On Barley Hill; method-writing and spectral landscapes in the supernatural Gothic horror novel

Bowman, Rowan France Wynne (2016) On Barley Hill; method-writing and spectral landscapes in the supernatural Gothic horror novel. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral Thesis)
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This thesis discusses the relationship between spectral landscapes and supernatural Gothic horror writing. The research is practice-led and focuses on method-writing as a way to translate landscape experience into creative writing, developing a more-than-representational approach to knowledge production. This research occurs through the making of the novel On Barley Hill and is set in context of contemporary supernatural Gothic horror writers. The aim of the research is to establish a better understanding of the use of creative writing in and about landscape, with a particular interest in using this literary genre to understand and express ecological threats over landscapes local to the writer.

The original contribution to knowledge is in the use of method-writing as an effective technique for knowledge production about landscape. The investigation into the efficacy of the supernatural Gothic horror genre to explore threatened landscapes and my choice to use genre to distance myself from an autobiographical account of being-in-the-landscape are both pieces of original research. The method-writing in this project resulted in the production of a dolls’ house and my research into dollshousing to explore a previously unexamined space is also an original contribution to knowledge.

The methodology is primarily one of method-writing which, like method acting, is used to gather information through physical experience. This methodology involves play, rehearsal, skill development through craftwork and practical experience to find the story in the landscape.

The results of the research suggest that method-writing is an effective way in which to produce knowledge and understanding of landscape. However, although supernatural Gothic horror is a useful way to explore the spaces of human habitation, it is less effective at addressing concerns over the wider environment because of the inherent differences in our perception of ghosts and spectres. This is discussed in terms of current landscape theories and Derrida’s work on hauntology. Method-writing within a local area leads to a tension between the requirements of truthful depiction and an objective distance from autobiography and this research has confirmed that the conscious inclusion of autobiographical details is an inevitable part of method-writing and also a fundamental ingredient of the contemporary Gothic. The tertiary enquiry into the craft of making miniatures has established that the social space of dollshousing can be useful for the exploration of a particular set of circumstances hitherto relatively unexamined.

In conclusion, the experience of being-in-a-landscape with the attention required for the process of method-writing leads to creative writing which is effective in communicating and disseminating the value of that landscape.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: hauntology, non-representational, spectre, ghost, play
Subjects: Q300 English studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 20 May 2022 07:32
Last Modified: 20 May 2022 08:01
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/49157

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