Languages and Literature, Birmingham City University
My doctoral research – carried out in collaboration with the Birmingham-based literature agency Writing West Midlands (hereafter WWM) – seeks to examine the three key discourses permeating contemporary English literary culture: ‘readability’, ‘community’, and ‘value’.
My long-term exposure to and preliminary research of literary criticism, online book reviews, book blurbs, literary award ceremonies, funding documentation from Arts Council England (hereafter ACE), promotional and non-promotional materials produced by WWM and academic literature about contemporary literary culture enabled me to identify the above-mentioned discourses as dominant. Since I did not carry out any statistical analyses, dominant here does not have a quantifiable value. The repetition of these discourses over others entails that they are construed as normative: everyone recognises what constitutes the standard, regardless of whether they play a role in (re)producing it.
My thesis considers that discourses do not occur in a vacuum but always engage with and respond to the cultural and societal contexts in which they occur. Additionally, discourses are entangled with material structures (e.g., web interfaces) and practices (e.g., ways of interacting). My main aim is to show how a holistic approach – including cultural, material, and discourse analysis – of the discourses of ‘readability’, ‘community’, and ‘value’ shed light on the ways in which literary experiences are currently framed. Preliminary analyses lead me to ask the following questions:
My PhD thesis comprises three case studies corresponding to the three discourses identified as ‘dominant’. Each case study encompasses four smaller components, although these may change as my work progresses.
My first chapter discusses the notion of ‘readability’ within contemporary literary culture. I focus on (1) the (re)production of readable books on Wattpad; (2) the reception of the ‘readability’ discourse on the Guardian; (3) readability, commercial vs. literary genres, and state-funded vs. privately-funded literature; (4) readability and minoritarian discourses: where do curiosity and literary difficulty come into play?
My second chapter analyses the key theme of ‘community’. I focus on: (1) the (re)production of communities of readers and writers in academic literature; (2) the appeal to communal sentiments on the book-based websites Wattpad and Goodreads; (3) the relationship between ‘community’ and ‘inclusion and diversity’ for ACE and WWM; (4) community and minoritarian discourses: where does individuality come into play?
My third chapter investigates the discourse of ‘value’. I focus on: (1) cultural policy and the entanglement of economic value and happiness; (2) readers as consumers: what do readers value on the crowdfunding publisher website Unbound?; (3) the healing power of literature in times of crises, with particular emphasis on Brexit and Covid-19; (4) value and minoritarian discourses: where do qualitative engagement, disruptive thinking, and challenging stories come into play?
As part of my collaboration with WWM, I aim to produce a thesis which has the potential to counterbalance the industry-led quantitative research that is currently informing public funding for literature. It is hoped that my findings will enable WWM to gain greater understanding of its own role and purposes within the wider literary ecosystem and may inform the agency’s priorities and practices regarding curatorial decisions and audience engagement.
Doche, Amélie. 'Relationships, Ideology, and Transitivity: Reading Paul Morel's Mental Landscape'. Journal of Languages, Texts and Society, no. 6 (2022): in press.
Doche, Amélie, and Andrew S. Ross. '"Here Is My Shameful Confession: I Don't Really 'Get' Poetry": Discerning Reader Types in Responses to Sylvia Plath's Ariel on Goodreads'. Textual Practice (2022): 1-22.
Doche, Amélie. 'Hear, Here! Conversations, Equations, Translation: On Jonathan Davidson's A Commonplace (2020)'. Journal of Languages, Texts and Society, no. 5 (2021): 225-248.
Doche, Amélie. 'The Art of Coming-In-This-World: On Sylvia Plath's "Elm"'. Iperstoria, no. 17 (2021): 323-342.
Doche, Amélie. 'Dialogic Strategies and Outcomes In and Around Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending (2011): A Linguistic-Stylistic Analysis'. Master's thesis, Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3, 2020.
Doche, Amélie. Review of the book Why Study Languages?, by Gabrielle Hogan-Brun. Babel: The Language Magazine, no. 37 (Nov. 2021): 47. Digital Archive - Babel n°37.
Doche, Amélie. Review of the book Nuremberg's Voice of Doom: The Autobiography of the Chief Interpreter at History's Greatest Trials, by Wolfe Frank (edited by Paul Hooley). Babel: The Language Magazine, no. 37 (Nov. 2021): 49. Digital Archive - Babel n°37.
Doche, Amélie. Review of the book Style and Reader Response: Minds, Media, Methods, edited by Alice Bell, Sam Browse, Alison Gibbons and David Peplow. Linguist List, no. 32.2740 (25 Aug. 2021).
Doche, Amélie. 'Topographical Collection of King George III'. American Journalism 38, no. 2 (2021): 247-248.
Doche, Amélie. Review of the book 492 Confessions d'un tueur à gages, by Klester Cavalcanti. La Villa Gillet, 3 May 2020.
Le MédiaPhi, 2018-20, 4 poems: 'Le Corps' (19), 'Ex-ducere: un slam' (20), 'Dé-tendre' (21) & 'Anesthésie' (22).
Le Passe-Murailles, 2018, 1 poem: 'L'isolement est un long séjour' (75).
Translation English > French
Guide 'Read On', 2021. 'Read On Guide', brochure produced by Writing West Midlands and printed by Clarkeprint. https://readon.eu/resources/download/Read%20On%20Guide-French.pdf.
'Le silence', 2020. 'The Silence', poem published in A Commonplace: Apples, Bricks & Other People's Poems by Jonathan Davidson. https://jonathandavidson.net/projects/a-commonplace-translations/.
'Une équation du second degré', 2020. 'A Quadratic Equation', poem published in A Commonplace : Apples, Bricks & Other People's Poems by Jonathan Davidson. https://jonathandavidson.net/projects/a-commonplace-translations/.