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Janine Irvine

School of English & Media Studies
College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Thesis Title
My story, your story, their story, our story: Life writing and local history.

Research Description
My PhD research explores collaborative life writing in the context of local history narratives within Aotearoa New Zealand. In the context of this thesis, life writing is described as the expressive art form where a writer or writers use the raw material gathered from interviews and document research, to craft life stories that preserve and articulate lived history or histories. Life writing works to braid together oral and literary traditions of history preservation, and transforms ephemeral memories into a tangible artefact for longevity and sharing. This kind of life writing is also always collaborative with, where possible, a focus on working each part of the process in consultation with the subjects. As such, it is a means of learning to write with a community. My research seeks to explore how life writing processes have impacted the telling of local history in the past and present, as well as how it may possibly be used in the future as applied by different groups seeking means to explore their history and to articulate their story to different audiences.

Personal Description
I completed my undergraduate Bachelor of Arts (English and Communications) and Intercultural and Development Communications Honours degree at the University of South Africa. In later years, during my work as a life writer, I worked alongside a geographical community seeking to produce a written history of their district, Through this, I developed an interest in how participation in such processes were of benefit to the community. I enrolled at Massey to return to postgraduate studies to explore the use and value of life writing in community contexts, particularly in the production of local history narratives.

Dr Mary Paul
Dr Trudie Cain

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