Current PhD Research

Creative Writing at Stirling is home to a range of exciting, practice-based research projects by doctoral students… You can find out more about them and their projects below:

Janine Mitchell, Freedom Road:  The Life and Work of Peter Mackay (SGSAH funded)

I am investigating the potential of biofiction as a method of combining primary research into the life and work of Peter Mackay with creative writing to produce a narrative which self-reflexively explores the nature and boundaries of biography and fiction.  I will explore the strategies used by biographical novelists to support or challenge existing historiographies, recover lost lives and reveal new truths, particularly in the Southern African context.  Using extensive archive material alongside oral history interviews and contextual research, I will produce a work of biofiction which highlights Peter Mackay’s key contributions to the liberation struggles in Southern and Central Africa.  This interdisciplinary project is supervised by Dr Liam Bell (Creative Writing) and Dr Phia Steyn (History).


Mara Dougall, Writing Unity: a practice-led exploration of female physicality in early twentieth century historical fiction (SEA funded, University of Strathclyde*)

My project investigates how historical fiction allows us to inhabit historical bodies, and what embodied narratives can tell us about the gendered experiences of a particular period. I am writing a novel, set in Oban, in the Spring of 1948 as the country’s health services headed towards nationalisation. It explores post-war politics, family and gender dynamics, and contemporaneous concerns around sex education and contraception.  The accompanying critical commentary expands on these themes, specifically interrogating representations of the female body and the medical gaze in early twentieth century literature and related historical fiction.  My analysis combines feminist criticism, narrative theory, and various body works.  I am also using my historical research to feed into inter-disciplinary community engagement activities on the history of healthcare and writing the body.

Supervisors: Dr Liam Bell (Creative Writing, University of Stirling), Dr Laura Kelly (History of Medicine, University of Strathclyde)


Donna Moore, Sources and Silences: A Feminist Creative Intervention in Historical Crime Fiction (SGSAH funded)

I am a published author of novels and short stories and I am researching the extent to which a piece of creative writing can be used to re-imagine and re-tell the stories of invisible women, particularly as related to the Historical Crime Fiction genre. Investigating historical instances of male violence against women, source materials which record women’s lives in the period in question, and the writing process as it relates to contemporary writers of Historical Crime Fiction, this is a practice-based research project which combines research into Gender Studies and Creative Writing. As part of this, I am writing three interlinked novellas set in the 1870s, 1890s and 1919, using a Scottish context to engage with feminism and Historical Crime Fiction. Supervised by Dr Liam Bell (University of Stirling) and Professor Karen Boyle​ (University of Strathclyde).


Scott McNee, Scottish and Southern Gothic (SEA funded, University of Strathclyde*)

My thesis comprises a series of linked short stories (in character and setting) alongside critical work examining the expatriation of themes and motifs from a foreign literary culture, the Southern Gothic tradition in American literature. It is my hope that application of this style to stories set in the west of Scotland will develop a cohesive and heightened collection, supported by the critical work focusing on similar cultural translations. My supervisors are Kevin MacNeil here at Stirling and Dr Elspeth Jadelska at Strathclyde.

*Both Mara and Scott are registered at the University of Strathclyde and are part of our Creative Writing research community through joint-supervision.

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