Guiding life writers: the supervision of creative doctoral work interrogating personal trauma

Publication Type:
Journal Article
New Writing, 2017, 14 (1), pp. 23 - 35
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© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. There exists much literature on the student and doctoral candidate relationship across the disciplines. However, there is a gap in understanding this crucial dynamic in the context of creative practices, and an even more pronounced gap interrogating the supervisor to candidate dynamic when a student is conducting life-writing involving personal trauma. Despite this, more and more universities are opening their doors to these types of research projects. In 2014, a final year doctoral candidate in life-writing and her supervisor conducted a mini research project about their experience of supervision. The crux of their investigation hinged on the relatively nuanced requirements of supervision when the candidate is writing about personally traumatic themes in their dissertation. By combining their analysis of their real experiences as supervisor and candidate, and pre-existing academic thought on both the requirements of supervision and the differing needs of post-trauma students, the authors seek to contribute to the growing canon within the creative practices on supervisor/candidate relationships, as well as the relatively fraught ethics of the commodification of life experiences within tertiary institutions.
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