Letting England Shake: PJ Harvey and Englishness

Gardner, Abigail S ORCID: 0000-0003-2994-741X (2015) Letting England Shake: PJ Harvey and Englishness. In: Englishness Rising, 6th January 2015, University of Sunderland. (Unpublished)

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In the summer of 2013, PJ Harvey was awarded an MBE. A Dorset musician whose work has considered infanticide, abortion, murder, desire and war was recognized for her contribution not only to the ‘nation’ but also to its empire, recognized by ‘Her Majesty’ herself. Her local newspaper, The Bridport and Lyme Regis News, reported the fact by noting that she (the local ‘rock star’) was rewarded for her ‘services’ to music over a 20-year period. This is a fanfare for a local, if not national, ‘treasure’, an artist whose work over the years has ensured that she be commended for such ‘services’. Taking as its material Harvey’s Mercury Prize winning album Let England Shake (2011) this paper interrogates her role as an archivist of Englishness. Concentrating on the album and its accompanying short films, it notes how the lyrical and audio-visual shift towards a concern with the nation and its histories works to cement the now middle-aged Harvey as quintessentially ‘English’. Harvey has conducted poetry readings at the British Museum (with Andrew Motion) and guest edited Radio 4. She is a figure located in popular (and intellectual) culture; not in folk, but Let England Shake saw her drawing on and reworking ‘folkish’ elements. Looking at the context and content of the album, I want to question how far it might be considered a ‘heritage’ album and to address its resonance and reception as it collided with an increase in cultural manifestations of Englishness, which this symposium interrogates

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Research Priority Areas: Creative Practice and Theory
Culture, Continuity, and Transformation
Depositing User: Abigail Gardner
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2015 10:01
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2023 20:17
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/1927

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