My Proposal: Draft Version

A couple of people asked to see this and, as long as we are all clear that this is very much a work in progress, this is my proposal. I’m also offering it because I found very few PhD (by practice)  proposals online, so I thought it might be useful for someone else embarking on this type of degree, especially in the creative writing field.

I also have committed, to a certain extent, to documenting the process of my studies here, so… this really was the beginning of it:

3 Thoughts on “My Proposal: Draft Version

  1. This sounds so incredibly interesting. I’ll be following your progress, avidly!

    I also have a couple of questions: as this is your proposal, am I right in assuming this is what you submitted to universities when you were seeking someone to oversee your thesis?

    Also, I know you had trouble finding someone, due to the erotic nature of your proposal, but what specifically were people put off by? Was it simply that no one had the know-how to oversee it? Or were you refused at the first mention of eroticism/sex? Or was it in response to the part of your proposal that includes original erotic fiction? I ask simply because, as you say, there are a handful of very respected authors there who wrote erotic fiction in 20th Century and are now part of the literary canon, and also some respected theorists who addressed sex in literature directly. What exactly are people still bothered by?

    • Some simply didn’t have the staff. Some had the staff but no one who felt competent to do it or, in one case, no one who felt comfortable ‘dealing with that sort of material’. I had one rejection based on the fact that, although they liked the critical part of my proposal, my writing ‘wasn’t up to the high standard expected for admission into a PhD program.’ I wrote them back and told them I was sorry to hear I’d been rejected. They responded by saying it wasn’t a rejection. That they simply didn’t have the supervision capability.

      I found that last rejection very odd. Was it that my writing was poor or was it a lack of supervisory capacity? Because they are two very different things.

      I think it took some bravery on the part of the uni who accepted me to consider my writing within the context of the genre I was writing in and that – within the context of that genre – it was of an acceptable standard. Obviously, they were willing to see erotic fiction as a genre, with conventions and a canon, like any other. Quite honestly, that’s how I knew I had found the right home.

    • “What exactly are people still bothered by?”

      I don’t know that I can answer that question. My gut says that writing primarily focused on sexual desire is still considered ‘low art’. Added to that, PhDs by practice are still fighting for recognition as ‘serious research’. The combination of those two ambivalences may mean that some Creative Writing graduate programs are still doing the ‘Caesar’s Wife’ thing. They’re far more comfortable admitting students who write literary fiction, poetry, plays, etc. Even if some have recognized that mainstream genre fiction has merit by virtue of its popularity, SF, thrillers, mystery, etc. are still ‘safer’ genres.

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