Apropos of everything: navigating life with genre

Flynn, Catherine 2022, Apropos of everything: navigating life with genre , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Abstract

Apropos of Everything: Navigating Life with Genre (AoE) is a hybrid critical/creative portfolio which proposes a new theory of Genre, Creativity and Consciousness, named The Social Consciousness Theory (SoCo). By reclaiming and recalibrating the concept of Genre as conceived by literary tradition, the thesis reconceptualises Genre’s function in the creative process and in human life through a comprehensive interdisciplinary investigation. Synthesising knowledge from Biology, Sociology, and Psychology with Creative Writing theory, scholarship, and practice, SoCo proposes a comprehensive, critical and scientific theory of Genre which asserts its central function in the processes of creativity and consciousness. Furthermore, SoCo investigates Genre’s potential as a heuristic or analogy for understanding how humans achieve creativity. The thesis identifies a significant gap in a variety of current biological and psychological theories which utilise an approach centralising the concept of story. The gap emerges because of a failure to recognise the pivotal function served by Genre in story-construction. This thesis argues that by recognising Genre’s role in the creative process, profound interdisciplinary insights can be achieved with regard to two fundamental critical concepts; creativity and consciousness. The thesis proposes Genre as a heuristic with significant analogical reach which aids the conceptualisation of creative development from biological evolution to the trajectories of literary genres. Existing Genre Theory does not account for the breadth of Genre’s applicability as a concept nor realise its interdisciplinary indications. Writing in 1999, Simonton predicted the construction of “a distinct theoretical system that will accommodate all creative activities in a coherent fashion” (247). This thesis attempts to construct the “modern synthesis” which Simonton speaks of. This enquiry asks to what extent and in what ways Genre can be conceptualised as a process analogous with non-explicit sense-and-respond mechanisms present in the most basic organisms, drawing largely from Antonio Damasio’s body of work, and, furthermore, considers the implications that such a conceptualisation invokes with regard to creative, therapeutic, and critical practice; creative and critical literary, psychological, sociological, and biological theory; and, finally, the benefits of utilising the concept in everyday life. The thesis constitutes a rich mutual exchange across multiple disciplines as opposed to traditional “one-way” perspectives. The approach illuminates the utility of Genre when conceptualised in a different way based on scientific research, and thus facilitates a reassessment of the concept in terms of creative practice. The major conclusions, implications, and outcomes of the thesis are as follows: (1) That consciousness is analogous to the creative process, product, or play, and that consciousness emerges, and thus creativity is born, too, from generic competence and individual experimentation. (2) That our “self” can be defined as a genre and furthermore adopts and is shaped by a perspective early in childhood experience; that the perspective is, broadly speaking, tragic or comic; that this comic or tragic perspective shapes our behaviours, interpretations, and social identity; and, finally, that with the help of the new conceptual tools provided by SoCo, we can change that perspective; (3) That through utilising the new SoCo theory it is possible to mount a new theory of Comedy; and (4) That SoCo can be utilised to reconceptualise and start meaningful and affective dialogues about contentious social issues and to effect real change in the dominant social consciousness and its current codes about different genres of experience. Not only does the current thesis constitute significant and innovative development of existing Creativity, Creative Writing, Consciousness, and Genre Theory, but each one of these implications has vast potential for a wide-range of contributions to multiple fields including creative practice; psychological and therapeutic practice; self-help; intersectionality, social justice and reform; and experimental scientific research. Two appendices demonstrate the immediate utility of the theory presented in the field of Creative Writing Theory and Practice-Based research: (1) Towards a SoCo Prosaics – a creative foray and critical apparatus for applying SoCo to literary practice; (2) CANADA – a novel informed by SoCo theory and the prosaics. The three elements of the thesis come together to achieve a comprehensive and creative bid for a new way of understanding both literature and also life. Key words: Genre; Consciousness; Creativity; Social Consciousness; Comedy; Tragedy;

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Hurley, UK (Supervisor) and Lace, GL (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences > Biomedical Research Centre
Schools > School of Arts & Media
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Depositing User: Catherine Flynn
Date Deposited: 12 May 2022 15:00
Last Modified: 12 May 2022 15:24
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/63684

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