Seventeen: Ethics and Aesthetics

Sarah Shaw

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Abstract

My practice-led research in Creative Writing consists of composing a novel closely focalised through three members of a dual-heritage family in Suffolk in 2004 after the teenage daughter is diagnosed with leukaemia. ‘Seventeen: Ethics and Aesthetics’ explores the question: what are the tensions between truth, kindness and the form and poetics of the novel? My critical reflection considers techniques used to convince the reader, and my attempts to represent unconscious psychic processes of the novel’s protagonists in relation to trauma fiction. The aim of the research programme has been to discover the appropriate form for a novel in which characters are paramount. My research methodology has consisted of revising repeated drafts in order to imagine and articulate the points of view of the novel’s protagonists: Rosie, a mixed-race teenager who has a vivid sense of the ridiculous, who wants to separate herself from her family and mix with her friends; Jay, her White mother, who works in anti-racist education and has ambitions as a photographer, together with a tendency to embrace New Age ideas; and Mel, Rosie’s stepfather, who runs an independent cinema, who never intended to be anyone’s father but finds himself caught up in loving Rosie. The novel is about the language and voices used, and about how the relationships between the characters change as a result of Rosie’s illness and impending death. Writing a commentary has informed the discipline of editing and revision. My completed critical reflection recounts decisions made on ethical or aesthetic grounds, while attempting to relate the research to cultural preoccupations in the study and composition of novels. The originality of this contribution to knowledge consists of fiction that focalises three original characters. A claim to originality may also be made in relation to my work on metaphor, metonymy and the unconscious.
Original languageEnglish
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Green, Michael, Supervisor
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2014

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