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Lucretia McCarthy

Languages and Literature, University of Leicester

Thesis title:

Women's Contemporary Experimental Life Writing

My thesis focuses on women’s contemporary experimental life-writing from the nineteen-nineties to present. The primary texts under examination are from four North American writers, each using forms that are atypical in the autobiographical tradition: the graphic memoirs of Alison Bechdel, the autofiction of Chris Kraus, the blog of Jackie Wang, and the autotheory of Maggie Nelson. The authors are significant for unconventional presentations of their own identity and agency, as well as their intersections of race, sexuality, aging, gender, physical and mental illness.

My study of their work centres on two key concepts: co-construction and oversharing. Co-construction is a bricolage technique using the biographies of others, theory, multimedia, and secondary references within first-person narratives. It aids the proliferation of diverse conceptions of female identity. It also acts as a validating force in the articulation of marginalised women’s lives which are subjected to critical invalidation encapsulated by my second area of investigation, ‘oversharing.’ Oversharing is a misogynistic expression connoting inappropriate female accounts of the personal and the enduring grand narratives these subjects are read against. It acts as a mainstream successor to similarly pathologizing terms, including narcissism and hysteria. By examining co-construction and oversharing, I draw wider conclusions on how experimental techniques enable the authors to challenge established boundaries of form and theme. The thesis scrutinises who is still excluded from public self-expression. In investigating representation, reception and recognition through life-writing, I make more significant claims on female identity and legitimised subjects outside of the texts.

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature


Lucretia Rose McCarthy, 'Review of "Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency" by Olivia Laing,' Everybody's Reviewing  <http://everybodysreviewing.blogspot.com/2020/08/review-by-lucretia-rose-mccarthy-of.html>

'Radical Exposures: Crip and Queer in Maggie Nelson's Autotheory,' C21 Literature. https://doi.org/10.16995/c21.9025

[Forthcoming] Special issue of Taylor & Francis' Life Writing journal based on 'Life's Not Personal: A Creative-Critical Conference on Experimental Life Writing,' Editor.

  [Forthcoming] Interview with author Joanna Walsh, Life Writing


Created Identities Conference 2020, 'Agent Provocateur: Subversive Identities in the Experimental Life Writing of Chris Kraus'

Midlands4Cities Research Festival 2021, 'Exposing Her Sources, Exposing Herself: Challenging Otherness in the Experimental Life Writing of Maggie Nelson'

PAMLA Conference 2021, Autobiography Panel, 'Crip/Queer/Other: Radical Exposures in Maggie Nelson's Autotheory'

Life's Not Personal: A Creative-Critical Conference on Experimental Life Writing 2022, Organiser and Panel Chair <https://lifesnotpersonalconference.wordpress.com/>

Public Engagement & Impact

Wellcome Collection, Contributing Participant, 2022, Material Encounters Workshop

Lloyds Banking Group, Speaking Appearance, 2022, 'Raising Marginalised Voices' 

Life Writing Workshop, 2022, organised in collaboration with author Sean Hewitt for Life's Not Personal Conference

Whitechapel Gallery Placement, 2022, 'Unheard Voices: Marginalised Stories from the Whitechapel Gallery Archive.' Speaking event and article forthcoming

Literary Leicester Festival, Interview Event, 2023, 'Joanna Walsh in Conversation with Lucretia Rose McCarthy.' 

Lives in Conversation, Chapbook and Website, 2023, ft. artwork from Caitlin Chase (Babeworld). Forthcoming 

Other Research Interests

Queer Theory

Gender Studies


New Media

Contemporary Literature

Life Writing

Medical Humanities

Crip Theory


January 2020 - Present: Contemporary Women's Writing Association

June 2021 - Present: Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association 

January 2022 - Present: Auto/Biography Society


University of Leicester School of Arts Shorts, November 2020, 'Weird, Feared, and Queered: Contemporary Experimental Women's Life Writing' (Research overview presentation)

University of Leicester Book Club, November 2020, Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts (Introduction to the text, reading, Q&A)

Queen Mary University of London Alumni for LGBTQ+ History Month, February 2022, <https://www.instagram.com/p/CaegpqqAYgD/> (Video describing the importance of LGBTQ+ History Month and representation)


MA English Literature  [Distinction]

Queen Mary University of London   September 2017 – September 2018

Dissertation topic: ‘Disrupting Truths, Disrupting Selves: Women’s Contemporary Experimental Autobiography’. A 15,000 word exploration of five contemporary life writing texts spanning experimental forms to thematically interrogate presentation of the body, mind and relationships through feminist critical theory.   [Distinction Classification]

BA English Literature and Linguistics   [First Class Honours] 

Queen Mary University of London   September 2011 – June 2014

Dissertation topic: ‘Awakening the Working-Class Tradition, Personal and Political Influence of a Hybrid-Realist Novel – The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’. A 10,000 word exploration of Robert Tressell’s Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, a realist novel from a working class perspective that I argue sparked the beginnings of the working class literary tradition and persists in creating real world political, social and cultural impact.   [First Class Classification]

Selected Training

I have received training to gain proficiency in writing and editing, arts management, working in archives, and research ethics and integrity. Below, I list key courses:

Royal Literary Fund, Creative Writing with Marina Benjamin, accepted via competitive application

University of the Arts and Central Saint Martins, Arts Management course

University of Leicester, Interview Skills for Researchers

Royal Literary Fund, Editing with James McConnachie, accepted via competitive application

University of Leicester, Preparing to Teach in Higher Education

Other Academic Involvement

Peer Reviewer for University of Nottingham's Languages, Texts and Society Journal


Advanced HE Associate Fellowship, awarded January 2023

Graduate Teaching Placement 2021-22, University of Leicester, School of Arts

Modules Included:

The Novel Around the World (Undergraduate, Y1)

Concepts in Criticism (Undergraduate, Y2)