Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research

Autumn term 2007/08

All seminars took place at the University of Sussex, on Tuesdays from 12.30-1.55 pm. Please note change of venue: Bramber House room 256.

Memory, identity and power in a 'deprived' area.

Date: 27 November 2007 
 Ben Rogaly and Becky Taylor (University of Sussex) 
This paper engages with individuals' life history narratives in relation to structures of power, interrogating outsiders' designations of a place and people as 'deprived' and marginalised. Drawing on data from over seventy in-depth interviews with past and current residents of three social housing estates in Norwich, and on archival data, we examine the contrasts as well as the connections between how people were categorised by the state and other 'outsiders', and their own identity practices. Firstly, we contrast the sense people had of having 'arrived' when moving into a council house with others' caricatures of the estates as a deprived neighbourhood. Secondly, we show how, through the provision of schooling and other services for the estates, outsiders' views of the area collided with those of residents. Thirdly, the paper considers the interplay between the setting up of the welfare state (and the expansion of council housing) and people's own memories of relying on their family networks and their own resourcefulness.

Our Newhaven - the setting up of a multi-media life history project in the town

Date: 6 November 2007 
 Jackie Blackwell (Community Development Worker) 
Jackie Blackwell, project co-ordinator is working with the local secondary school, historical society and the public in Newhaven, aiming to create a community history & living archive of the town. Newhaven has been, and still is a key area for regeneration in East Sussex and this seminar will include a discussion on whether life history projects can add value to the regeneration of a town.

Turning a Life History Master's thesis into a Faber publication

Date: 30 October 2007 
 Jenna Bailey (freelance author, formerly University of Sussex) 
Jenna Bailey will speak about her experience of working with and publishing the Cooperative Correspondence Club (CCC) papers, which are held in the Mass Observation Archive. The CCC was a group of 24 women who produced a private magazine from 1936-1990 solely for themselves. Jenna will discuss the process she went through to develop her research from a Master's thesis into her recently released book, 'Can Any Mother Help Me?' (Faber). She will highlight some of the lessons she learned when transitioning from an academic environment into a commercial market, and discuss some of the difficulties encountered when making private papers publicly available.

'Unholy Trinity of Cultural Revolutionaries': Reflecting on John Calder, Richard Demarco and Jim Haynes' Impact on Edinburgh 

Date: 23 October 2007 
 Angela Bartie (Strathclyde University) 
This seminar explores the reflections - then and now - of three individuals who played a central role in 'cultural contest' in fifties and sixties Edinburgh: John Calder, avant-garde publisher, Traverse Theatre Club Committee Member, and Edinburgh Festival conference organizer; Richard Demarco, founder of the Traverse and Richard Demarco Art Galleries; and Jim Haynes, founder of the Paperback Bookshop and the Traverse. Their personal reflections and perceptions will be considered alongside those of other cultural figures, historians, and journalists in relation to the process of conducting elite oral history interviews and unravelling the ways in which individuals present and represent their involvement in significant events and developments.