Writing regeneration, literary construction of urban change in postindustrial Glasgow

  • Roseannah Murphy

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis examines literary engagement with - and resistance to - changing modes of urban regeneration in Glasgow, from its year as the 1990 European City of Culture to the 2014 Commonwealth Games. It not only considers how deindustrialisation and urban regeneration are represented in local writing, but interrogates the impact of urban transformation on the social production of literature, and argues that literary activity has, in turn, influenced the social and material processes of regeneration. It identifies a growing tendency for writers to become involved in participatory work exploring, and potentially mediating, the social impact of regeneration, and contends that this emergent mode of literary labour carries hazards for authors and communities.Drawing on perspectives from cultural policy studies, urban sociology, and new working-class studies to illuminate intersections between regeneration and literary work, it uses a variety of texts, archival sources and interviews to develop a case study approach. Each chapter focuses on a distinct type of urban space and period of urban transformation. Chapter One, concerned with cultural spaces, considers literary protest against Glasgow's 'Culture Year'. It demonstrates that while many writers contributed to events in 1990, such as the Glasgow's Glasgow exhibition and Writing Together festival, its literary legacy remains one of radical resistance. Chapter Two turns to domestic spaces, considering collaborative literary work in the context of housing regeneration - particularly Alison Irvine's This Road is Red (2011) which memorialises the Red Road Flats' social history. Chapter Three focuses on contests over public space, attending to the relationship between literary practice, community development and public health. Its principle case studies include Benjamin Obler's novel portraying the Pollok Free State protest camp, Javascotia (2009), and Alison Irvine's Nothing is Lost (2015) which reflects on the use and ownership of public spacein Glasgow's East End during the Commonwealth Games.
Date of Award20 Dec 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsAHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) & University of Strathclyde
SupervisorEleanor Bell (Supervisor) & Sarah Edwards (Supervisor)

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