PJ Harvey and Remembering England

Gardner, Abigail S (2017) PJ Harvey and Remembering England. In: Mad Dogs and Englishness: Popular Music and English Identities. Bloomsbury, New York. ISBN 9781501311253 (In Press)

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Abstract

PJ Harvey is an English musician who has, to date, enjoyed a career spanning nearly a quarter of a century. She comes from Dorset, a rural county in the South West of England, where she still lives. This fact is important because it locates her in a particular rural and potentially ‘pastoral’ place, one that is far away from the metropolitan, from Thomas Hardy’s ‘madding crowd’. This chapter focuses on White Chalk (2007) and Let England Shake (2011) to argue that they are her ‘English’ albums, a claim that rests not only on their musical temperament, lyrical concerns or audio-visual representation, but also on the nature of how they remember England, especially when this collides with narratives of war and home. Remembering is often selective and selection is part of the archiving process. What we leave in and what we leave out of the archive dictates in turn, what is and is not remembered. In these two albums, Harvey presents a version of Englishness that adds to contemporary discourses on (memories of) national identity by foregrounding the forgotten, the rural, the disappointed; by narrating tales of love and war that are not those of victory or triumph but of longing and loss.This chapter interrogates how and why this has happened and argues that it is, in part, due to her narration of Englishness and what aspects of it are remembered. To map this out, the discussion entails an analysis of the development over Harvey’s recent career (2007-2011) of audio-visual aspects of her work that might be construed as ‘English’ particularly in relation to locality and land (Aughey, 2007). One of the questions posed here is to ask whether these aspects might be seen to culminate in her more recent work at a time when nation and identity may be considered to be pertinent political and cultural themes. In this sense, the chapter asks whether her albums are part of an archiving process that contributes to a reframing of Englishness.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Media
Research Priority Areas: Being Human - Past, Present & Future
Depositing User: Abigail Gardner
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2016 08:57
Last Modified: 17 May 2017 06:45
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/4126

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