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The chapter examines the argument that we need to traverse the fantasy that we are outside the world and can control and change it, and give up on the search for certainty and security. The chapter proposes that traversing the fantasy of separation and control, and giving up on the security and comfort of imaginary wholeness, is not impossible, as many argue; rather, certainty and security always prove illusory. The chapter notes the thread connecting the author’s earlier work and introduces the way the book will explore these issues through autobiographical narrative accounts, studies of drama and film, and critical analyses of practical political action. It ends by pointing out how abandoning the search for certainty leads to a different pedagogy.

in Change and the politics of certainty
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Working memory

This chapter introduces the book's primary focus: street theatre's production of postindustrial space. The introduction makes clear that there is no such thing as a postindustrial society: forms of labour accumulate rather than cleanly replacing each other. Nonetheless, deindustrializing communities have a vested interest in relegating industry to the past and presenting themselves as happily and healthily postindustrial. Street theatre is crucial to this process as a theatrical form that claims space as public, carves events from ongoing situations, and rescripts everyday behaviours. The necessity of street theatre to the production of the postindustrial means that street theatre companies benefit from and participate in redevelopment, but it also means that through street theatre the industrial may reassert itself in unanticipated ways. The introduction proposes working memory as a central metaphor for the theatrical and performative processes analysed throughout the book.

in Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space
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A theatre maker in every sense

Lily Brayton was one half of the twentieth century’s first celebrity couple on the London stage. Together with her husband, Oscar Asche, Brayton dominated popular theatre for a decade with her brave and ingenious characterisations of the ‘oriental woman’ in a series of plays from Kismet (1911) to Cairo (1921). She had come to fame, often in breeches roles, in popularised versions of Shakespeare plays since the turn of the century. Her ‘New Woman’ characterisations and performances were matched equally by her offstage business acumen. The chapter explores Brayton’s positive and successful image of woman, both on and off the stage, and sets this against her near erasure from theatre history as her separation from the stage occurred simultaneously with her separation from her husband.

in Stage women, 1900–50
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This chapter takes the form of a narrative, auto-ethnographic or autobiographical account. In the period between 2002 and 2009, the author had made several visits to New York, and to Manhattan in particular, to the site of Ground Zero, in an attempt to understand the response of New Yorkers to the collapse of the twin towers. She was grappling with the idea of trauma time – the time of openness after an event that throws into doubt what seemed to have been certain – and its political implications. The visit recounted in this chapter took place after a gap of five years, and proved to be a turning point for the author, challenging what she had thought her work was about.

in Change and the politics of certainty
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This chapter explores the representation of love in Stone’s filmmaking highlighting the importance of a transition that began in the mid-to-late 1990s with U Turn. The argument here posits that U Turn represents a marker in Stone’s career, not because of the loss of aesthetic vitality as some critics observed, that had been integral to earlier films, but precisely because the film marks the emergence of a distinctive melodramatic shift in Stone’s work, and a shift towards the darker aspects of parental love in particular. The significance of a melodramatic filter for viewing Stone’s later films is then used to assess Alexander and W. before investigating the way in which relationships and emotional love is worked into both these films and in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Savages.

in The cinema of Oliver Stone
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Different voices, voicing difference

In 1946 Mabel Constanduros published her autobiography, Shreds and Patches, as an account of her journey from shy middle-class wife and mother to creating and realising her very public role as ‘Grandma Buggins’ for BBC radio. This chapter focuses not so much on the well-trodden path of the performer’s rise from suburban obscurity to fame, but rather on the less well documented network of influence that enabled performing women to train and tailor their professional work in the fast-changing industry of the early twentieth century. Training with Elsie Fogerty and developing her skills as a ‘diseuse’ on amateur and professional stages between the wars, Constanduros wrote and performed for radio, film and later television. As one of many women making their way in a professional structure that welcomed their practice, if not always their insistence on agency, Constanduros offers a more coherent model of professional ambition and practice than the self-deprecating title of her autobiography suggests.

in Stage women, 1900–50
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The chapter reflects on the work of memory scholars. Inspired by a reading of Chris Marker’s film La Jétee, it explores concepts of time. La Jétee offers contrasting fantasies of the future, whilst also offering glimpses of a time that builds itself around us. The chapter shows that, despite the way Marker’s film complicates notions of a linear temporality and a better future, those notions return to haunt much scholarship on memory. I draw on Eric Santner’s notion of an escape – not from the everyday, but into the everyday – and ask whether such an escape is countenanced in the academic world.

in Change and the politics of certainty
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This chapter pursues the argument that both Wall Street: MNS and Savages have rather more to say about money and capitalism as it is practiced than many critics acknowledged. These recent films articulate a particular kind of moral collapse that is different from the moral implosions examined in Wall Street, Talk Radio and Natural Born Killers. While these earlier productions espoused a range of ideological commentaries about individual responsibility and even personal honour, framed within questions about institutional justice and collective action, the more recent films give less emphasis to these concerns and instead foreground a form of retribution that almost revisits the traditional notions of frontier ethos and Darwinian laws of nature.

in The cinema of Oliver Stone
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British Army sisters and soldiers in the Second World War

Negotiating nursing explores how the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (Q.A.s) salvaged men within the sensitive gender negotiations of what should and could constitute nursing work and where that work could occur. The book argues that the Q.A.s, an entirely female force during the Second World War, were essential to recovering men physically, emotionally and spiritually from the battlefield and for the war, despite concerns about their presence on the frontline. The book maps the developments in nurses’ work as the Q.A.s created a legitimate space for themselves in war zones and established nurses’ position as the expert at the bedside. Using a range of personal testimony the book demonstrates how the exigencies of war demanded nurses alter the methods of nursing practice and the professional boundaries in which they had traditionally worked, in order to care for their soldier-patients in the challenging environments of a war zone. Although they may have transformed practice, their position in war was highly gendered and it was gender in the post-war era that prevented their considerable skills from being transferred to the new welfare state, as the women of Britain were returned to the home and hearth. The aftermath of war may therefore have augured professional disappointment for some nursing sisters, yet their contribution to nursing knowledge and practice was, and remains, significant.

The chapter examines the changes to the dominion of nursing work on active service overseas. The chapter first explores the extensions to the nursing role, most particularly the care of wounds and burns. This is followed by a discussion of the expansion of nursing duties into those that had hitherto been the domain of medicine. These roles include the commencement and management of blood transfusions, surgical work and anaesthesia. Finally the chapter considers ‘new work’, the most critical of which was the administration and use of penicillin. The constantly shifting requirements of war nursing prevented Army nurses from remaining in a professional comfort zone of accepted roles and regimes. The experience of living with uncertainty may have caused anxieties for some, but the active participation in new treatment modalities suggests that nurses who went to war were keen to move beyond the normal boundaries of nursing practice and many relished the opportunity to do so. The chapter argues that the developments in practice and the increased confidence nursing sisters displayed with this new work altered their working relationships with medical officers from one of deference to one of collegiality, enabling more productive decisions for their soldier-patients’ care.

in Negotiating nursing