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William McEvoy

This chapter builds on ideas of grief, music and performance by looking at a series of Irish folk songs that in literal and metaphorical ways deal with reanimation. The chapter links together ‘critical’ and ‘expressive’ forms of writing, as well as thinking about the phenomenology of memory, the desire to reconstruct the dead through cultural knowledges (in this case Irish folk music), and the relationship between language, song and identity. Part of the discussion revolves around the fragmentary and unfinished, touching on mishearings and the wider role of the acoustic in the grieving process. It integrates autobiographical modes of critical reflection to help establish a poetics of writing about grief that brings together critical and evocative stylistic approaches. The chapter focuses principally on the Irish folk songs ‘Finnegan’s Wake’, ‘The Ballad of William Bloat’ and ‘Navvy Boots On’.

in Reanimating grief
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William McEvoy

This chapter looks at the relationship between grief, music, performance and memory, examining the way songs reanimate grief, and how death and grief create intertextual connections across and between texts in different media. I discuss the short story ‘The Dead’ by James Joyce from his short story collection Dubliners (1914), the folk song ‘The Lass of Aughrim’ (1819/1844) and the novel Beautiful World, Where Are You (2020) by Sally Rooney. The chapter looks at the link between song and individual and cultural memory, examining how the role of grief shifts from the ballad into Joyce’s modernist short story and then Rooney’s novel about female knowledge, friendship and Ireland’s cultural legacies.

in Reanimating grief
Thatcherism and the reform of British pensions

Margaret Thatcher’s governments attempted to revolutionise how Britons saved for old age. The widely supported partnership built in the late 1970s between the state and employers would be swept away. In its place, a low-hanging state safety net would be set beneath a marketplace of privatised and compulsory personal pensions. Through these individual rather than collective investments, the state would reconfigure workers as capital-owning, risk-taking entrepreneurs with a personal stake in British capitalism. This revolution failed, however. Instead, the government hastily layered financialised personal pensions on top of existing collective institutions, but made these considerably less generous or attractive. In doing so, ministers left the United Kingdom with the ‘worst of both worlds’. A neoliberal revolution? uses recently released records to trace this revolution’s origins, explain its failure, and chart the aftermath. It shows Thatcherism to have been a surprisingly unstable political project and demonstrate the difficulties of marketising welfare states. The book presents new evidence of the role that neoliberal ideas played inside the Thatcher governments but also reveals the complex and contingent ways in which these ideas shaped policy. It argues that histories of neoliberalism must better explain how and why political actors pursued neoliberal aims through different forms of neoliberal policy change. A neoliberal revolution? comes to the striking conclusion that the neoliberal vision of pensions actually implemented was an evolutionary reform salvaged from the ruins of a failed revolution, one defeated not by trades unions or political opponents but by the very financial services companies said to embody neoliberal capitalism.

Aled Davies
,
James Freeman
, and
Hugh Pemberton

This chapter sets out existing approaches to Thatcherism and neoliberalism and calls attention to problems arising from the disconnections between them. Although the term ‘neoliberalism’ can be used improperly, the chapter argues that a distinctive set of neoliberal ideas and arguments took shape in the middle of the twentieth century. These gained their coherence through a network of thinkers interacting as a 'thought collective' with a common aim to reformulate liberalism. The chapter highlights the constituent schools that developed within this network and draws out their approaches to the welfare state and pensions policy. The chapter concludes by evaluating the relationship between Thatcherism and neoliberalism. It argues that this relationship can be best characterised as contingent, multi-layered, plural, embedded, dynamic, unstable, manifest, and ironic. On this basis, the chapter also claims that the most fruitful way to understand Thatcherism and neoliberalism is not to fully reconcile the differing perspectives of contemporaries, political scientists, sociologists, and historians nor to leave these entirely disconnected but, instead, to write histories that foreground the interconnections and interdependences of the phenomena each describes.

in A neoliberal revolution?
Aled Davies
,
James Freeman
, and
Hugh Pemberton

This chapter charts the political and economic environment of the 1970s, which shaped the uptake of neoliberal ideas in Britain and their folding into a political project on the Conservative right. The chapter starts by highlighting the growing compatibility between Conservative and neoliberal ideas, emphasising the range of individuals who acted as carriers or bridges between the two. The chapter then considers four environmental factors thath served to make these ideas salient. First, there is the impact of the economic crises of the 1970s and the way in which they called into question the prevailing economic policy model. Second, the chapter briefly elaborates the various attempts to address these multitudinous problems made by both Conservative and Labour governments during the decade. Third, it explores key changes in British capitalism and in the composition of the UK labour force, which served further to undermine existing assumptions about the operation of the economy. Fourth, the chapter widens the analysis to consider the 'crisis of consensus', examining the self-conscious break with the putative Keynesian and welfare state consensus to be found on both the Left and Right of British politics. Having set out this context, it considers how economic crisis served to advance the neoliberal critique of the state in Britain. The chapter concludes by connecting these developments with the Conservative party's longer-term attitudes to the state and its pursuit of 'statecraft'.

in A neoliberal revolution?
Sarah E. Cornish

This chapter examines Marghanita Laski’s 1952 novel, The Village to explore how the transition from wartime toward peacetime and the Labour Party win of 1945 are represented through the fictional village of Priory Dean. By reading the novel’s female characters’ interactions alongside the reforms promised by Sir William Beveridge’s 1942 ‘Report’ and put into motion by Attlee’s government, Cornish articulates the concerns prevalent for conservative and progressive women alike. With its plot tensions around star-crossed lovers of different classes, the novel falls categorically into middlebrow domestic fiction, and this chapter asserts that it uses the genre to produce an important indictment of class-based social hierarchies that would have made its readers reflect critically on this transitional period. Additionally, Cornish suggests that the novel provides feminist scholars a piece of social history useful for a reassessment of women’s shifting roles in the early post-war years and that active recuperation of Marghanita Laski’s work is essential for considering women’s political commitments during the 1940s and 1950s.

in Mid-century women's writing
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Shy Radicals, divergent world-making, and the poetics of statecraft
Anika Marschall

This chapter discusses Hamja Ahsan’s work Shy Radicals: The Antisystemic Politics of the Militant Introvert (2017). Shy Radicals is a manifesto written for the figure of the shy radical, and it envisions the fictive nation state Aspergistan to become a refuge from a loud, ‘extrovert supremacist culture’. Shy Radicals is a poetic satire that connects the lived experience of neurodivergence with modernist statecraft and creative writing as political performance for radical social transformation. The chapter identifies Shy Radicals as a performative script, which politicises the acoustic volume of spaces and neoliberal pressures to perform out aloud, which can impose pernicious violence on to some bodies and minds more than others. Methodologically, a performance studies lens enters into dialogue with the human geographic and feminist concept of ‘quiet activism’ and disability studies. Ultimately, the chapter proposes that Ahsan’s imaginary of Aspergistan, despite reinvigorating the much-discussed critique of the nation state, creates new forms of and platforms for quiet political action which move beyond ‘Left echo-chambers’ including reading, listening, crafting, and quietly being with.

in Theatre, activism, subjectivity
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Testing new drugs in psychiatry, 1940–1980

Clinical research, especially in psychiatry, takes place in a field of tensions: between economic, scientific, ethical, and therapeutic interests; between the individual and society; between law, guidelines, and the need for safety, as well as the awareness that clinical studies always involve residual risk. After the Second World War, large numbers of psychotropic drugs were tested for decades in the Münsterlingen Psychiatric Clinic, a state-run hospital in eastern Switzerland. The driving force behind these trials was Roland Kuhn, an internationally renowned psychiatrist hailed by many as the ‘discoverer’ of the first antidepressant, Tofranil. Based on Kuhn’s private archive, which contains extensive and previously inaccessible sources, On trial provides an in-depth look at the early days of industry-sponsored clinical research. The book examines how the clinic, patients, physicians, nurses, corporations, and authorities interacted in drug testing. It historicises the trials and situates them within their changing framework conditions. Which people and institutions were involved, and who knew what? How were substances tested, and which patients were affected? According to which patterns were the drugs administered? When did which values, guidelines, and standards apply, and what role did they play in practice? In pursuing these questions, the book reconstructs the history of clinical trials from 1940 to 1980 and locates the Swiss example in the period’s landscape of experimentation, not only meticulously tracing the specific practices at Münsterlingen but also telling a larger story about the changing history of clinical trials.

Memories of border crossings
Shirin M. Rai

This is a chapter about borders and crossings – borders that we carry on our backs, within ourselves, and borders that others draw and guard. Both create disturbances, mark new social spaces, memorialise old ones, draw lines seemingly to protect ‘us’ from assaults on territories and imaginations, and in doing so – through our being aware of these lines as well as through stretching them – make us what we are. The chapter emerges from fragments of biography, memory, of particular archives and of India’s political history – fragments that in their episodic nature raise more questions than provide answers. It suggests that one way of recuperating a Leftist ethos is to narrate the politics of the Left through the everyday lens, which is an important worksite of politics – in the home as well as outside it. Understanding the ways in which we remember and connect these two is important to know ourselves and our politics, and to develop alternative strategies of change.

in Theatre, activism, subjectivity
Peter Morgan Barnes

What was later called pasticcio was widespread in Roman poetry, medieval hagiography and in the cantillated epic tales sung at courts. Seventeenth-century Italian operas continued these techniques and this chapter argues that recitative derives from earlier kinds of sung speech. The contrafactum in liturgy and madrigals is argued to prefigure the reuses of aria texts and settings in opera. Specifically Italian pasticcio practices were passed to Britain in 1656 with Davenant’s The Siege of Rhodes, though they may have been known earlier. Yet indigenous traditions for reusing pre-existing material had been as deeply embedded in Britain as they were in Italy. Interpolation, ‘dressing’ and collaborative process had characterised spoken theatre before the civil wars, but new encounters with operatic practice emboldened British dramatists, as demonstrated in Davenant’s The Law against Lovers (1662). Spoken theatre became increasingly literate in culture attending to resonances of Protestantism, masculine codes of behaviour, rational motivations, personation and verisimilitude. Opera, on the other hand, in restoring a much-missed emotional engagement, relished the fantastical, the digressive; it was continental and Catholic and repeatedly broke neoclassical rules. It provided an experience which spoken theatre had left behind but the need for which had not yet left society.

in Pasticcio opera in Britain