We would like to invite you to attend the Confirmation Presentation of Ian Weber, Doctor of Philosophy candidate in School of School of Business and Creative Industries
Autocorrect: Writing Autobiography as an Agent of Social Change and Transformative Practice
This PhD thesis includes two interrelated components: creative work and exegesis. The creative part involves writing a 75,000-word, 14 chapter novel, titled "Apted Park", which focuses on the broader social justice issues of domestic violence, gender inequality and freedom within a microcosm of a volatile love triangle. The 35,000-word exegetical dissertation accompanying the creative component investigates the interaction and interplay between the writer, the text and the reader of the autobiographical work.
The project draws on the seminal work of French social theorist Jacques Derrida to layout the theory-practice relationship. It focuses explicitly on Derrida's challenge of structuralist thinking and the resulting emphasis on the importance of the practice of writing and its relationship to language and meaning. The theory-practice review identifies two critical aspects of Derrida's wide-ranging discussions on the topic – 1) sign, structure and play and 2) deconstruction. This examination leads to a debate on the role of writing as a transformative act through revolutionary practice that engages with critical aspects of argument and rhetoric. The thesis also reviews the literature of Speech Act Theory and its applicability to social activism as a tangible outcome of Derrida's revolutionary practice by addressing these components and associated critiques of Derrida's work on textuality and discursivity.
The literature review focuses on the practice of writing an autobiography as a sub-genre of biographical writing. A review of the literature presents discussions on writing creative non-fiction and traditional approaches to writing autobiographies. Acknowledging Derrida's critique of "truth", the literature review engages with fictionalised autobiographic texts that use a fictional character as a first-person narrator depicting internal and external experiences. Addressing the notions of what is fact and what is fiction in the novel is an important one when considering how such aspects manifest in contemporary autobiographical writing, such as autofiction and autobiografiction. Of specific interest for this creative project is autobiografiction, whereby the writer incorporates more significant elements of fiction into the facts-based structure to address the ethical and legal issues surrounding the telling of the life story.
One of the critical aspects emerging from the literature review of autobiographic writing and research is the methodological challenge associated with acknowledging the reader of autobiographies in analytical treatments that focus predominantly on the writer/narrator and the text. This study seeks to address this imbalance by applying a multi-method approach to exploring the interplay between the three components of the writer, the written and the reader (referred to as the "3Rs"). The practice-led methodology employs the methods of a self-reflective practice in the writing of "Apted Park" (the writer), a rhetorical analysis of the mimetic/diegetic voices in "Apted Park's synecdoche, metonym and metaphor narratives (the written) and the deconstruction of the autobiografiction discourse in "Apted Park" (the reader). The study uses analytical processes of triangulated data and grounded theory to identify the relationship between the writer, the written text and the reader's interpretation of the lived experience.
This study aims to extend the autobiographical pact beyond the poetic construct to tangible social interaction by identifying ways creative writing can contribute as an agent of social change and activism on social justice issues, such as domestic violence, gender inequality and freedom. The creative-research design explores ways of moving the discussion on autobiographical writing from the interpretivist perspective of constructing and deconstructing the text's meaning to the critical humanist perspective. The data generated from the creative work becomes a catalyst for potentially wide-ranging change on social justice issues through transformative practice.
Dr Ian Weber holds a PhD in Sociology and Master of Business and Master of Education degrees. He is currently completing his second PhD (Creative Writing) in the School of Business and Creative Industries. His PhD has two interrelated components – creative works and exegesis.