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Supervisions (1)

Doctor of Philosophy

Level Doctor of Philosophy
Student Dr Stephen Hornby
Status Complete
Part Time No
Years 2016 - 2021
Project Title Writing Intermale Sexuality History Plays
Project Description My PhD is a practice led research investigation into writing plays for performance from archive. In order to conduct this research, I have written two full-length history plays. Each piece required a detailed engagement with archive materials, existing historiographies and other related secondary material in order to reach a state I am terming “historical literacy”. From that state, an original creative response was then made in the form of playwriting. The thematic focus is on sexual and emotional intimacy between men, a topic which has, in terms of archival records, often been ignored, deliberately left coded, or even destroyed. Subsequent historicisations of the materials have frequently compounded this, mis/interpreting the few extant records with a heteronormative bias. I am exploring the extent to which playwriting can address this and the mechanisms by which it might do so and complementing my own exploration by interviewing six other leading screen and stage writers who have undertaken historical dramatisations about their processes.

The researching and writing of the plays acts as a form of inquiry into the dramaturgical, historiographical and expositional strategies involved in such writing. This was being documented, forming a record of the methodological approaches taken to such a task, and the plays themselves are evaluated as forms of historiographical enquiry. As approaches and techniques for archive-based creative writing emerge, I suggest a nomenclature for them. I am also proposing specific strategies for dealing with the absent, coded, and/or nullified record of intermale sexuality.

There are academic accounts of history plays featuring intermale sexuality, vocational texts on playwriting, and a growing body of work on performing heritage, the use and ethics of docudrama and queer dramaturgies. However, little addresses the history playwriting process methodologically and the detailed mechanics and historiographical implications of the playwright’s use of archive. I review the fields of narrative history, experiential archaeology and biography for applicable paradigms, and test my methodology against interviews with other writers. My aims are to provide insight into writing from archive generally, to illuminate the specific issues in the representation of intermale sexuality in a contested record of the past and to explore the case for the playwriting process from archive as a form of historiographical enquiry or, at least, as a disruptive challenge to pre-existing historical narratives.
Awarding Institution The University of Salford
Director of Studies Kate Adams
Second Supervisor Lucia Nigri