Research Network Session 2

Wednesday 31 May, 1-2.30pm

On Zoom

Please note: this event is only open to members of our Research Network, which you can join here.

Speakers: Dr Tamarin Norwood, Dr Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado

Convenors: Dr Kate Kennedy, Dr Alice Little


Life-Writing and the Life Course: crafting narratives of birth and death

Dr Tamarin Norwood (University of Loughborough)

In practice, the aesthetic and therapeutic possibilities of life-writing are often held in tension, each apparently at risk of compromising the other. My presentation will explore this tension in a three-part case study that describes the process of deriving two therapeutic healthcare interventions from a writing project that began, so I told myself, as a principally literary venture. Part one, the writing project, is a memoir recollecting the brief life of my baby son, drawn together from small and scant memories greatly expanded through metaphorical extension. Part two is a journal article pointing out that reproductive loss is a form of grief uniquely lacking in cultural narratives, and that bereaved families could benefit from replenishing these missing narratives on an individual level through creative writing practices (such as those at play in part one). Part three is the design and delivery of the bereavement care resources proposed in this article, now distributed by NHS Trusts to parents bereaved at birth as part of the support provision of a collaborating baby loss charity. My presentation will reflect upon lessons learned through this process, including the particular possibilities, limitations and risks when life-writing does not take for granted that birth precedes death in the course of a life story.

Dr Tamarin Norwood is a writer and academic with a background in fine art. She has written on drawing, metaphor, memorial and grief, and has an interest in ritual and rural history. Tamarin was awarded a Clarendon scholarship for her DPhil in Fine Art at the University of Oxford (2019), and is now a research fellow at the University of Loughborough Drawing Research Group, visiting research fellow at the University of Bath Centre for Death and Society, and visiting scholar at the University of Oxford Centre for Life-Writing. In 2021 she won The Lancet’s essay prize for her essay Something Good Enough, and in the same year her drawing memoir The Mourning Lines was published by Ma Bibliothèque. Her second book The Song of the Whole Wide World comes out in 2024, interpreting the brief life of her baby son. She lives and works in rural Northamptonshire. 

‘A god-awful shock’: Big House Burnings and the Irish Revolution in Molly Keane’s Life and Fiction

Dr Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado (Queen's University Belfast)

‘Our house was burned down as a reprisal for some Black and Tan atrocity,’ declared the renowned novelist Molly Keane when recalling the destruction of her home by the IRA. Despite enormous popular and scholarly interest in the Irish Revolution, a masculinist version of this history has occluded stories of how women and girls were affected by conflict. Ireland’s official programme commemorating the Revolution, the Decade of Centenaries (2012-2023), has also avoided addressing the demise of the Anglo-Irish landed gentry and their Big Houses. Dr Sherratt-Bado contends that Irish women’s autobiographical fiction (autofiction) depicting the Revolution is a key form of archival evidence as it is informed by personal memory. Her talk will survey autofictional Big House novels by Molly Keane to gauge how their portrayal of the Revolution speaks to our contemporary political climate of commemoration. What does a novelist and witness like Molly Keane have to tell us about the lived experiences of Big House burnings?

Dr Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado is Visiting Scholar in the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s University Belfast. She is co-editor of the anthology Female Lines: New Writing by Women from Northern Ireland (Dublin: New Island Books, 2017). Dawn Miranda holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. She has taught at Maynooth University and the University of Edinburgh. She specialises in modern and contemporary Irish literature and culture, with a particular interest in Irish women’s writing. Her current research is supported by an Arts Council of Ireland award. She has published widely, including recent articles in Irish Studies in International Affairs, Irish Studies Review, Review of Irish Studies in Europe, and Open Library of Humanities. She contributes frequently to the Dublin Review of Books and The Irish Times, and she has appeared on RTÉ Radio and BBC Radio Ulster to discuss her work. She is a peer panellist for the Arts Council of Ireland. She is on Twitter and Instagram @drdawnmiranda.


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