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  • 2021monumentphd

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Transcendence: boundaries, thresholds and the fourth dimension in the composite 'musical novel'

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date29/09/2021
Number of pages406
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This PhD has two parts: a composite novel (Transcendence); and an accompanying
essay, which explores creative and critical strategies vital to the novel’s writing.
Transcendence follows characters who cross boundaries and thresholds of different kinds, to undertake life-changing journeys: the Anglo Saxon Cwenhild must choose between art and marriage; Jules, a pregnant man, becomes the subject of an unlawful experiment; Izzy and Mei plan escape from their futuristic cities, travelling through ruined dystopian landscape and magical forest in search of freedom; and an anthrobot called Dottie reminisces about the old world which
gave way to the new. Forgotten women are resurrected, as the characters’ stories
overlap in chance encounters which breach boundaries and cross thresholds in
space and time.

Transcendence is inspired by the composite novels of David Mitchell, in its
long timeline, multiple narrators, composite form, and cross-genre elements. The
novel explores how all manner of boundaries and thresholds can be creatively
crafted to push both narrative form and content in new directions.

Transcendence is accompanied by a 20,000-word critical essay. The essay
explores the musical devices I employed whilst writing (form, dissonance, silence,
motif, coda and aleatoric composition), adopting Emily Petermann’s term the
‘musical novel’ to examine how these relate to fiction. I identify a beyond-boundary landscape in the fourth dimension, and suggest how Fortean aspects of the fourth dimension (ghosts, timeslips, alien abduction and the magical forest) can contribute fresh elements to story. I conclude that musical form and the fourth dimension present all kinds of boundaries and thresholds, which inspire new interpretations of structure and content in cross-genre pan-historical composite