Influence and originality in the creative writing process

Slater, Mark Everard (2014) Influence and originality in the creative writing process. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Using an approach that distinguishes between the epistemologies of critical theory and creative practice, this study investigates notions of originality and influence in literary theory and considers their applicability to the teaching of creative writing and creative writing practice. It argues that current paradigms offer limited and contradictory explanations of these phenomena and makes the case that, through the assimilation of recent philosophical and scientific perspectives into a framework of socially-situated theory, a fresh approach can be developed that acknowledges the embodied experience of the writing process.
The study consists of two main research areas: qualitative and literary/theoretical. The literary/theoretical research falls into two strands of enquiry that are closely linked and run parallel to each other throughout the thesis. One strand is concerned with the need to find an ontological structure for creative writing that accommodates practical and theoretical approaches and provides a conceptual framework that allows issues of originality and influence to be seen from both inside the writing process and from an external theoretical perspective. The second strand, evolving within the former, analyses notions of originality and influence historically and more specifically within romanticism and the socially situated theory of Mikhail Bakhtin.
The qualitative research was designed to offer a practical and experiential set of findings that could be used to guide the theoretical research. In this research project, using a phenomenological methodology, a group of part-time adult creative writing students (14 participants) were asked to reflect on their perception and experience of originality and influence in the writing process. Their responses were returned in the form of questionnaires and the findings were collated into fourteen key themes.
The theoretical research contextualizes the study within debates with student writers in writing workshop sessions about issues of influence and originality in critical peer review. After a discussion of the pedagogic and theoretical issues that these debates generated, including an analysis of the impact of romanticism on contemporary notions of creativity and a survey of developments in pedagogic theory in creative writing, the literary/theoretical research goes on to explore notions of originality and influence in the work of Bakhtin and romanticism in greater detail. It develops a critique of Bakhtin’s socially-situated theory of creativity and argues that this is due to a weakness in the ontological premises of Bakhtin’s conceptual framework. Moving to a study of romanticism it proposes that Bakhtin’s socially-situated theory fails to fully understand or assimilate embodied emotionality into its ontology and that the embodied emotionality in romanticism, when seen through a more contemporary paradigm of embodied realism reveals the shortcomings in socially-situated theory.
The final section on embodied realism and the impact of neuroscience on studies of the body and emotionality argues for a fresh ontological perspective, which would resolve the paradoxical nature of the relationship between an epistemic, socially constructed view of reality and a more biologically determined notion of human nature.
In the discussion of key findings and in the conclusion to the research the thesis shows how, by adopting the ontological perspective of embodied realism and incorporating it into socially-situated theory, new perspectives on originality, influence and creativity can be developed that fully integrate epistemologies of theory and practice, and offer a grounded theoretical position from which to construct a viable pedagogy for creative writing. Finally, the thesis offers ideas

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2014 11:08
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2015 15:19

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