Project Title: This Little Light: Writing Trauma As Shadow Work
Supervisors: Dr Jane Kilby & Dr Ursula Hurley
As a girl I was afraid of the dark but I was more afraid of my mother. She loomed over my childhood, a furious, screaming figure whose cruel and abusive behaviour bore all the hallmarks of an extreme narcissistic personality disorder. As an adult the ghosts of my childhood returned to haunt me in the form of a breakdown, chronic fatigue and the angry voice of my inner critical mother who continued to judge, blame and rage. Hitting the bottom, it was an experience of therapy that incorporated a form of dream analysis based on the psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s ground-breaking research into the unconscious, which showed me a way out of my darkness. According to Jung, our dreams are inhabited by a theatre of shadow selves combining universal archetypes with aspects of figures from real life. His therapeutic approach to healing from trauma was not to reject these shadows but to integrate them into a larger whole big enough to hold both darkness and light. A speculative memoir blending life writing and surrealism through a series of interconnected short stories, This Little Light is a dark night of the soul populated by angry mothers, damaged daughters, talismanic creatures, wild women and a mysterious disappearing girl. It explores how the short story and autobiographical fiction can operate as a form of shadow work, integrating literary and psychoanalytic approaches to storytelling, as a means to both represent trauma and work through it.
I have a background in journalism and academia, as a magazine editor and Lecturer in Critical & Contextual Studies, respectively. I am Editor of This Is Not A Book About Gavin Turk, a collection of essays on contemporary art. My novel As It Was In The Beginning was shortlisted for The Dundee International Book Award. I have short fiction published in the North American journal Déraciné.