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Laura Swithenbank

LAHRI Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Areas of expertise
Experimental writing, culture, heritage, affect, culture in the north of England
Clothworkers South Building, University of Leeds Campus
Arts, Humanities and Cultures
Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute

I am a LAHRI Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Museum and Heritage Studies at the University of Leeds. Prior to this I worked in the arts sector on collaborative projects with a range of people and organisations in St Helens, Merseyside. I undertook my MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies at The University of Leeds and a BA in English Literature at Leeds Metropolitan University (now Leeds Beckett).

I completed my PhD (available here) in 2022 in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds. My thesis is titled ‘Relaying Inheritance: writing affective and possible working-class presents in the north of England’. Thinking from my positionality as a working-class person from Barnsley (South Yorkshire), my thesis worked with multiple kinds of inheritances and affective activity in order to produce a more expansive mode of engaging with working-class culture. In my thesis I suggest an alternative genre for engaging with working-class life in academic practice and beyond named ‘affective realism’.

During the course of the thesis, I undertook research with members of a Working Men’s’ club in Huddersfield producing a short collection of prose poems in recognition of their hundredth anniversary. My thesis is experimental in form, with each chapter approaching the question of collective worldmaking and ways of knowing via different modes, registers and tones.

My Research

My current research focuses on extending the work of my thesis in relation to expanding and continuing to work with ‘affective realism’ as a genre for writing about working-class life. I continue to work with experimental form in my writing and - alongside Dr Helen Graham and others in The Hundreds reading and writing group – am looking towards developing a community of practice around questions of form, experimentation and affect.

At present I am working towards developing my thesis project into a monograph.