Allan wrote a novel of John Milton’s life while completing Paradise Lost. His critical thesis investigated the effects of genre on characterisation.
PhD awarded 2017 - Doctoral Dean's List
Allan originally studied science, obtaining his undergraduate degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. He subsequently worked in medical research and later in medical publishing. Allan later studied English and creative writing at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, before obtaining his Master of Creative Writing in 2012 from the University of Auckland. Allan conducted his doctoral study between 2014 and 2017.
His creative project was a novel fictionalising John Milton's life while he completed his epic poem Paradise Lost. This proposal was originally inspired by a love for Milton's epic and a desire to understand how such a work can be written. Allan subsequently became interested in determining the ability of fiction to help us understand and interpret genius – using Milton as a model for genius.
Allan's critical work focused on acts of characterisation in fictional narratives. The texts of interest were Paradise Lost, in which Milton performs his characterisations within the 'negative space' provided by the source biblical narrative, and Lucy Hutchinson's Order and Disorder, another long poem from the same period that also retells the narrative of Genesis. The thesis specifically investigated how the acts of characterisation affect and are affected by literary genre (epic poem and meditative verse paraphrase for the two poems, respectively). The character of Eve was given particular attention in the critical work; likewise, Eve served as a motif and site of contention in the creative work, too.
Allan published and presented his doctoral work-in-progress as his study progressed. His flash fiction on Milton, 'The smell of it all', was published in Flash Frontiers in December 2015, and his literary essay reflecting on his research trip to Milton's Cottage in the UK was published in Overland (he also talked about this research trip on Radio New Zealand). Allan presented extracts of his research for three consecutive years at Waikato University's annual FASSGRAD conference, and published a related journal article in Te Kura Kete Aronui. He also presented papers at the 11th Biennial Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies in February 2017, The Afterlives of Eve Conference in Newcastle, England in 2016 and The Stain of Blood: Poetry and History Conference held at Victoria University of Wellington in 2015. Allan's invocation of Milton's 1644 polemic tract Areopagitica as it relates to current issues of censorship in literature was published in Overland in 2015. Beyond the work related to his PhD, Allan has published short fiction, creative non-fiction, academic non-fiction and poetry in a range of publications across New Zealand, Australia, the UK and the USA. Allan was runner up in the Overland Short Story Prize for New and Emerging Writers in September 2017 with his story 'Wharekaho Beach, 1944' and was highly commended in the 2017 National Flash Fiction Day Competition with 'Kinaesthesia'. He also won the inaugural Ingenio Short Story Competition in 2012, and was shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize in 2013.
In 2017 he was one of seven new university graduates included in the inaugural Doctoral Dean's List (Faculty of Graduate Research). This list is reserved for doctoral graduates whose theses have been judged by their examiners to be of exceptional quality and whose work makes an outstanding contribution to their field of research. Allan now teaches creative writing and science communication at Massey University.
A full list of his publications and awards is available on Allan Drew's website.