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Difficult Fun: Fairground as heritage, heritage as fairground

Trowell, Ian (2017) Difficult Fun: Fairground as heritage, heritage as fairground. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the British travelling fairground as a unique tradition and ongoing practice of the past, present and future, to create a wider dialogue with our understanding of heritage practices. The fairground is approached as a complex assemblage of objects and affects that has a sinuous historical trail, making its relationship to heritage practices a valuable insight in the wider environment of embracing our past. A key aspect of my work looks at, listens to, and explores the fairground and develops a detailed ontology of objects that set off a network of affects, making a major contribution to how the fairground is understood. This is then set out in a diachronic arrangement as the essence of change is investigated, understood as overlapping cycles connected to the content of the fairground, the space of the fairground, the music of the fairground, and the close synergy between accelerated popular culture and the visual presentation of the fairground. Central to this is the audience demographic, and the issue of when we most appreciate the fairground, and when we no longer feel a part of the fairground. This provides an understanding of our heritage seeking behaviour and expectations. Heritage of the fairground is identified in five key contexts: the static museum collection, the steam rally movement, the specialist vintage travelling fair, the living museum (examples that incorporate a period fairground), and the specific re-creation of a seaside amusement park. These heritage efforts are investigated with site reports analysed using a wide toolbox: spatial practice, situational aesthetics, textual analysis, and audience granularity (including the protagonist who sets up and controls the collection). Drawing on and synthesising the fieldwork from the fairground heritage sectors, I present case studies around notions of authenticity, vernacular flows, space and building, and future planning considerations. The thesis concludes by illuminating points of dialogue to the wider heritage field, addressing the growing uncertainty around the convergence of the museum and the theme park.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Architecture (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr Ian Trowell
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2018 08:45
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2018 08:45
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20526

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