Dragonfly: A Novel and Poetics

  • A. J. Ashworth

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis contains a novel, which is a creative response to the science and mythology of the dragonfly, and a poetics which considers the writing of the novel in entomological terms.
The novel features the dragonfly – including entomological detail such as life-cycle, biology, behaviour – in a deeply embedded way, such that both story and structure are influenced by the insect. Dragonfly features three narratives, all of which engage with themes of bereavement and loss with the narratives coalescing towards the end. The main character, a boy called Henry, has experienced the recent loss of his mother and is struggling to connect with his father who has turned to alcohol as a way to cope with the loss of his wife. A woman called Clara introduces Henry to dragonflies, with their friendship leading him and his father to recovery from the destructive nature of grief. A secondary narrative from the point of view of CB explores her own experiences of loss through her father’s diagnosis of dementia. A third narrative from the point of view of the dragonflies intersects with these narratives while highlighting the insects’ own story. This structure allows for thematic links between the narratives to be explored, with the creation of resonance and depth attempted through the use of echo and repetition.
The ‘Dragonfly Poetics’ is a creative–critical exploration of the writing process at a time of bereavement, drawing on the dragonfly as a source of inspiration for both form and content. In this, I adopt an ecocritical perspective to consider the nature of writing, in particular how my writing of the novel, especially whilst bereaved, can be seen to be entomological in nature. I also consider how the dragonfly suggests a framework for my own grief, as well as that of my character Henry. Further, the poetics explores the symbiotic nature of writing, particularly with regard to the growth and development of the novel, as well as notions of merging in relation to the writer (Self) and character (Other), and how bereavement is the instigator of this process.
As a whole, the creative work and poetics contribute to contemporary approaches to writing that is inspired by insects, forming new understanding about how they can influence both form and content at a deep level in both creative and critical outputs.
Date of Award15 Jun 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorJAMES BYRNE (Director of Studies) & CLAIRE PARKINSON (Supervisor)


  • creative writing
  • fiction
  • novel
  • poetics
  • insects
  • bereavement
  • ecofiction
  • ecocriticism
  • Human-animal relations

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