We are delighted to welcome back John Foxwell to Hearing the Voice as a Post-doctoral Research and Engagement Fellow. John received his BA and MA in English Literature from Durham University, and has recently submitted his PhD thesis at the same institution. He writes:

Having been a PhD student with Hearing the Voice, I’m incredibly grateful to be able to continue working with the project. As a Post-doctoral Research and Engagement Fellow, I will be focusing on the Writers’ Inner Voices strand of the project, analysing the data we gathered from writers at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2014 and 2018. The questionnaire we sent out asked writers to describe how they experienced their characters, and the wealth of responses we received appear to suggest some fascinating insights regarding the phenomenology of imaginative experience. I am also working with the project’s writer in residence, David Napthine, on designing and trialling creative writing workshops based on our findings.

My thesis explored the phenomenology of hallucinatory experience in fiction of the mid-twentieth century, examining the ways in which several novels during this period try to convey what hallucinatory experience is like. Drawing on reader-response theory, cognitive narratology and cognitive stylistics, I suggested that these novels prompt the reader to imaginatively enact the form of hallucinatory experience through a distortion of the stylistic and narratological norms which govern the ordinary representation of lived experience in fiction. At the same time, these novels seem to use hallucinatory experience to reflect back on how we imaginatively engage with narrative texts, both as writers and as readers. So having examined the phenomenology of imaginative experience from a heavily theoretical perspective, I’m excited to be able to develop these ideas in relation to a more data-driven approach.

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