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Title: The Disappearance of Spoons, a dramatic poem, and: The Fugitive Archive, the creative writer in the archive
Authors: Gillman, Tracy Elisabeth
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis consists of The Disappearance of Spoons, a collection of linked dramatic poems, and The Fugitive Archive, a critical analysis of how a creative writer encounters and investigates significant silences in the local archive. The Disappearance of Spoons explores the experiences of four characters stranded during a national rail strike at Newcastle Central Station in January 1919. The disappearance of a canteen of spoons is at the heart of the work, its title being taken from an observation made at the time by Arthur Ransome in his Russian journals. The characters encounter each other’s differences, attempting, but failing to negotiate the others’ conflicting objectives. Their interactions and intertwining stories concern sacrifice and surrender, the possibilities of revolution, and the liberation of war. The central character Molly and her unspoken heretical dissent forms the hinge of the action. With a mixture of idiomatic and formal expression the characters’ inner worlds and the selves they present to themselves and each other begin to unravel. Although historical research forms some of the creative content, I found that an alternate and more complex iteration of the contribution of women to the cultural and industrial character of Tyneside is often supressed within local archival expressions. Working-class women’s experiences are not prioritised and often misrepresented in the archive despite previous evidence to the contrary. The silent and inexpressible can find a home in a poetic form, however, and the creative work reflects a fractured and incomplete witness to the forgotten fragments of evidence residing in the further corners of the archive. The critical thesis examines my research experience as a creative writer pursuing a voice for the unvoiced and overlooked in the local archive, in which the disappearance of spoons serves as a facilitating metaphor for archival absence.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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