Borderlands: A Novel and Poetics


    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis comprises a novel and poetics exploring how creative writing practice can
    be influenced by engaging in psychogeographic studies of landscapes containing
    nuclear power stations. The focus of this research is the Exclusion Zone surrounding
    the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station in Ukraine and the landscape around Wylfa
    Nuclear Power Station in North Wales.
    The novel explores how embodied experience of landscapes containing
    nuclear power production affects emotional and behavioural responses in the
    characters. It is designed as a contiguous narrative between the two places, following
    one sister’s journey to and through the Exclusion Zone, and the remaining sister’s reevaluation
    of her response to nuclear power at home. This structure enables thematic
    links and comparisons between the contaminated and heavily restricted landscape that
    exists following the Chernobyl disaster, and the farming community around the still
    functional Wylfa.
    The poetics is an autoethnographic study examining how my own relationship
    with nuclear landscapes informs my creative actions. In Part One I consider Guy
    Debord’s definition of psychogeography alongside Eudora Welty’s essay on place in
    fiction in relation to my writing processes. Examination of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s
    theories of embodied perception, and the writing of Robert Macfarlane, identifies how
    landscape is read physically and sensually, as well as visually, and how this informs
    my methodology. Part Two provides a detailed investigation of my psychogeographic
    practice within the landscapes of Wylfa and Chernobyl, with specific focus on those
    aspects of the novel that were influenced by this practice. In applying Debord’s
    critique of ‘the Spectacle’ to the Exclusion Zone I discuss how engaging in dérives –
    drifts through multiple ambient spaces – facilitated the gathering of embodied
    knowledge for the novel.
    This thesis analyses the ways in which landscape forms identity as much as
    identity informs perceptions of landscapes, and how this symbiosis shapes the
    narrative and characters in Borderlands. It exemplifies how psychogeography can be
    applied to rural irradiated spaces to form new understandings of emotional and
    behavioural responses to nuclear power, and how this can inform creative actions.
    Date of Award5 Nov 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Edge Hill University
    SupervisorROGER GLASS (Director of Studies) & JAMES BYRNE (Supervisor)


    • creative writing
    • nuclear
    • Chernobyl
    • Wylfa
    • Autoethnography
    • Psychogeography
    • Novel
    • Debord
    • Wales
    • Poetics

    Cite this

    Borderlands: A Novel and Poetics
    HOLLOWAY, P. (Author). 5 Nov 2019

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis