ and R. M. Francis’s poetics, alongside biographical and autobiographical details, this hybrid article argues that off-kilter and outcast voices, like those in the aforementioned class liminality, are in the best place to explore and discuss the difficult to navigate cultures, communities and identities. This fusion of personal essay, poetry and literary criticism considers the unusual, marginal and liminal positioning of working-class writers, researchers and academics.


2022 ◽  
Vol 1 (1) ◽  
pp. 47-62 ◽  
Author(s):  
Kenn Taylor

The creative and cultural sectors in the United Kingdom largely exclude the working classes. Even the small number of working-class people who do ‘make it’ into these sectors often find themselves and their work badly treated by those who hold the real power. This article explores some of the experiences of working-class artists navigating the cultural sector and how exclusion, prejudice and precarity impacted and continue to impact them. It takes as its focus the filmmaker Alan Clarke and the playwright Andrea Dunbar, who were at the height of their success in the 1980s. It also considers the writers Darren McGarvey and Nathalie Olah, whose work has achieved prominence in recent years. It is through this focus I hope to demonstrate the long continuum of challenges for working-class creatives. This article also considers how, on the occasions when they are allowed the space they deserve, working-class artists have created powerful shifts in cultural production. Finally, it details some of the changes needed for working-class people to be able to take their rightful place in contributing to cultural life and the societal risks involved if they are denied that place.


2022 ◽  
Vol 1 (1) ◽  
pp. 31-45 ◽  
Author(s):  
Ross Clare

Although the academy tends not to recognize it, scholars and students from working-class backgrounds are automatically at a disadvantage. To demonstrate both sides of the university experience, I provide here a detailed, personal account of my journey from undergraduate to postgraduate to post-Ph.D. researcher. I pay special attention to my chosen subject of classics and ancient history, an area of study with its own set of class-based problems – for while those from working-class backgrounds might be (and are) subject to classism in any discipline, the seemingly inherent elitism of the classics and ancient history field makes it doubly hard for the underprivileged to succeed. I begin by illustrating how ‘working-class knowledge’ of popular culture granted me access into an otherwise closed, exclusionary set of subject materials and go from here to detail how such work is undervalued by the field, before ending on the violent effects that the all-too-familiar casualized employment structure has on those would-be academics who lack access to family wealth, savings and freedom of opportunity/action. Ultimately, I try to show how that – no matter how hard you try – if you are from working-class background, you are highly unlikely to succeed in the modern-day academic system.


Author(s):  
Argha Kumar Banerjee

Abstract In Katherine Mansfield’s short story ‘Life of Ma Parker’, the old, widowed charwoman is plagued by ‘unbearable’ thoughts of her deceased grandson Lennie: ‘Why did he have to suffer so?’ Lennie’s unfortunate death in the story is not a solitary instance of tragic portrayal of working-class childhood in Mansfield’s short fiction. In several of her tales she empathetically explores the marginalized existence of such children, occasionally juxtaposing their deplorable existence with their elite counterparts’. From social exclusion, child labour, parental rejection, infant and child mortality on the one hand to physical and verbal abuse, bullying in the school and appalling living conditions on the other; Mansfield's exploration of the working-class childhood in her short fiction is not only psychologically complex but sociologically significant. Focusing on the relevant short stories in her oeuvre, this brief analysis intends to closely examine such depictions of marginalized childhood experiences, particularly in light of the oppressive societal conditions that validate their repressive alienation and sufferings. Tracing various biographical circumstances that may have fostered Mansfield’s deep empathy with the children’s’ predicament, this analysis also draws attention to her subtle oblique narrative strategies that effectively represent the plight of working-class children in a convincing and an ingeniously nuanced manner.


2022 ◽  

James Malcolm Rymer (b. 1814–d. 1884) created two of the most influential monsters of 19th-century fiction: Varney the Vampyre and Sweeney Todd. The son of an Edinburgh-born London engraver, Malcolm Rymer, who published poetry and a Gothic novel, Rymer was raised in a working-class literary-artistic family. His brothers Gaven and Chadwick were artists, and his brother Thomas put his engraving skills to criminal use as a serial financial forger. For the penny periodicals magnate Edward Lloyd, Rymer prolifically wrote bestselling serials including Ada, the Betrayed, or, The Murder at the Old Smithy (1843); The Black Monk, or, The Secret of the Grey Turret (1844); Varney, the Vampyre, or, The Feast of Blood (1845–1847); and the Sweeney Todd tale The String of Pearls, a Romance (1846–1847, expanded in 1850 as The String of Pearls, or The Barber of Fleet Street). In the 1850s, Lloyd’s business model changed. Favoring news over fiction, he jettisoned Rymer, who in 1858 took up employment composing serials for Reynolds’s Miscellany, a penny periodical founded by the radical journalist and novelist George W. M. Reynolds. Some of Rymer’s serials of this period, such as the outlaw romances Edith the Captive, or the Robbers of Epping Forest (1861–1862) and its sequel Edith Heron, or the Earl and the Countess (1866), were issued in stand-alone editions by Reynolds’s regular publisher, John Dicks. Rymer also composed essays, short tales, and poetry and served as a periodical editor, including of two of Lloyd’s penny periodicals. Extremely private, he published for the most part anonymously, as “the author of” several of his bestselling penny bloods, and under a variety of pseudonyms, including the anagrams “Malcolm J. Errym” and “Malcolm J. Merry” and “Lady Clara Cavendish.” In the 20th century, while Sweeney Todd’s fame grew, Rymer was largely forgotten, in part because an apocryphal bibliographic tradition erroneously maintained that The String of Pearls and many of his other works were written by another Lloyd employee, Thomas Peckett Prest. Since the 1960s, scholarly interest in penny fiction has brought to light Rymer’s contemporaneous popularity, his complex aesthetics, his often liberal or radical politics, his profound impact on Victorian mass culture, and his work’s vibrant transmedia afterlives.


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