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Title: A Birmingham psychogeography : continuity and closure
Author: Prendergast, Christopher Alan
ISNI:       0000 0004 5990 1065
Awarding Body: Keele University
Current Institution: Keele University
Date of Award: 2015
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There has been some sociological interest in MG Rover’s decline and widespread deindustrialisation in Birmingham. However, little research has considered the proximity of Rover’s closure in 2005 to another seminal event for the city – the opening of the Bullring shopping centre in 2003. These events appear indicative of Daniel Bell’s conception of ‘postindustrialism’. This thesis uses the tradition of ‘psychogeography’ to critique postindustrialism in Birmingham, examining the city’s collective psyche from a dynamic literary perspective. In Chapter 1, Daniel Bell’s predictions (made in 1973) of the likely characteristics of a post-industrial society are outlined and measured against recent economic and social events in Birmingham. In Chapter 2, the tradition of psychogeography is critically analysed, from Situationism and Kevin Lynch’s The Image of the City in the 1960s to the contemporary works of Iain Sinclair and Rebecca Solnit. I explore the argument that the key tenet of psychogeography missing from the work of contemporary practitioners is a utopian element with which writers theorize alternative forms of the city. This chapter provides a theoretical basis for both the use of literary montage and Stirchley’s inclusion in the psychogeography. Consequently, Chapters 3, 4 and 5 constitute the psychogeography itself, moving through three key geographical areas. These chapters offer a creative-critical representation of Birmingham in montage form, weaving fragments of narration with literary, theoretical and sociological works and considering the impacts of technology, industry and post-industrial urbanism on the city’s landscape and psyche. The discussion of Raymond Williams’s ‘mobile privatisation’ in Longbridge provides a catalyst for the consideration, in the final chapter, of a porous but socially divisive architecture in the Bullring. As the psychogeography progresses, the suburb of Stirchley and the Bullring market-area both emerge as contested spaces and, simultaneously, blueprints for an alternative form of the city. This thesis celebrates the variety, incoherence and inclusiveness of both spaces.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PE English