University of Sussex
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The non-metropolitan everyday and visual culture

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posted on 2023-06-07, 16:21 authored by Rosemary Shirley
In much of the existing literature on everyday life the spaces, rhythms and routines of the modern city are overwhelmingly privileged as sites of the everyday. This research relocates the topography of the everyday from its habitually urban focus, out into the English countryside by presenting an account of certain aspects of everyday life from a non-metropolitan perspective. The rural is often portrayed as existing outside of modernity, or as its passive victim. This thesis recasts the rural as an active and complex site of modernity and as such contributes to alternative ways of thinking the rural and a new perspective on the everyday. A central concern is to complicate established distinctions between the city and the country through developing the notion of the non-metropolitan. Also important, is discussion of how the ongoing tension between ancient and modern, and preservation and development, is articulated in non-metropolitan everyday practices. This study theoretically repopulates the rural, thinking it not only as a space to be looked at, moved through or visited, but as a space which is lived in. The first chapters examine everyday practices more often associated with the urban such as driving and littering, and rethinks them through a rural perspective. The later chapters focus on practices that are more traditionally embedded in the non-metropolitan: membership of the Women’s Institute and calendar customs such as village fetes, examining how these activities might be re-situated in discourses of modernity. The work is primarily informed by visual cultures including scrapbooks, photographs and films, that articulate how these aspects of the everyday might operate differently in non-metropolitan places. In addition, textual and original archival work contributes significantly to this study.


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  • Media and Film Theses

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  • doctoral

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  • dphil


  • eng


University of Sussex

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