I’ve had many requests to see the thesis I wrote for my PhD, “Norming the Other: Narrative Empathy Via Focalised Heterotopia.” While I’ve been assured that the archival PDF of the thesis will be available via the Anglia Ruskin Institutional Repository (ARRO) and will then be harvested by the British Library for their British universities theses database, the Electronic Theses Online Services (EThOS), and so freely available, institutions, like publishing, tend to move on geological rather than human timescales. So I’ve put the thesis here on my website for you to download directly as a PDF.

Here’s the abstract:

This critical commentary argues that the novels submitted (emphasis on Ammonite, The Blue Place, and Hild, with three others, Slow River, Stay, and Always briefly referenced), form a coherent body of work which centres and norms the experience of the Other, particularly queer women. Close reading of the novels demonstrates how specific word-choice and metaphor locate the examination of a focalised character’s body in its physical and sensory setting. This examination of the body is referred to as embodiment. The commentary argues that embodiment of the focalised character activates neural mechanisms within the reader to create and sustain narrative empathy. It explores the creation of focalised heterotopias and the narrative consequences for characters traditionally marginalised in our society but not in their own.

Word-count restrictions meant I had to write more densely than usual (my preferred draft is 30% longer) but I tried to make the ideas flow naturally and to explain terms where possible. If there are parts you want me to clarify or expand upon I’m happy to—either in the comments or by email (use the contact form).

The PDF is formatted to be bindable. To avoid version control problems for those who might like to cite it, I chose not to reformat.

Here it is: Norming the Other: Narrative Empathy Via Focalised Heterotopia.