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Caroline Butterwick

Languages and Literature, De Montfort University

Thesis title:

Memoir as Counter Narrative: Using creative nonfiction to explore visual impairment and mental illness and challenge dominant models of disability

This practice research project will produce a memoir exploring my lived experience of mental ill health and visual impairment. It will be an original contribution to, and an intervention in, debates surrounding disability and the taboos surrounding the articulation of mental health issues. It will use creative non-fiction to produce a counter narrative that challenges the inadequacy of dominant models of disability. 

My project sits in the relatively under-examined cross-over between literary and disability studies. I am interested in assessing a growing body of published mental illness and disability memoirs, and theoretical writing surrounding disability and life writing.

I’m interested in ideas around “scriptotherapy” and the therapeutic potential of authorship; the concept of disability as performative and societal expectations as to what it means to be a disabled person; the political context of disability and mental illness and to what extent disability is socially constructed; the idea of the semiotics of symbols of disability, particularly the meanings entwined with the use of the white cane; and experimental methods of showing what it is like to be and navigate the world as a disabled person, such as Oulipian techniques. I am keen to explore creative nonfiction’s potential as a space through which my lived experience of disability can be demonstrated in a way that interacts with concerns in disability theory, and that has an impact.  

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature