Michael Askew’s CHASE-funded doctoral thesis, supervised by Dr Thomas Karshan and Dr Jeremy Noel-Tod, examines the idea of the 'lyric essay', a term first coined by John D'Agata and Deborah Tall to describe a recent trend in contemporary nonfiction towards the blending of the essay and the lyric poem. Michael's thesis attempts to determine the usefulness of this term by combining a sustained consideration of the meaning of the term itself with an extended close reading of the main essayists who often fall under its remit. Its focus is both conceptual, in its theorisation of a particular term, and historical, in its contextualisation of contemporary writers within the longer traditions of the lyric and the essay. It includes chapters on writers including Maggie Nelson, Anne Carson and Annie Dillard.
Al Bell is a CHASE-funded PhD student, supervised by David Nowell-Smith and Jeremy Noel-Tod, working on contemporary poetry and the concept of constraint. The project follows the poetics of several poets, including M. Norbese Philip, Denise Riley, Anne Carson and Lisa Robertson, whose writing puts pressure on the habitual configuration between open forms, formal freedom and political emancipation. It also considers how formal constraints might be understood as generative rather than limiting, taking interest in philosophies that think about determination without determinism. In this light, the project explores the affordances of what Jacques Rancière calls the aesthetic regime, the historical framework by which Art is intelligible, whose effects have often been maligned as an ideological mystification by certain avant-gardes and academic criticism. Here the thesis intersects, sceptically, with the structure of feeling that animates so-called “postcritique”.
Rosalind Brown is in the second year of a UEA-funded creative-critical PhD exploring the relationships between discipline, intensity and the novella. Her creative project comprises two linked novellas exploring a young woman's attempts to realise her various fantasies of lived discipline – self-directed, scholarly, externally imposed, sexual – and the intensity this produces. Her critical project argues that the novella form is often made to stand in contemporary literary discourse as a paragon of ‘disciplined’ and ‘intense’ writing; the project will interrogate what these terms mean and why the novella particularly seems to attract these descriptors. She is also co-organising, with fellow PhD student Olivia Heal, a symposium for March 2019 on the poetics of small-press fiction, to complement UEA’s sponsorship of the Republic of Consciousness Prize.
Deborah Giggle’s doctoral project explores how writers from the social periphery have represented issues of class through the depiction of characters 'above' them on the social scale. Focusing on the period from 1880 to 1910, she is keen to reverse the traditional trajectory for analysis of work by socially-marginalised writers. Instead of focusing on the outputs of the British class system (working-class characters and representations of working-class life), this thesis aims to shine a light into the workings of the machine itself (the various pressures that the class system brought to bear across society, and how they were applied) from the viewpoint of those entangled in its machinery.
Charlotte Hallahan is a doctoral candidate (supervised by Dr Matthew Taunton and Prof Lyndsey Stonebridge) researching women’s literature, personal writings, and psychoanalysis during the Second World War and at the beginnings of the welfare state. She has a particular interest in the relationships between citizenship, belonging, and contemporary cultural production. She is currently thinking about how Melanie Klein’s wartime clinical writings reflect broader discourses on the family and homosexuality percolating at the time. Her research also involves working with wartime diaries and dream journals held at the Mass Observation archives and the Imperial War Museum.
Robin Hobbs is a part-time postgraduate researcher who is supervised across the LDC and AMA faculties by Dr Stephen Benson and Dr Jonathan Mitchell. Robin’s research engages with contemporary science fiction and fantasy literature in order to trace the emergence of subject positions that can be considered post-phallogocentric. Grounded in feminist theory, his project draws on the work of Donna Haraway, Hélène Cixous and Rosi Braidotti in particular, to explore the textual spaces crafted contrary to the gendered structures of cultural meaning, together with the devices used to render these spaces, from posthumanism to historical revisionism. Robin’s research interests include: feminist linguistic theory, gender and sexuality, masculinities, and feminist technoscience.
Hippolyta Paulusma is a CHASE-funded PhD student (supervised by Dr. Stephen Benson) researching the influence of folk singing on the prose of Angela Carter. For 15 years Paulusma has been a recording artist, releasing indie-folk records on One Little Indian Records and her own Wild Sound label under the name "Polly Paulusma". She teaches undergraduates at Cambridge University, from where she is an alumna and where she currently lives, with a particular focus on projects investigating intersections between literature and song. She regularly gives papers on her ongoing research at conferences and events in the UK, and has contributed a chapter to a forthcoming book about Angela Carter’s multimodal influences.
Samantha Purvis is writing a doctoral thesis on the relationship between literary institutions and the aesthetics of contemporary British fiction. Examining the discourses of aesthetic value and categorisation promulgated by creative writing degrees, publishers, prizes and the literary press, this research project asks how contemporary fiction theorises and resists the terms of its own production and reception. Ali Smith—an author whose public persona relies on a complex and frequently ambivalent relationship to literary institutions—emerges as a central figure; her play with aesthetic failure throws into sharp relief the contours of academic and demotic discourses on experimentation, modernism, and “good writing”.
Matti Ron is a faculty-funded PhD student supervised by Professor Anshuman Mondal and Dr Matthew Taunton. His research focuses on working-class representation as both a literary and political practice and the interrelations between them from the 1926 General Strike to the 1978-79 ‘Winter of Discontent’. His work looks at working-class fiction and its engagement with literary avant-gardism, theorising their relationship in connection to corresponding trends regarding representation and containment in the workers’ movement. Understanding working-class composition as itself historically contingent and highly mutable, his research conceives of working-class fiction as reflective of this variability and heterogeneity, analysing clusters of texts from the 1930s proletarian literature milieu, the ‘Angry Young Men,’ black British literature and 1970s feminist fiction. He is also co-chair of the electoral committee of the Working-Class Studies Association.
Surya Simon is a second year UEA-funded PhD student (supervised by Professor Anshuman Mondal and Professor Alison Donnell) currently researching the possibility of a performative theory of caste. Surya’s thesis aims to understand the role of caste and Dalit identity from the perspective of performance studies by analysing select Dalit personal narratives from South India. Some of the ideas she attempts to understand are embodied writing, literary activism, generic performativity, and role of religion in forming and transforming Dalit identity. As part of her thesis, she plans to take interviews of translators and authors to understand Dalit identity in translation. Surya’s academic interests include Dalit studies and Dalit literature, postcolonial studies, life writing, gender studies, critical race theory, and critical theory.
Joanna Walsh is a CHASE-funded PhD candidate in Creative and Critical writing, supervised by Clare Connors and Jeremy Noel-Tod. Her research interests include digital literature, experimental writing, posthumanism, cyberfeminism, affect theory, AI, and gender. Her creative submission for her PhD, a digital text, Seed, was created in collaboration with the publisher Visual Editions/Editions at Play, and Google Creative Lab. Seed was shortlisted for the Europe-wide Lovie Internet Awards in the 'Innovation and Experimental' category. Walsh is the author of six other books of fiction and nonfiction. Her publishers include Semiotext(e), Tuskar Rock, And Other Stories, Bloomsbury and Dorothy. In 2017 she received the Arts Foundation Fellowship in Literature.