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Benbarrow: novel & process commentary

Holden, Angela Carol (2017) Benbarrow: novel & process commentary. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Benbarrow was initially conceived as a dual-perspective narrative, set in the period immediately preceding WWII. The main apparatus of study is a coming-of-age prose novel set in a rural inter-war context, for which the complementary research forms an integral part of the writing process. With a specific focus on ‘middlebrow’ fiction for women set in a period of history that broadly qualifies as being ‘within living memory’, the PhD thesis will articulate the insight this offers into the craft of creating a fiction text and will contribute to an understanding of the process of, and relationship between, research and creative writing. Following my MPhil-PhD transfer (Oct 2013) I explored the areas discussed in the profile of enquiry, guided by the advice of the transfer panel. My research was subsequently interrupted by personal factors, including family illness and bereavement, and the resignation by my DoS of his MMU post. These impacted on my studies, and I elected to suspend for twelve months. My return to studies enabled me to thoroughly review my enquiries to date, and to reconsider methodology and direction. Supported by my new DoS, Dr Paul Evans, I reconsidered my focus, developing previously ‘secondary’ characters and addressing the interactions and influences between a group of women of differing age, background and experience. I have also been encouraged to reflect on the ‘source’ potential of my wider writing interests, which include poetry and non-fiction and the ‘output’ impact of my learning on my teaching As a result, there have been significant changes in both the narrative and the “methodology, scale and parameters of study”. With revised emphasis on process and the way in which personal circumstances can influence the text, my thesis explores “the craft of creating a fiction text” and as discussed in my original proposal contributes to an understanding of the “relationship between research and creative writing”.

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