The contemporary uncanny: An exploration through practice and reflection

Alexander, Jane (2018) The contemporary uncanny: An exploration through practice and reflection. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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My Creative Writing thesis comprises a collection of uncanny short stories that explores social, psychological and physical impacts of advances in science and technology, and a critical-reflective exegesis. Using a research methodology that critically examines insights emerging from creative and reflective practice, the thesis as a whole addresses the question of how the short story can be used as a particularly appropriate mode to illuminate contemporary experiences of science and technology through the creation of uncanny affect.

The exegesis offers a definition of contemporary uncanny fiction; the stories test a range of thematic, stylistic and formal strategies for achieving uncanny affect. The resulting creative work suggests a contemporary technological uncanny is one that develops and extends Freud’s conceptualisation of das Unheimliche.

Chapter 1 establishes the theoretical background to my practice research, providing a historical overview of the uncanny as a phenomenon and literary mode. Chapter 2 draws on Gothic and posthuman studies and psychoanalysis, and short stories by China Miéville, Nicholas Royle and Ali Smith, to explore the implications of insights emerging from my short stories: notions of an ‘uncanny of the virtual gaze’ and the body as site of impact for science and technology characterise a technological uncanny particular to our age, and comprise an original contribution to dialogues and debates theorizing a contemporary uncanny. Chapter 3 applies these notions to the practice of creative writing, to investigate the impact of its location in the academy. Finally, Chapter 4 extends existing narratological theory to suggest how second person is a particularly uncanny narrative mode, and examines issues of form, voice, structure and sequence to contend that short fiction is an especially effective form for the creation of uncanny affect – at the level of the individual story, and the collection as a whole.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: W800 Imaginative Writing
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2018 08:53
Last Modified: 30 Apr 2022 03:30

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