• Accelerated Times: British Literature in Transition, 1980-2000

      Pollard, Eileen J.; Schoene, Berthold; University of Chester; Manchester Metropolitan University (Cambridge University Press, 2018-12-20)
      The central premise underpinning our volume is simple: the final two decades of the twentieth century no longer constitute an integral part of what we call the contemporary. We now view the late twentieth century through a complex historicising lens darkened by the events of 9/11, the ensuing ‘clash of civilisations’ and ‘war on terror’, the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, ongoing austerity and – most recently – the rise of populist politics. An additional impediment to immediate access and perfect recall is the impact effected by technological advances on everyday life in the twenty-first century: how reliably can we ‘supermoderns’ (to adopt Marc Augé’s term ) be expected to recollect and relate to a now bygone world that did not have the internet, email, social networking, wifi or the mobile phone? Even those of us who lived through the 1980s and 1990s will be finding this increasingly difficult. Superseded and defamiliarised by previously unimaginable technologically-modified ways of everyday living, the late twentieth century is beginning to look more and more like history. One prominent theme informing the tone of this introduction is how the final two decades of the twentieth century were marked by the speed of accelerated change in society’s attitudes to class, subnational devolution, religion, sexuality and the Black and Asian Minority Ethnic experience, as well as how these complex and mutually imbricated discourses helped produce a notable sense of motion sickness in the literature of the period.
    • Building Compassion Capacity: Chester Retold and Storyhouse, a Case Study

      Pollard, Eileen J.; University of Chester (Edinburgh Napier University in collaboration with Aston University, the Universities of Dundee and Auckland, 2018-09-25)
      This article is a case study of a level five experiential learning module that I designed and taught at the University of Chester in the summer term of 2018 in collaboration with the city’s innovative new arts hub, Storyhouse. As a case study, it will demonstrate how ‘compassion’ can be placed at the heart of module design within Higher Education Arts and Humanities teaching, as well as how compassionate practice can emerge organically from innovation.
    • Making History Otherwise: Learning to Talk and The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

      Pollard, Eileen J.; Carpenter, Ginette; University of Chester; Manchester Metropolitan University (Bloomsbury, 2018-06-09)
      This chapter will explore ambiguous representations of history in Hilary Mantel’s two short story collections to date, Learning to Talk (2003) and The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher (2014). The chapter will consider the figure of the ellipsis, which is traced metaphorically and literally in the stories, as a pertinent means by which to read them, including the titular ‘The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher’ in Mantel’s more recent collection. Despite the media furore that followed the publication of this book, this chapter will argue that it is less the fantasy of the shooting of the premier that disturbed, but rather the pervasive sense of ambiguity. The uncertainty of individual biographies in Learning to Talk develops into an unsettling national narrative in her 2014 collection. For example, as stated in the titular story concerning Thatcher, ‘note the cold wind that blows through [the door] when you open it a crack. History could always have been otherwise’ (2014: 239-40).
    • ‘Mind what gap?’: an interview with Hilary Mantel

      Pollard, Eileen J.; Manchester Metropolitan University (Routledge, 2015-04-02)
      Hilary Mantel is a contemporary British writer who has published eleven novels, one memoir and two collections of short stories. A relatively unknown and under-researched author, she shot to fame in 2009 by winning the Booker Prize for her historical novel Wolf Hall – an intelligently sensitive account of Thomas Cromwell’s spectacular rise from black- smith’s son to right-hand man of Henry VIII. I interviewed Mantel at her Devon home in September 2012, just one month prior to her making literary history by winning the Booker Prize for a second time for her follow-up to Wolf Hall. This staggering achievement made her the first woman to win the prize twice, the first British author to gain a double, with Bring Up the Bodies becoming the first sequel to ever receive the award. She remarked on accepting the prize: ‘Well I don’t know, you wait twenty years for a Booker Prize . . . Two come along at once!’ A characteristically humorous and self-deprecating response that she qualified by saying she had no expectations of standing at the podium for a third time when the final instalment of her Tudor trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, is published. We pursued an engaging, vivid and wide-ranging conversation in the sitting room of her top floor flat, which overlooks the bay. Mantel and I discussed her roots in the Derbyshire village of Hadfield where I also grew up and where there is now a blue plaque marking her childhood home. In particular, we considered the figure of the ellipsis, since the ambiguities inherent to elliptical thinking seem so to suit the uncertain bases of her writing, as I hope this interview helps to illustrate.
    • No Such Thing as Society: The Novel under Neoliberalism

      Pollard, Eileen J.; Schoene, Berthold; University of Chester; Manchester Metropolitan University (Cambridge University Press, 2018-12-20)
      Because literature always depends on evoking a sense of community between writers and their readers, there can be no flourishing of literature without society. Indicative of this axiomatic is the novel’s contribution to how any specific ‘social imaginary’ or ‘structure of feeling’ comes to crystallize in the first place. Complementing Raymond Williams’ influential encapsulation of ‘structure of feeling’ as each new generation’s response to ‘the unique world it is inheriting, taking up many continuities [...] yet feeling its whole life in certain ways differently’, Manfred Steger defines social imaginaries as the ways in which ‘“we” – the members of a particular community – fit together, how things go on between us, the expectations we have of each other, and the deeper normative notions and images that underlie those expectations’. The final two decades of the twentieth century are no exception in this regard, as they too constitute a singular slice of history with its own particular set of common understandings, expressions and practices of culture and community. Importantly, the perceived distinctiveness and newness of the period was the result not so much of a gentle generational shift as a wholescale political revolution, the enormity of which would jolt society into a hitherto inconceivable direction of socio-economic change and cultural transmutation. As Colin Hutchinson puts it, the inception of Thatcherite neoliberalism in Britain is best understood as a violent ‘assault […] on the public realm [leading to] the erosion of civic sensibilities and collective allegiances’. Another point of interest for us is the formative implication of ‘The Individual’ in the symbiosis of society and the novel. Nancy Armstrong describes individualism as ‘the ideological core’ of the novel; in her view, ‘novels think like individuals about the difficulties of fulfilling oneself […] under specific cultural historical conditions’. Armstrong’s proposition assumes special significance in the light of Margaret Thatcher’s announcement in 1987 that ‘there is no such thing [as society]! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first.’ Thatcher’s eradication of society and her hyperbolic championing of the individual instigated a fundamental ideological recasting of late twentieth-century Britain’s social imaginary, which in turn significantly influenced the development of the British novel.
    • Origin and Ellipsis in the Writing of Hilary Mantel: An Elliptical Dialogue with the Thinking of Jacques Derrida

      Pollard, Eileen J.; University of Chester (Routledge, 2019-04-30)
      This monograph provokes a re-engagement with Derrida’s thinking in contemporary literature, with particular emphasis on the philosopher’s preoccupation with the process of writing. This is the first book-length study of Mantel’s writing, not just in terms of Derrida’s thought, but through any critical perspective or lens to date.
    • People will never forget how you made them feel

      Pollard, Eileen J.; Manchester Metropolitan University and University of Chester (Manchester Metropolitan University (Online), 2015-05-31)
      This reflection offers a response to the concrete experience of having my teaching observed as part of a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP). I used David A. Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model (1975) to launch a small action-based study following this experience. My pilot produced a sample of material about what both students and teachers potentially think we are all doing in a higher education lecture theatre. These findings led to my considering what constitutes a lecture, whether or not it is ‘redundant’ in the current online landscape, and, if not, what aspects of the pedagogy of this ancient technique we might wish to emphasise or recapture.
    • ‘What cannot be fixed, measured, confined’: The mobile texts of Hilary Mantel

      Pollard, Eileen J.; Carpenter, Ginette; University of Chester; Manchester Metropolitan University (Bloomsbury, 2018-09-06)
      ‘I don’t know, you wait twenty years for a Booker prize, two come along at once!’ was Hilary Mantel’s laconic response to winning for the second time. A respected, if critically neglected, British author, she had in fact been writing and publishing for over twenty years when she won the Booker prize in 2009 for her tenth novel, Wolf Hall. She then made literary history by winning for a second time in 2012 with the sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, an unprecedented achievement that catapulted her into the realms of global stardom. The Tudor novels have since been adapted for the stage by Mike Poulton and have been performed to much critical acclaim in Stratford, London and Broadway. Similarly, the 2015 BBC dramatization has aired in both the UK and the US to glowing reviews. Yet, despite Mantel’s renown and popularity at home and abroad, there remains surprisingly little critical material interpreting the rich and varied content of her work. As a result, this collection of essays aims to introduce students, scholars and general readers of Mantel’s writing to the diversity of her texts in order to showcase the extraordinary range and reach of this contemporary British author, currently at the peak of her writing life. The essays will explore the recurring themes of ambiguity, ghosts, trauma, childhood and memory that both trace and, in many ways, define Mantel’s oeuvre. The collection will also examine the challenge to conventional evocations of the past that underpins Mantel’s historical novels, from A Place of Greater Safety (1992) through to Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, as well as the complex experimentation with perspective and tense that really sets apart her later work on Thomas Cromwell. The main objective of this book is to provide a wide-range of readers with a guide to Mantel’s historical fiction, autobiographical writing and short stories, as well as some of her more experimental early novels, that will help explain those most ambiguous elements of her corpus while demonstrating her fearlessness and breadth as a writer.
    • ‘When the reservoir comes’: Drowned Villages, Community and Nostalgia in Contemporary British Fiction

      Pollard, Eileen J.; University of Chester (Open Library of Humanities, 2017-12-08)
      A ‘drowned’ or flooded village describes the destruction of a settlement or community to make way for a reservoir; as a practice, it most commonly occurred in Britain during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when the need for fresh water in growing industrial cities was at its height. This essay will explore three different representations of the ‘drowned village’ in contemporary British fiction. Reginald Hill’s On Beulah Height (1992), Hilary Mantel’s short story ‘The Clean Slate’ (2001) and Sarah Hall’s Haweswater (2002) will all be considered in terms of how the drowned village is presented and described, and what this representation suggests about the ways nostalgia, ritual and ruin impact upon notions of community and place.