The Knowing: A Fantasy an epistemological enquiry into creative process, form, and genre

The Knowing: A Fantasy an epistemological enquiry into creative process, form, and genre
Author: Manwaring, Kevan (12 December 2018)


This creative writing PhD thesis consists of a novel and a critical reflective essay. Both articulate a distinctive approach to the challenges of writing genre fiction in the 21st Century that I define as ‘Goldendark’ – one that actively engages with the ethical and political implications of the field via the specific aesthetic choices made about methodology, content, and form. The Knowing: A Fantasy is a novel written in the High Mimetic style that, through the story of Janey McEttrick, a Scottish-Cherokee musician descended from the Reverend Robert Kirk, a 17th Century Episcopalian minister from Aberfoyle (author of the 1691 monograph, The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies), fictionalises the diasporic translocation of song- and tale-cultures between the Scottish Lowlands and the Southern Appalachians, and is a dramatisation of the creative process. In the accompanying critical reflective essay, ‘An Epistemological Enquiry into Creative Process, Form and Genre’, I chart the development of my novel: its initial inspiration, my practice-based research, its composition and completion, all informed both by my practice as a storyteller/poet and by my archival discoveries. In the section ‘Walking Between Worlds’ I articulate my methodology and seek to defend experiential research as a multi-modal approach – one that included long-distance walking, illustration, spoken word performance, ballad-singing and learning an instrument. In ‘Framing the Narrative’ I discuss matters of form – how I engaged with hyperfictionality and digital technology in destabilising traditional conventions of linear narrative and generic expectation. Finally, in ‘Defining Goldendark’ I articulate in detail my approach to a new ethical aesthetics of the fantasy genre.

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