Current collaborative PhD projects in the field of creative arts in 2017.
Negotiating cultural identity in contemporary Australian and Scottish short fiction
Thesis title: Fairies of the North: Belief in early modern Orkney
Topic overview: This project seeks to produce an exegesis and historical fiction novel investigating the nature of fairy belief in Orkney, Scotland, during the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. Fairy belief was present in every aspect of peasant life in Orkney. Fairies were referred to as ‘good neighbours’, for they were believed to live alongside the folk in nearby hills, mounds, and tumuli left by prehistoric people (Marwick 1975). An inquiry into the past is also a journey into ‘another country’ where the beliefs and mindsets of past denizens were different to our own. This research will examine the mentality of those living in Orkney throughout the early modern period (1500-1800).
Haunted by use: Theories and aesthetic uses of post-industrial space and place
Thesis title: The menace of memory: transgenerational haunting of the queer adolescent
Topic overview: The development of queer identity in adolescence remains a fraught process in Australian culture, particularly in rural settings and even more so in historical contexts. By drawing on accounts of bonded servitude and the abuse of adolescents forcibly relocated to the shorelines of Australia during the 1840s, the proposed project critically examines, as well as gives voice to, this colonial queer subject; articulating their often-unspoken trauma and cultural dislocation. The significance of physical sites of such trauma as a locus for cultural memory leads to a consideration of such environments as haunted, in which personal identities form in dialogue with the histories that are embedded in both landscape and architecture. This project questions the ways in which the contemporary queer subject may be seen as haunted by transgenerational trauma, embedded within littoral landscapes and post-use architecture, which subvert the development of an agential subject position.
Representations of Wildness in Scottish and Australian Literature
Topic overview: In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Britain was transformed. The landscape was dominated by smoke stacks and communities were decimated by war. Large groups of the population became disconnected and displaced in relation to nature, family and place. The chasm between the interests of humankind, animals and the environment continues to widen in the twenty-first century. Writers attempt to negotiate this rapid change by questioning the role of the human in this landscape. Yet a conflict of identity emerges where the boundaries between animality and humanity becomes indistinct. Screenwriters seeking to move away from an anthropocentric view of nature towards a more ecological-based system of representation face challenges. This research will address the relationship between species by observing nature and the landscape, along with human and non-human interactions with it. This will result in an experimental screenplay, where form, aesthetics and expressive structures of language in the audio/ visual narrative will attempt to cross boundaries between nature, animal and human.