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Amrit Singh and The Birmingham Quean: fictions, fakes and forgeries in a vernacular counterculture.

Abstract : A thesis in creative writing and an experiment in literary theory, The Birmingham Quean comprises three intertwined strands of literary composition. The first is a mock-heroic poem reminiscent of Pope’s The Rape of the Lock, though composed using the stanza of Byron’s Don Juan to chronicle a day in the life of a forged pound coin. The Queen’s wonkily mis-struck head tells the tale of a darts match between a drag queen and a gangster in a pub in Birmingham, the English city whose name is synonymous with counterfeiting. The second strand is a philological commentary of the poem by an Oxbridge scholar, supposedly written in the 1950s, who reads it as a dystopian satire in the tradition of Huxley and Orwell. He views the poem as a work of reactionary traditionalism and his commentary is driven by a sense that both the coinage of civilisation and the English language have been irreversibly debased by post-war American capitalism and its deracinated, treacherously ambiguous culture. The final compositional strand is a parallel narrative charting Ph.D student ‘Sam Trainor’ and his struggles to track down the true author of this fake material, ‘Amrit Singh’, in contemporary Birmingham. We learn that the original work has been destroyed by fire, and what we read is Sam’s meticulous reconstruction of the literary hoax, along with his endeavours to decipher the intricate theory of fiction it propounds. ‘Amrit’ had argued, in the wake of Bakhtin, that a sophisticated contrapuntal form of fiction – as intracultural translation – was the only linguistic mode that could permit people to be genuinely psychologically plural, achieving consensus without compromise, and a radical shift towards a dynamic social epistemology. Sam’s engagement with this polyphonic theory and practice demonstrates how ‘Creative Writing’, as a new university subject, is itself a vivid counter-cultural performance, encroaching upon and reinventing the research-fields of the social sciences.
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Contributor : Samuel Trainor <>
Submitted on : Thursday, July 6, 2017 - 2:31:22 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, November 29, 2018 - 1:21:04 AM
Document(s) archivé(s) le : Thursday, December 14, 2017 - 3:02:38 PM


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  • HAL Id : tel-01465264, version 1



Samuel Trainor. Amrit Singh and The Birmingham Quean: fictions, fakes and forgeries in a vernacular counterculture. . Literature. University of Glasgow, 2006. English. ⟨tel-01465264⟩



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