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Managing hysteria: Exploring the writer’s voice through verbatim work

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Verbatim work places a premium on the invisibility of the artist. This is in tension to Neo-Romantic conceptions of the ‘writer’s voice’, often characterized as the expression of the sovereign individual. Such a tension raises the question of to what extent an expression of self is desirable and what we can learn about artistic voice in verbatim work. This article discusses such questions through the lens of a commission to creatively respond to the National Archive’s material on mental health. This resulted in a piece of ‘contrapuntal radio’ that dramatized the voices of militant suffragettes (c. 1907‐14). By consideration of the process of production, the article will argue that often, considerations of self-expression (where the artist is a unique voice transmitting their individuality), threatens a more productive self-expression, where an artist is a disinterested expresser of human feeling.
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Keywords: archives; authorship; creative writing; suffragettes; verbatim work; voice

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2019

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  • The Journal of Writing in Creative Practice is the official organ of the Writing Purposefully in Art and Design (Writing PAD) network. It offers art and design institutions an arena in which to explore and develop the notion of thinking through writing as a parallel to visual discourse in art and design practice. The journal aims to extend the debates to all national and international higher educational art and design institutions.
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