Hello! Thanks for popping by. I’m Jennie Bailey, a writer and a PhD scholar at Manchester Metropolitan University: Cheshire (2014 – 2018). This blog is an extension of my PhD research – funded by a studentship from Manchester Met – and is a subject of continual fascination. Rochdale is full of stories – everyday stories, spooky stories, poetry, and drama – and I feel that it is a place that should be recognised of being important in literature of, from, and about Greater Manchester.
In my thesis I argue that Rochdale has been much maligned in the contemporary British imagination. Further, the rhetoric of the Northern Powerhouse project, and the language of proposed regeneration projects in Rochdale are insubstantial – they do not capture what it means to make sense of place/s around the borough. Utilising approaches from the geohumanities — specifically literary geographical research and practice — I suggest that making sense of Rochdale is, and should be, complex. Here, then, the thesis explores Rochdale through its (his)stories, geographies, cartographic and literary representations, and how new writing of place can be created.
There are many ways to understand a place – live there, work there, pop in for a flying visit – and you can understand a place through imagining it through its stories, poetry, film, and art. Through meeting, and collaborative engagement with people and wildlife. There are many meanings, myriad interpretations, broken narratives and playful representations. Place, to me, has shifting meaning and is a multi-faceted experience. As a writer, I’m interested in/and worry about how to represent the “realities” of people and place/s, I’ve tried to capture some activities I’ve run and some thoughts on place-writing and place writers in this section: Writing Place Tool Kit (nb. will appear after I’ve flung my thesis in!). I’m keen on sharing skills, experience, and thoughts. I would love to hear your thoughts too!
Like Rochdale itself, my research approach aims to present different facets of place. This Blog showcases a mix of research, creative responses to the borough, non-fiction, and re-imaginings. (This includes musings on the art of actually “doing” a critical-creative PhD and thinking around this process!)
My research interests include: place writing praxis; urban studies; folklore and mythologies of place; critical and creative cartographies; practice-as-research; imaginative writing; geohumanities; and the somewhat fractious relationship between how place is made in the imagination and how it is portrayed in regeneration projects or through heritage narratives.
Are you from Rochdale? Or do you write in Rochdale? Or do you know a good tale or two that you’d like to share? I’d love your input so if you’d like to get in touch about this research and the literary texts of Rochdale please do – you can email my university address: 08982343 [at] stu [dot] mmu [dot] ac [dot] uk
I’m also on Twitter: @WritingRochdale
Reference library for articles consulted during the PhD is here: www.zotero.org/jenbee/items