Research

My main research interests are in subjectivity in writing and learning processes, in particular the effects of the writing of fictional autobiography on the writer's sense of self, whether these effects come by chance or by design in a personal development context. I am also interested in how creative writing can be used as a developmental tool in adult and higher education more generally, rather than specifically within the area of creative writing, for example in helping students and academics engage more creatively with their academic writing. Within the general area of creative writing and personal development I am particularly interested in the application of literary and psychological theory to the understanding of writing and learning processes, especially theory of metaphor, narrative perspective, and the author's relationship with the imagined reader.

My most recent book publication was Transformative Learning through Creative Life Writing (Routledge, 2013). This resulted from a research project 'The Self in the Learning Process: Creative Writing as a Tool for Learning', funded by the British Academy and the Higher Education Academy, looking at the learning process of students taking the MA Creative Writing and Personal Development. This built on previous research published in my book Therapeutic Dimensions of Autobiography in Creative Writing (2000) and my paper 'Writing and Reflexivity: Training to facilitate creative writing for personal development' in F. Sampson (ed.) Creative Writing in Health and Social Care (2004). 

I have supervised nine doctoral theses to completion including: Sophie Nicholls, 'Writing the Body: Ways in which Creative Writing can facilitate a Felt, Bodily Sense of Self' (2006), Pauline Cooper, 'The Use of Creative Writing as a Therapeutic Activity for Mental Health in Occupational Therapy' (2008), Michael Maltby, 'The Poetics of Experience: a First-Person Creative and Critical Exploration of Self-Experience and the Writing of Poetry' (2009), and Sarah Jackson, 'The Textual Skin: towards a tactile poetics' (2009).