Historical Entries: Mass-Observation Diarists 1937-2001

Jolly, Margaretta (2001) Historical Entries: Mass-Observation Diarists 1937-2001. New Formations, 44. pp. 110-127. ISSN 09502378

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Diary writing was only one part of the original design of Mass-Observation and in some ways, its less flashy component. Yet the large group of volunteers who agreed between 1937 and 1945 to write about their everyday lives and environments for the public good was an inspired and perhaps even more original aspect of M-O than Tom Harrisson's team of radical amateur anthropologists. From the perspective of 1981 onwards, when the Mass-Observation project was revived, the interdisciplinarity and democratising of the academy this entailed seem extraordinarily prescient. In this article I will explore what these unpaid volunteers' relationship was to the challenge of providing an anthropology of ourselves and material for a study of the collective unconscious. How did they interpret their role? And what kind of writing did it produce? In the rich spectrum from private to public time, voice and mood that we will see emerging from the diaries, I will argue that the Mass-Observation worked in part through providing an opportunity to write, and in doing so, produced its own special genre of writing.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > Centre for Community Engagement
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research
Depositing User: Margaretta Jolly
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:47
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2018 15:55
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/28103
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