Chloe Riley, PhD Thesis Proposal Review

Please join us for the next CuSPP Seminar (taking place both in-person and via zoom)

Thursday 25 May, 1-2pm, AD Hope Conference Room (see CuSPP email or contact for zoom link).

This creative writing thesis explores the life of famed Australian criminal Frances Knorr, and the politicised representation of deviance and criminality in neo-Victorian literature. This study will consist of two components: a creative component, in the form of a novel, and an accompanying dissertation. The novel will detail the final two years of the life of Frances Knorr, exploring the events surrounding her trial and conviction for the murders of three infants. The narrative will reflect Knorr’s life within the social climate of Melbourne in the early 1890s, and the significance of her trial amidst the influx of infanticides during this period. The accompanying dissertation will explore the construction of nineteenth century deviance and criminality through a disability and crip lens, and its politicised use in neo-Victorian fiction as a mnemonic device to commemorate marginalised histories. A study of Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace (1996) will explore how Atwood portrays women’s deviance and criminality in terms of disability, and how this portrayal commemorates marginalised women’s history, and the collective trauma of gendered violence. This study will act as a model for reading the way Frances Knorr, and the forgotten history of infanticide and baby-farming in nineteenth century Australia, have been commemorated in two works of fiction: The Notorious Frances Thwaites by Kellinde Wrightson (2014), and The Hanging of Minnie Thwaites by Judith Rodriguez (2012). Finally, this study will place my original novel in the context of existing Knorr literature, exploring how my novel explores Knorr’s perceived deviance and criminality within the social climate of 1890s Australia, and interprets it through the lens of disability, neurodivergence, and trauma.

Chloe Riley (they/she) is a neuroqueer Australian writer based on Wurundjeri country. They hold an honours and a master’s degree in creative writing from Monash University, for which they received first class awards. They were first published in Verge in 2017, for which their short story ‘The Lemon Tree’ was runner-up for the Verge Prize for Prose. Their second short story ‘The Mermaid’ was published in the New Zealand journal Aotearotica in 2018. Their currently unpublished novella Ecdysis, submitted as part of their master’s thesis, is a lesbian narrative loosely based on Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Henry Lawson’s ‘The Drover’s Wife’.

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