|Project lead||Dr Sherezade García Rangel|
|Start date||6 September 2019|
On The Hill is a project and podcast about the history of Cornish cemeteries and what the literary podcast form can do when combining academic and history research, creative writing and discussions about creative practice and who do the stories buried in ancient cemeteries belong to. This project also seeks to discover what the remediation of creative writing practice can achieve through the use of the podcast format, run by Dr Sherezade García Rangel, a former Lecturer in English & Creative Writing at the School of Communication. Her research focused on the narratives of objects and death, and examined how immersive experiences inspired by them can lead to new understandings of our relationship with both. This project aims to reassemble the stories of people and places, helping us to understand the present by looking at the past through original writing.
As built environments for death, mourning and for holding space for the departed, cemeteries have long been linked to storytelling which tenderly walks the line between historical and fiction.
Creative responses to stories inspired by or about cemeteries demonstrate the engaging, moving spectrum that immersive storytelling of the departed can achieve (Perthi Kov, 2017; Richards, 2004; Saunders, 2018; Wild Works, 2018).
Through immersive narrative non-fiction, historical research, immersive audio and original writing, On The Hill analyses who these stories belong to, how our collective memory engages with lives long lost, why we build cemeteries and how we remain present/dormant after death. This combination illuminates new aspects of our realities by examining the legacies of the past.
Each life reveals a moment in history and ties back to the construction of the cemetery, allowing the exploration of human experience and what it means to be departed. The legacies signalled by the gravestones in Cornish cemeteries provoke questions and identify learnings we can carry forward. Season One explores Falmouth Cemetery.
Led by Dr Sherezade García Rangel as the creator, producer, principal researcher and writer, editor and host of the On The Hill podcast, this project featured original writing from a host of talented writers associated with the School of Writing and Journalism. This season's contributing writers include:
- Dr Amy Lilwall – researcher and writer for Episode 02 about Mary Monk and Episode 06 about Countess Ellen Odette
- A J Dalton – researcher and writer for Episode 01 about Sir John Alleyne and Episode 05 about Henry Philip Creese, a deck engineer in the Titanic.
- Anna Kiernan – writer for Episode 04 about local artist Winnifred Freeman
- Dr Jennifer Young – writer for Episode 07 about the last mail coach guard in Falmouth, William Bilkey
- Falmouth graduate Alex Horn is a voice actor for On The Hill and another graduate, C F Sherratt designed the podcast logo. Local band We Are Muffy sing the podcast's theme song, Precious Things. Dr Sherezade García Rangel's writing is featured in Episode 03 about Chung Shin and Episode 08 about Miśko Molnár.
On The Hill works with We Love Falmouth Cemetery to promote the knowledge of this built landscape and the recognition of its local history. Future seasons will examine other cemeteries in Cornwall.
Outcomes & outputs
Described as 'a brilliant gem of a podcast' and an 'absolute highlight in podcast land' On The Hill project has produced a wide range of outcomes briefly discussed below.
2019-20 Season One: Falmouth Cemetery
Currently live and in production, this season includes 8 original podcast episodes retelling the story of Falmouth Cemetery and those buried there, making connections to the history of Falmouth, Cornwall and the world and discussing its present. Each episode features original writing, historical research, sound design and practice interviews, and tells the story of someone buried in Falmouth Cemetery. The podcast is researched and produced locally.
2020 Literary Podcast talks
This year, Dr Sherezade García Rangel has given talks in the Department of Writing and Journalism Guest Speaker series (February, 2020) and in the Stay-At-Home Lit Fest (April, 2020) on the literary podcast and the remediation of creative writing practice into the established practice of a podcaster.
2019 Folk Horror Conference
Dr Amy Lilwall and Dr Sherezade García Rangel discussed the process of making episode 02 for the On The Hill podcast as a contribution to the Folk Horror Conference (Falmouth, 2019). Episode 01 was launched on the conference.
Impact & recognition
Since its launch at the Folk Horror Conference in September 2019, the On The Hill podcast has reached over 1,000 downloads, becoming a place for writers and the wider community to discuss history, death and how we relate to those no longer living. Undergraduates students have participated in psychogeographical walks in Falmouth Cemetery and this project is enabling the podcast form to be featured in modules in Falmouth University's Department of Writing and Journalism.
The stories in the On The Hill podcast has been retold in the International Women's Day Falmouth Cemetery History Walks (March 2019). Dr Sherezade García Rangel was invited to discuss the podcast in local radio station SourceFM (March 2019) and her connection to Falmouth Cemetery featured on Patches of Land by SoundArt. She also gave a talk about literary podcast and participated in a discussion on collaborative writing for the Stay-At-Home Lit Fest (April, 2020). An episode of On The Hill is due to be featured in the 9th International Digital Storytelling Conference at Loughborough University (currently postponed due to COVID-19).