Lifts – a descent: the gendering of vertical space & Higher voices: a collection of linked short stories

Hampton, Sophie (2019) Lifts – a descent: the gendering of vertical space & Higher voices: a collection of linked short stories. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

This thesis in Creative and Critical Writing comprises two closely related parts which contribute to an understanding and discussion of the gendered nature of vertical space.

The critical thesis examines literary representations of the experiences of women and children who live in tower blocks built as social housing. My analysis draws on the work of Henri Lefebvre and Doreen Massey to investigate the production of the tower block as a gendered social space. I employ the lift as a lens to study the structuring and shaping of high-rise narratives and consider its role through a close reading of works by Alan Spence, Livi Michael, Alan Beard and Stephen Kelman. In four chapters – on liminality, disgust, mobilities and play – I argue that the tower block lift is represented as both a highly gendered space and as a mythologised space used to embody the narrative of the broken promise of the utopian solutions to the post-war housing crisis in the UK.

Higher Voices is a collection of twelve short stories – linked by environment, characters and events – set in a tower block in London over a one-year period which includes the Winter of Discontent and the election of Margaret Thatcher in May 1979. Each story is told from the viewpoint of a strong female or child narrator to give voices to those who can be marginalised in this setting. While themes of demolition and dereliction permeate, a sense of love, hope and justice is evident. The innovative use of twelve interludes set in the lift reinforces the importance of this conduit in the lives of the tower block’s residents; it peoples the building through fractured conversations and glimpses of graffiti which inject humour and irony and allow revelations to be made.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing
Depositing User: Gillian Aldus
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2019 10:51
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2019 10:51
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/72618
DOI:

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