Emma Geen – Creative Writing, Bath Spa University
Emma’s critical project draws together interdisciplinary research to argue that reading is an embodied process, in which readers simulate characters within their own embodiment and that this can be thought of as a form of empathy.
Emma’s creative project is a magical realist novel with postcolonial themes and fairies, about a girl who stops speaking and finds her life dramatically altered as people start telling her stories for her. It explores a wide range of issues related to bodies and embodiment, including how narratives shape bodies (including notions about the sorts of bodies we consider worthy of empathy) but also how the power of narrative is grounded in the body. In this way it asks whether narratives are a form of violence/power struggle played out on the body and whether this is ever escapable.
James Aaron Green – English, University of Exeter
James’s project considers the connections between the Victorian sensation novel and physiology. Specifically, it addresses these issues through attention to the tropes of delay, disruption and hesitation.
This focus, pursued with regards to the reading experience, publication history and other areas is intended to nuance the typical reading of the genre’s frantic action as a metonym for the accelerating pace of Victorian life. In its place, this project hopes to suggest that the sensation novel articulates a more ambivalent form of modernity that is consistent with its status as a genre that was both culturally conscious and yet resistant to its norms.
Andy Jones – Philosophy, Cardiff University
Andy’s research contrasts the philosophy of the 18th Century German Idealist Immanuel Kant with philosophy of biology from both a contemporary and historical perspective. Kant argues that judging an appearance as an organism is depended on that judgment, thus the organism can only be said to exist for that judgment. Hence Andy’s research looks how Kant’s philosophy can elucidate aspects of contemporary philosophy of biology such as ‘what is an organism?’
Andy is interested in the potential overlap between conceptions of organisms and embodiment and having the opportunity to collaborate alongside researchers from other disciplines and universities.
Joan Passey – English, University of Exeter
Joan’s research focuses on the use of the Cornish landscape and people as recurrent motifs in late nineteenth century Gothic literature. In attempting to define a ‘Cornish Gothic’, in relation to existing models of Irish, Scottish, and Welsh Gothic, she hope to create a new lens through which to view the relationship between Celticism, antiquarianism, and the Gothic, as well as a framework through which to understand the way regionality functions in nineteenth century literature.
Specifically, Joan is exploring Gothicised travel, travel narratives, and specifically Gothic coasts. In looking at the way travel is represented as monstrous, and borders and boundaries dissolve in response to theories of degeneration, she hopes to identify a recurrent manifestation of the Cornish as barbarous ‘reverse colonisers’. In this way, her research involves monstrous, degenerating, and dissolving bodies, how they move through space, how concepts of regionality impact individual and communal bodies, and how bodies interact with landscape.
Daniel Carpenter – Human Geography, University of Exeter
Daniel’s research focuses on the embodied skills of traditional craftspeople, looking at the ways in which skilled makers overcome a reliance on purely discursive knowledges by attending to the agency of their materials, and how these epistemological considerations are understood by both craftspeople and learners.
As part of his project, Daniel is developing immersive fieldwork methodologies with a series of craftspeople, including, amongst others, green woodworkers, basketmakers and textile producers.
Jacob Lucas – Philosophy, University of Exeter
Jacob’s project explores how one might philosophically defend the traditional Buddhist belief in rebirth. Traditionally, Buddhists have held the view that the mental continuum of thoughts, feelings, intentions and consciousness becomes embodied throughout multiple lives. This view can be used to motivate practitioners on the Buddhist path, known as the eightfold path, which includes practices such as mindfulness.
Given that mindfulness is being increasingly practiced and taught in secular contexts, Jacob is looking at whether the secular mindfulness practitioner might be warranted in taking rebirth seriously. In this respect he is interesting in questions regarding the relationship between the subjective, experiential, and the objective, physical, aspects of the person. How are thoughts, feeling, intentions and consciousness embodied in the biological and physical processes of the body?
Ellena Deeley – English, University of Exeter
Using the lenses of globalization theory, critical disability studies and postcolonial studies, Ellena’s thesis will analyse representations of conjoined twins in literature and screen media produced in a variety of national contexts during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. It will suggest that the proliferation of representations of conjoined twins in a variety of media forms since the last decades of the twentieth century might be productively read in relation to shifting conceptions of subjectivity and social connectedness under globalisation. The thesis will explore how contemporary representations of conjoined twins raise questions concerning the relationship between norms of individual subjectivity, corporeal autonomy and larger social, economic, political and geo-political orders. It will ask how narratives concerning conjoinment might reiterate and shape national and transnational discourses about corporeality, identity, political subjectivity, citizenship and economic rationality.
Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, the thesis will span across a variety of media and genres – from transnational and postcolonial fiction to medical ‘reality’ television and serialized television drama. To contextualise the discussion of literary and screen media texts, it will also consider electronic news media and medical case histories. As such, the project will investigate how conjoined twins are constructed across a variety of different discursive sites, including canonical postcolonial literature, the mass media and biomedicine. It will examine convergences and contrasts in the way conjoined bodies are produced across different discursive contexts and mediums.
Alex Morden Osborne – English, University of Bristol
Alex’s project examines anxiety in contemporary American literature from 1990-present, with a particular focus on the work of Paul Auster, Siri Hustvedt, Junot Díaz, and David Foster Wallace. Adopting a phenomenological methodology, Alex’s research interprets anxiety as a form of psycho-physical pain that alters, challenges, and disrupts the narrative of texts. With this in mind, Alex’s research aims to develop a theory of literary anxiety – how is anxiety expressed in literature? How does anxiety interact with the temporality, language, and form of texts? How might anxiety in literature operate at an intra- and extra-textual level – that is to say, how does it affect the reader?
These questions are attended to through a focus on illness narratives and the blurring of fictional boundaries; anxiety in short stories and the metaphorical invocation of masks in this form; anxiety and Latino masculinity; and the relationship between anxiety, technology, and time.