We are volcanoes: writing feminist fiction as a means of processing trauma

Crosse, Z (2023) We are volcanoes: writing feminist fiction as a means of processing trauma. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

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This thesis comprises a work of feminist fiction - the novel We Are Volcanoes - and a contextualising commentary. The two should be read together as a piece of practice-led research answering the question: can writing a feminist novel change the writer's affective experience of personal trauma? The main objective of this thesis is to explore the idea that trauma- what is felt and experienced as a result of a traumatic event - is transformable through the act of poiesis, or creating something new. In addition, I explore the idea that in an instance of politically situated trauma, like gender-based violence, the perspective of a relevant political movement, feminism, is necessary to that transformation. The novel takes the form of a conversation between four generations of women in the same family, and explores themes of intergenerational trauma, violence against women, and the importance of listening to women when they speak about their experiences. The contextualising commentary is a necessarily personal piece, documenting my process of conceiving and writing the novel, and the experimental journey of observing whether that process changed my affective experience of trauma. Chapter One of the contextualising essay defines feminism, feminist fiction and trauma for the purpose of my research. Chapter Two is a reflection on my taking in of other people's trauma stories, how this affected me and what happened alchemically when these were added to my own experiences of trauma. Chapter Three is an exploration in the process of publicly telling a trauma story, and a brief consideration of how other artists have done this through artworking. Chapter Four documents my realisation that the novel needed to be multi-voiced, and discusses the therapeutic practice of creating imaginal dialogues and their potential as a method for accessing voice and character writing. Chapters Five to Eight each focus on one of the four main characters of We Are Volcanoes, closely considering what aspect of my self and my trauma I explored and processed through the writing of that particular character. I conclude with an account of what has changed in relation to my affective experience of trauma, and my hopes that this research can contribute to the cultural work of feminism. This research is closely focussed on my own experiences and processes in writing fiction about trauma, however there is potential for further research exploring other styles and genres of writing, as well as other writers' and, in fact, readers' experiences.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)

The document attached to this record is the contextualising research section of the thesis only. It does not include the creative component, which is the manuscript for the novel, 'We Are Volcanoes'.

Keywords: PhD by Practice, creative writing, trauma stories, feminism, gender-based violence, intergenerational trauma, political movements, feminist fiction, therapeutic writing, dialogue, characterisation
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.17870/bathspa.00015405
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2023 11:36
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2024 18:39
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/15405
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