The doctorate research I’m currently working on (@Aberystwyth University, UK) is rooted in the work of French philosopher, Hélène Cixous, and her radical invitation for writers to create strong self-narratives and “write the body.” I also look to another French philosopher, Catherine Malabou, and her work with the concept of plasticity. When a serious or catastrophic event occurs, the self may be split in two, experiencing an alteration so disfiguring, that an entirely new identity is revealed in its place. I track these breaks in the lives of women, both in fiction and memoir, and study the transformative quality of trauma.
Another line of inquiry in my doctoral work centers around Susan Sontag’s call for liberation from metaphoric language and thinking around illness in both literature and popular culture. I look to the use of disease images in political rhetoric on both the right and left, and the economic metaphors for both the cancer of today and tuberculosis of the 19th century. I also look at the rise of propaganda for American “self-empowerment” seminars, and the simplistic (often cruel) claim that emotion creates disease. The intersection of metaphoric language around illness in literature and popular culture, and the loss of identity due to trauma, is the point of my inquiry.
In 2015-16 I had a Fulbright Grant from the US State Department to complete a collection of lyric essays and prose poetry in Ljubljana, Slovenia. This work was later published as my Master’s thesis at Dartmouth College, and was nominated for the Byam-Shaw Brownstone thesis award. I’ve had poems and essays published in River, River, university literary journals, River Teeth and etc.
My Fulbright and some of my publications can be found under the name, Kelley McKenna Rossier.