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Bone seeds: the creation of a novel from an interdisciplinary writing practice, in dialogue with Walter Benjamin's Denkbild, to reimagine narratives of aftermath.

Simpson, Penelope Claire (2019) Bone seeds: the creation of a novel from an interdisciplinary writing practice, in dialogue with Walter Benjamin's Denkbild, to reimagine narratives of aftermath. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the interdisciplinary research methodology I have devised to write an experimental novel about conflict and its aftermath. It is an innovative methodology that forges dialogue between the disciplines of visual arts and forensic science to create an ambitious new fiction model that responds to the representational vacuum left in the wake of historic acts of enforced disappearance and clandestine burial. I begin with an analysis of my conceptual framework, foregrounded in the creation of the metonymic literary construction of the labyrinth-grave using the paradigm of Denkbild. The wider connotations of the labyrinth-grave are assessed through a re-imagining of Walter Benjamin’s concept of Denkbild to create a key framing device: the bone seed. In my novel buried, the bone seeds (textual fragments) act as ciphers of deeper cultural and political concerns, which underpin an overarching narrative about three artist-makers whose live are connected through a clandestine grave in post-Franco Spain. The bone seeds form a palimpsest structure which enables the telling of many stories of enforced disappearance over an extended period of time. I discuss how I construct the bone seed as metaphor through drawing on the research methodologies of contemporary visual artists and the ground-breaking identification procedures followed by forensic and social anthropologists. The form of the bone seed is inspired by John Berger’s concept of poetry as an “assembly point,” a chiasmus, or montage, of influences. I demonstrate how I translate this concept into my novel through engaging with the experimental praxis of Modernist writers, in particular through an imaginative editing of recurring motifs and atmospheres, rather than through chronological narrative. Finally, I discuss how my research methodology might open the way for further experiment and collaboration with artists, scientists and lawyers interested in foregrounding the catalyst role of fiction in transitional settings.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: transitional justice; Walter Benjamin; creative writing; art and forensics; Guernica; Spain
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Penelope Simpson
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2019 12:37
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2019 12:37
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/24979

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