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Amelie Doche

Languages and Literature, Birmingham City University

Thesis title:

A Qualitative Study of the Reception of the Literary Arts and its Implications for Public Funding for Writing in the Midlands and Beyond

My doctoral research carried out in collaboration with the Birmingham-based literature agency Writing West Midlands (hereafter WWM) seeks to unearth the manifold factors underlying the production, marketing, and reception of contemporary British literature. These factors include – but are not limited to – social values, assumptions, and expectations.

The collaboration with WWM leads me to focus on three books published in or linked to the Midlands: Jonathan Coe’s novel Middle England (2018), Kit de Waal’s (editor) collection of memoir, essays, and poems Common People: An Anthology of Working-class Writers (2019), and Rosie Garland’s poetry collection What Girls Do in the Dark (2020). For each of these three books, I collect and analyse paratextual data (including multimodal data) from authors’ and publishers’ websites, readers’ reviews, newspaper articles and literary awards ceremonies. Preliminary analyses lead me to ask the following questions:

Why does the UK publishing industry market some books as ‘readable’? What does the current institutional emphasis on the ‘transformative’ and ‘healing’ power of literature imply and entail? If the ‘readable’ aspect and ‘transformative’ power of literature are emphasised, what aspects remain invisible and/or unvoiced? What does the expression ‘inclusion and diversity’ mean? In which contexts is it used and for what purposes? To what extent is the literary industry’s vision of the ‘implied reader’ shaped by the new modalities of attention arising in response to the prevalence of digital technologies in our daily lives?

To address these – and similar – matters, I keep in mind Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) distinction between the majoritarian and the minoritarian modes of political action. The majoritarian mode refers to a standard, a norm, or an ideal defined by the power of constants. The minoritarian mode refers to ideas and values which deviate from the norm and thus tend to remain backgrounded. Thus, my study will investigate, for instance, the extent to which a focus on ‘readability’ (majoritarian discourse) may impede arguments pertaining to the provoking or challenging aspects (minoritarian discourse) of literary artefacts.

My qualitative research lies at the intersection of Linguistics, Cultural & Media Studies, and Literature, hence the use of analytical methods drawn from discourse analysis to examine wider literary and cultural questions.  My PhD thesis will comprise four case studies; each of these will constitute one chapter. In the first chapter, I analyse the funding rhetoric put forward by Arts Council England, after which I investigate the extent to which WWM aligns with this rhetoric. In the second chapter, I discuss the notion of ‘readability’ and the ‘healing’ power of literature using the paratext surrounding Jonathan Coe’s Middle England. In the third chapter, I explore the ideas of ‘inclusion and diversity’ and ‘working-classness’ in light of the paratext of Kit de Waal’s Common People: An Anthology of Working-class Writers. In the fourth chapter, I reflect on the ‘difficult’ and the ‘re-presentational’ aspects of literature in relation to the paratext of Rosie Garland’s What Girls Do in the Dark.

As part of my collaboration with WWM, I aim to produce a thesis which has the potential to inform the agency’s priorities and practices, particularly regarding curatorial decisions and audience engagement. I will identify whether and how WWM could benefit from becoming ‘minoritarian’, i.e., becoming a catalyst of change that potentially oversteps the majoritarian standard. In line with the expectations of the CDA, and in complement of my thesis, I will produce a document elaborating on the implications of my findings for the literary industry. 

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature

Publications

Academic

Peer-reviewed articles

Doche, A"The Art of Coming-in-this-World: On Sylvia Plath's 'Elm'." Iperstoria no. 17 (2021): 323-342. DOI: 10.13136/2281-4582/2021.i17.999. 

Doche, A. "Hear, here! Conversations, Equations, Translation: On Jonathan Davidson's A Commonplace (2020)." Journal of Languages, Texts and Society no. 5 (2021): 1-24. 

Master's thesis

Doche, A. (2020). Dialogic Strategies and Outcomes in and Around Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending: A Linguistic-Stylistic Analysis (Master's thesis). Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3, Lyon, France. 

Reviews

Doche, A. Review of the book Style and Reader response: Minds, media, methods, edited by Alice Bell, Sam Browse, Alison Gibbons and David Peplow. Linguist List 32 (25 Aug. 2021). https://linguistlist.org/issues/32/32-2740/.

Doche, A. "Topographical Collection of King George III." American Journalism 38, no. 2 (2021): 247-248. DOI: 10.1080/08821127.2021.1912468

Doche, A. Review of the book 492 Confessions d'un tueur à gages, by Klester Cavalcanti. La Villa Gillet (13 May 2020)https://www.villagillet.net/entrez-dans-la-villa/492-par-amelie-doche/

Poetry

Hecate, 2021, 1 poem: 'a love, a fair'.

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).

Conferences

  • Forthcoming 2021, November 16-19. 'Hugely Readable!': Affects, Effects, and Prospects [Conference paper]. SFLIG 2021. The University of Tasmania, Australia. (Online).
  • Forthcoming 2021, October 22-24. The Manifestation of Voice in Online Book Reviews: Engagement and Diffraction [Conference paper]. 9th IALS Conference: A Game of Theories. Vilnius University, Lithuania.
  • 2021, July 7-9. Online Interpersonal Literacies in Praxis: A SFL-based Stylistic Analysis of Readers' Responses to The Sense of an Ending (2011) [Conference paper]. PALA Conference. University of Nottingham, UK. (Online).
  • 2021, July 7. Writing and Difference: Towards a Diffractive Stylistics? [Conference paper]. Material Encounters Summer Colloquium: Uncertain Knowledge(s). Birmingham City University, UK. (Online).
  • 2021, May 27-28. Interpersonal Metadiscourse in Amazon Customer Reviews of Literary Fiction and its Implications for Construing Genre [Conference paper]. 3rd Metadiscourse Across Genre Conference. Universitat Jaume I de Castelló, Spain. (Online).
  • 2021, May 6-7. Comparative Approaches to the Study of Online Book Reviews: Between Inter-Actions and Intra-Actions [Conference paper]. Applied Stylistics Symposium. Aston University, UK. (Online).
  • 2021, April 20. Responding to the Covid-19 Crisis: Towards Greater Inclusion and Representation in Literature? [Conference paper]. Pandemic Perspectives 2021: Reflections on the Post-Covid World. (Online).
  • 2020, November 23-25. An APPRAISAL Analysis of Online Reading Responses to Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending [Conference paper]. Digital Practices: Reading, Writing and Evaluation on the Web. University of Basel, Switzerland. (Online). 
  • 2020, August 10-11. On Re-Presentations and Emotions: A Study of Metaphorical and Physiognomic Expressions in Sylvia Plath's Elm. [Conference paper]. Memory, Affects and Emotions: International Interdisciplinary Conference. University of Gdańsk, Poland. (Online).
  • 2020, July 8-10. Literary Authenticity and Guided Interpretations in Julian Barnes's Fiction. [Conference paper]. 2nd International Interdisciplinary Conference: Freedom and Authenticity. University of Gdańsk, Poland. (Online).
  • 2019, December 4. Which Linguistic Features Make Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending Feel Cerebral? A Corpus-Based Stylistic Analysis. [Poster presentation]. University of Georgia Postgraduate Linguistics Conference, Athens, USA.
In-house talks
  • 2021, November 2. Sea, Sex & Stylistics in D.H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers and Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending [Research paper]. Literature, Place and Space Conference. Birmingham City University. (Online).
  • 2021, October 13. Ideas as Research [Guest speaker]. Postgraduate Certificate in Research Practice. Birmingham City University.
  • 2021, June 16. Jonathan Coe's Middle England: Paratexts, Interpretations, Receptions [Research paper]. English Research Seminars. Birmingham City University. (Online).
  • 2021, January 27. A few words about my PhD: A Qualitative Study of the Reception of the Literary Arts and its Implications for Public Funding for Writing in the Midlands and Beyond [Open mic]. Birmingham City University PGR Studio Inside//Out PhD Festival. (Online). 

Public Engagement & Impact

Scholarly Activity

  • Current: Nov. 2020 - Nov. 2023: Postgraduate Representative to the Institute of English Studies (IES) Advisory Council. 
  • 22 October 2021: Panel Chair, IALS 2021. Vilnius University, Lithuania. (Online).
  • May 2021: Postgraduate Peer-reviewer for Makings Journal.
  • 23rd April 2021: Conference ChairBirmingham English Language Postgraduate Virtual Conference. University of Birmingham. (Online). Roundtable: "Progressing research during Covid" with panellists Ashley Blake, Nouf Alharbi, and Bingjun Zhang.
  • Dec. 2020 - Jan. 2021: ELIT Training School Attendee. Theme: Literary Theory and Text Analysis.
  • Aug. 2020 - Aug. 2021: Peer-Review Editor for the Journal of Languages, Texts & Society (LTS), Issues 4 & 5, University of Nottingham.
  • 11th Aug. 2020: Panel Chair, session V. Memory, Affects and Emotions: International Interdisciplinary Conference. University of Gdańsk, Poland. (Online).
  • 8th and 9th of July 2019: PALA Summer School Attendee. Theme: Text-World Theory.
Literature & Literary Translation

  • Oct. 2019 - March 2020: Student Judge for the Jean Moulin University Lyon 3 Caméléon Literary Translation Prize. The 2019-20 edition rewarded the best literary translation from contemporary Irish literature into French.
  • Oct. 2018 - March 2019: Student Judge for the Jean Moulin University Lyon 3 Caméléon Literary Translation Prize. The 2018-19 edition rewarded the best literary translation from contemporary Polish literature into French. 
  • May 2018: Session Moderator at the 'Assises Internationales du Roman', Lyon's major literary festival facilitated by The Villa Gillet.

Other Research Interests

  • (Systemic Functional) Discourse Analysis 
  • Reader-response
  • Stylistics
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Contemporary literary culture
  • Creative industries

Memberships

Qualifications

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Research Practice in English, January 2021. Birmingham City University. Distinction.
  • MRes English Linguistics, Literature & History of Ideas, July 2020. Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 (& The University of Georgia). High Distinction.
  • BA English Linguistics, Literature & Culture, July 2017. Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 (& The University of Liverpool). First-class Honours.

Relevant Employment

Teaching
  • April 2021 - July 2021: PhD Tutor in English as part of The Brilliant Tutoring Programme. (Part-time fixed-term contract).
  • April 2019 - July 2019: Early Years Teaching Assistant at Dailloux Kindergarten. (Part-time fixed-term contract). 
  • Sept. 2018 - June 2019: Lecturer - English as a Foreign Language at Amos Sport Business School, Lyon, France. I designed and taught the following undergraduate modules: 'English for Academic Purposes' (EAP) and 'The Discourse of Sports Marketing'. (Part-time fixed-term contract).
  • Oct. 2017 - June 2018: Teaching Assistant - French as a Foreign Language at Sir Thomas Rich's School, Gloucester, UK. (Part-time fixed-term contract).
Education
  • Sept. 2018 - June 2019: Prison Education Coordinator at Genepi Lyon (voluntary work). I had a lead role in designing the courses 'Literacy through Creative Writing' and 'An Introduction to French Children's Literature', which were due to be implemented in 2020 in one youth detention centre based in Lyon (l'Etablissement Pénitentiaire pour Mineurs de Meyzieu). Their implementation has been delayed due to Covid-19.
  • Oct. 2017 - June 2018: After-School Club Assistant at Leckhampton Church of England Primary School with Child's Play Club UK. (Part-time fixed-term contract).

Awards & Funding

  • March 2021: PGR Studio's Researcher Development Award, Birmingham City University (with Pierre d'Alancaisez et Vincent Obia). Project: "Thinking, researching, and being online". Budget: £600 to organise a series of three workshops.
  • Sept. 2020 - August 2024: Collaborative Doctoral Award, Birmingham City University & Writing West Midlands. Fully funded (fees and stipend) by Midlands 4 Cities, Arts and Humanities Research Council. 
  • July 2019 - December 2019: Visiting student at The University of Georgia (USA). Fully funded (fees and stipend) by the Aide à la Mobilité Internationale (AMI), Explora' Sup and the Crous. 
  • Sept. 2016 - June 2017: Exchange student at The University of Liverpool (UK). Fully funded (fees and stipend) by Erasmus +, Explora'Sup and the Crous.
  • July 2010: Merit Award for exceptional Brevet results (GCSE equivalent). 1,000€ per high-school year, funded by the Ministry of National Education.