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Title: Dehiscence : reading, breath and step
Author: Wood, Michelle
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2017
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The dissertation offers its readers a model of how to bring together complex conceptual ideas with personal experience by exploring how reading, breath-orientated meditation and walking in nature may be transformative for self and writing. It is composed in two parts: first, a creative-writing piece — a novella titled Dehiscence — and second, a critical, theoretical piece titled Metaphors and Practices of Self-Becoming. The creative-writing component of the thesis enabled the writer to develop a model of self-becoming based on the metaphor of dehiscence. The critical approach explores how this model was developed and the theoretical ideas underpinning it. The model was in part conceived by the creative writer/researcher's engagement with the writings of Hélène Cixous, Virginia Woolf, Clarice Lispector, Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, Michele Foucault, Jean-Luc Nancy and certain Buddhist scholars, particularly twelfth-century Zen monk, Kuoan Shiyuan. These writers have described through a variety of forms processes of self-becoming and intellectual discovery. This thesis is particularly concerned with how they developed writing styles that accommodate original, personal and spiritual content. In a similar way to Nicholas Royle's employment of the metaphor of veering in his book Veering: A Theory of Literature to 'think afresh' and 'as a productive critical concept', I have chosen the botanical metaphor of dehiscence.1 Dehiscence is a movement whereby the seeds inside a plant grow towards and beyond the outer and encapsulating skin. In the context of this thesis, dehiscence becomes a critically productive metaphor that enables the researcher to slowly trace certain reading and growth journeys. These journeys are towards the edges of knowledge and experience in the hope of discovering something new. Royle writes that, by his sustained and rigorous application of veering as a metaphor in a wide variety of literary texts and genres, he disturbs presuppositions about the literal and the figurative, the physical and the psychological, the external and the internal, the literary and the real. An application of dehiscence as a reading metaphor does not so much seek to disturb, although disturbance may be an effect, but rather to attentively notice that which points beyond dualistic constructions. Twelfth-century Zen poem Ten Bulls depicts a story of spiritual dehiscence via the practice of solitary meditation. The poem and commentary are a model of poetic narration, as well as a source of insight and inspiration. Each poem sets the scene for reflections and analysis of how the practices of breath-orientated meditation, reading and walking in nature assist in the dehiscence of self. The overall arc of self-becoming that this thesis stretches towards in the critical component aims towards love, making it companionable with the narrative trajectory of the creative work. The thesis was developed through an experimental dialogue between creative and critical modes of inquiry. It invites its reader to adjust the lenses of creative and critical modes and to share in a process of unfolding evolution and in the development of a growing sense of awareness, literary embodiment and union.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PE English ; PR English literature