Writing not drowning: an examination of the issues discussed in the novel Summer of Love, and of the creative and contextual research supporting its creation

Bush, T.N (2016) Writing not drowning: an examination of the issues discussed in the novel Summer of Love, and of the creative and contextual research supporting its creation. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.


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This PhD submission consists of a novel, 'The Summer of Love', and a supporting thesis. Together, novel and thesis comprise and address the research inquiry underpinning the novel's creation, namely: how is it possible to write fiction exploring political issues, the UK Government's treatment of disabled people and the associated stigmatisation of welfare dependents, without flattening the story or appearing partisan or divisive? Is it possible for this novelist to capture difficult truths from the political and social landscape in prose that combines humour with insight? 'The Summer of Love' is a darkly satirical novel in which Alex, a disabled journalist fallen on hard times, uncovers a story that could link the govenment to a euthanasia programme targeting disabled, elderly and vulnerable people. During her investigation, she inadvertently becomes part of the Ladies' Defective Agency, a group of disabled women running a phone sex company which, in turn, may or may not be fronting for the underground activist gang, BOUDICCA. Alex and her guide dog, Chris, must negotiate a world where anyone reliant on any form of welfare is pilloried, scapegoated and a potential target of hate crime, in order to bring the uncomfortable truth to an oblivious society. The novel intends to bring forward challenging ideas about compassion, human rights and equality, about disability and normalcy, reflecting my/our worst nightmares about the current welfare changes and their impact on disabled and vulnerable people. Following extensive research and experiment, several key creative techniques are specified and applied including: 1) Immersion in historical texts in order to write scenarios and characters that would create a resonance with the T4Aktion plans for Nazi Germany 2) Conscientious development of a fully rounded, three dimensional disabled protagonist, in order to reflect our shared human experience and not just a 'disabled' experience 3) The use of satire and humour to create further narrative empathy through a shared, cathartic response of laughter followed by understanding and 4) Employment of the notion of 'protective fictionality', allowing the reader to escape into a slightly more fantastical 'Other England', where they can imaginatively inhabit the minds of animals as well as people. This was done in the hope that a more relaxed reader would be a more amenable, empathic and absorbed one. By applying these creative tactics, I hope, 'The Summer of Love' creates strong narrative empathic connections with its readers that may lead to a greater understanding of the current climate of hostility and shame faced by vulnerable and disabled people in the UK today, whilst at the same time providing an entertaining and exhilarating read.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)

The document attached to this record is the contextualizing research section of the thesis only. It does not include the creative component, which is the manuscript for the novel 'The Summer of Love'. The novel was published under the title 'Cull' by Unbound in 2019.

Thesis supervised by Maggie Gee.

Keywords: creative writing, creative-critical, disability studies, partially-sighted characters in fiction, blindness, guide dogs, human rights, hate crime, satire, social policy, social security benefits, 21st century, UK, World War II, Nazi Germany
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.17870/bathspa.00007762
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 12 May 2016 16:13
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2023 13:32
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/7762
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