Kerry used her concept of ‘co-mediality’ to underpin the development of a text-and-image work incorporating original poems and 19th-century photographs.
PhD awarded 2012
After the fact : poems, photographs, and regenerating histories
Kerry commenced her doctorate as the IIML's first PhD student in June 2007. Her research project centred on the development of a collection of poems written in response to, and for co-medial presentation with, a selection of photographs by nineteenth-century New Zealand photographer William Williams. Kerry conceived of the co-medial relationship as one in which photographs and poems are presented as equals, the integrity and autonomy of each (photographs and poems as works in their own right) are maintained, and the resulting work (poems-and-photographs) offers more than the constituent parts on their own.
Her thesis, After the Fact : Poems, Photographs, and Regenerating Histories, contextualised her approach, including consideration of issues such as the potentials and hazards associated with bringing together text and image; the implications of mixing history and fiction in the textual element of the work; and the role of 'punctum' in responding to images and developing the creative work. It also discussed potential meanings and contexts to be addressed in interpreting and using nineteenth-century photographs, considering these in relation to Williams's work – first in an overview of his life and activity as a photographer, and then in close readings of three subsets of his photographs dating from c.1882 to 1892. The subjects of these readings overlapped with the co-medial work presented in the thesis in the form of three extended suites of poems and photographs.
Conference papers arising from the research and incorporating both creative writing and critical work included: 'William Williams's Photographs of The Old Shebang ca 1883', presented at the symposium 'The Rise of New Zealand Photography 1839-1918' held at the University of Otago, Dunedin, 6-8 December 2007; 'Archived Landscapes and Regenerating Histories', presented at the International Visual Sociology Association conference, University of Cumbria, Carlisle, 22-24 July 2009; 'Beyond the Illustrative: Photographs as Resource', presented at the Association for the Study of Australian Literature conference, University of New South Wales, 7-10 July 2010; and 'Image, Archive and Creative Practice', presented at the Tertiary Writing Network colloquium, Victoria University of Wellington, 2-3 December 2010. Presentations relating to the project were also given at Plymouth University and at Massey University, and as part of the Friends of the Alexander Turnbull Library's public lecture series and the Writers on Mondays programme at City Gallery Wellington.
Kerry's essay, 'William Williams and "The Old Shebang"', was included in Early New Zealand Photography: Images and Essays, ed. Angela Wanhalla and Erika Wolf (Otago University Press, 2011), 72-77. Poems relating to the project haveappeared in several journals, including The Red Wheelbarrow, the International Literary Quarterly, and PN Review.
Kerry gratefully acknowledges the assistance she received towards her research through her Victoria Postgraduate Scholarship for PhD Study and PhD Submission Scholarship, and Faculty Research Grant funding towards obtaining photographic reproductions of images for close reading and towards presenting at the ASAL Conference in 2010.
Further information on Kerry's work post-PhD can be viewed at her website.