Flesh and the text: poststructural theory and writing research

Gannon, Susanne Marie (2003) Flesh and the text: poststructural theory and writing research. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Abstract

This thesis is an analysis and practice of writing otherwise in academia. It takes off from Barthes’ claim that “Science will become literature” (1989, p. 10) into a labyrinth of writing in different contexts and genres. In local and specific writing contexts, the author contrasts (social) scientific analytical writing with poetic, dramatic and autoethnographic writing to begin to generate theories about how different types of writing might work differently to construct different knowledges. Data from collective biography projects is re-presented as poetry and as a theatre script. Data from a professional development context becomes the launch pad for autoethnography. Sections of “creative” or “literary” writing are interspersed with theoretical and methodological analysis. The research methodologies of collective biography/ memorywork and autoethnography are interrogated in the light of poststructural theories on language. Poetry and drama are analysed as poststructural research and writing methodologies. The thesis is a risky journey into transgressive writing research. The linear narratives of research are disrupted as the thesis is organized as a series of detours into writing towards a conclusion that stresses the (im)possibilities of conclusions. Particular lines of flight through this thesis are the subject, the body and the other in writing. Poststructural perspectives on subjects emphasise their positionality (Foucault, 1972) and their mobility (Ferguson, 1993). Subjects are produced in particular spaces, places and times (Probyn, 2003) and this thesis attends to subjects-in-process in particular writing (con)texts. Writing is both the site and the practice of research. The body is pivotal in this thesis. All the texts produced in this thesis attend explicitly to the (female) body. The methodologies of collective biography/ memorywork (Davies et al., 2001; Haug, 1987), which provoked the poetic and dramatic writing in this thesis, begin with the body as the locus of knowledge. The particular research sites and texts of this thesis have given an overtly feminist cast to this textual body. My research colleagues have almost all been women and it is women’s embodied experiences that have been of interest to us. Research sites have ranged from Germany (where I was part of Project Area Body of the Internationale Frauenuniversität in 2000), to a community theatre company in my town, to a writing group around my kitchen table. The “other” is the third line of flight in this thesis and I use the concept of the other to trace how the writing in this thesis has been a collaborative practice, and an ethical practice where writing the other (otherwise) might be seen as a practice of love (Cixous, 1991; Somerville, 1999).

Item ID: 1201
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Writing in different contexts and genres, Scientific analytical writing, Poetic writing, Dramatic writing, How different types of writing might construct different knowledges, Collective biography, Autoethnography, Poststructural theories on language, Subjects, Positionality , Mobility, The body, Women’s embodied experiences
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2006
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2005 Literary Studies > 200525 Literary Theory @ 0%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2005 Literary Studies @ 0%
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