Leicester Cultural Quarter’s post-industrial past to be explored through creative writing

Posted by er134 at Feb 07, 2014 12:08 PM |
University of Leicester is commissioning creative writers to work with archivists to explore local people’s personal connections with landmark post-industrial sites in the East Midlands

Talented writers will be able to tell the untold stories of the post-industrial past of Leicester’s Cultural Quarter, thanks to a new University of Leicester project.

The University of Leicester’s School of English is commissioning writers to produce work which explores the emotional bonds and personal connections people have with former industrial buildings in two landmark East Midlands sites.

The Centre for New Writing, which is participating in an Arts and Humanities Research Council project called ‘Affective Digital Histories’, is seeking writers who will work with archival material to explore the social changes wrought by manufacturing decline in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter and the Howard Town and Whitfield wards of Glossop, Derbyshire.

During the industrial decline, factories and warehouses were adapted to serve new purposes – including becoming dance halls and rave venues.

This means that people from every walk of life – from factory workers to immigrants to high-income professionals – have passed through these buildings.

The aim of the creative writing commissions is to tap into people’s feelings for these buildings, and will show how communities formed and relationships developed between people from different cultures as the sites’ purposes changed.

The project, ‘Affective Digital Histories: Re-creating De-Industrialised Places, 1970s to the Present’ is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

It is awarding nine commissions – worth £1,100 each – which will cover a range of literary styles.

There will be two commissions for poetry, two for historical narrative non-fiction, two for radio plays, one choreopoem – combining poetry and dance - and two for collections of flash fiction – short pieces of writing, often less than 1,000 words.

Dr Corinne Fowler, Director of the University of Leicester’s Centre for New Writing, who is leading the project, said: “We are interested in pioneering a technique whereby creative writers work closely with archivists to give a finely-grained and historically nuanced sense of place and of people’s relationships to such places.

“The project is particularly focused on people’s emotional bonds with de-industrial spaces. There is still a lot to learn about how community and intercultural relationships have occurred in the context of urban change.

“Creative writing is uniquely equipped to explore emotional bonds with place and between those who share experiences of being in particular buildings. The commissions will contribute substantially to the task of re-interpreting urban history in the East Midlands.”

For more information about the commissions, please contact Dr Fowler at: csf11@le.ac.uk

The University’s School of English has a strong history of supporting creative writing – especially through The Centre for New Writing and Grassroutes project, which celebrates Leicestershire’s diverse writing talent.

More information about the Centre for New Writing can be found at: http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/english/creativewriting/centre

And more information about Grassroutes can be found at: http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/english/creativewriting/grassroutes



Notes to editors:

Please contact Dr Corinne Fowler at: csf11@le.ac.uk

Leicesters Cultural Quarter

Leicester’s Cultural Quarter was once a bustling industrial and commercial district, home to hosiery and footware manufacturers Like Faire Brothers & Co. Freeman and Hardy and Willis.

Especially after the 1960s, industrial decline led to businesses leaving and factories closing. By the late 1990s, the area was largely abandoned, with buildings becoming derelict.

Regeneration funding has since transformed the district into a hub for the creative industries and into luxury dwellings.

While the narrative of regeneration emphasises the Cultural Quarter’s industrial past, less is written about the late 1970s to the late 1990s, when groups such as the Leicester United Caribbean Association, gay-friendly organisations, cross-dressers, punks, goths and bikers used the growing range of disused spaces.

A prominent example is the transformation of the ornate Queens Buildings, once housing several footwear firms, into Dielectric, an infamous Midlands rave venue of the early 1990s.

The commissioned writers will be able to draw from a large and varied archive, which is currently being drawn together for public use by the project team.

Glossops Howard Town and Whitfield Wards

Glossop experienced large-scale de-industrialisation in the twentieth century, which resulted in abandoned cotton and paper mills that had dominated the town from the late eighteenth century.

Whilst gentrification of some factories and industrial housing has occurred, abandoned or under-used industrial buildings remain.

These buildings have been variously used by squatters or for light industry as well as for gigs, raves and art installations.

Such buildings are decreasingly likely to be maintained by public funds and there is talk of likely abandonment or decay, or else possible procurement by community groups.

Interviews, photographs and copies of the Glossop Chronicle will be made available for writers who wish to write about Glossop for their creative writing commissions.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.  www.ahrc.ac.uk

Share this page: