Lynn Jenner

This hybrid mixed-genre thesis recorded Lynn's investigations of loss, searches and re-constructions. The Holocaust was a major focus.

PhD awarded 2013

Lynn's second book, Lost and Gone Away; an adapted version of her PhD thesis, made up of memoir, essays, prose-poems and poetry, was published by Auckland University Press in 2015 and was a finalist in the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

In 2017 Lynn completed a substantial research project, which examines the challenges and opportunities of the PhD Creative Writing from multiple viewpoints, with the intention of creating 'a feedback loop so students, supervisors and examiners could read a range of perspectives on the IIML PhD in practice.' Having presented papers at several conferences, Lynn has made the full research available online. (See Read more, below.)

Lynn’s third book Peat was published by Otago University Press in 2019. Peat is a collection of essays, poems and glossaries about the politics of the Kāpiti Expressway (one of the National-led government’s Roads of National Significance) and the life and politics of NZ poet, editor and philanthropist Charles Brasch.

Lynn’s first book Dear Sweet Harry, (AUP 2010) was an adaptation of her MA thesis which won the Adam Foundation Prize for Creative Writing in 2008. Dear Sweet Harry won the 2011 New Zealand Society of Authors' Jessie Mackay award for best first book of poetry in the New Zealand Post Book Awards.

Lynn writes: 'My thesis was a hybrid of critical and creative writing. It was also a hybrid in terms of genre, including poems, prose, found text and images. It had a short introductory section telling the story of how the thesis developed its hybrid character, but all its theory was contained in the hybrid text.

'While I was writing the thesis, I wasn't very good at describing it. Now that I have finished it, received feedback from three examiners, defended it, revised it, and adapted it into a book for general readers, I have learned more about what it is and what it is about.

'My thesis  explored the human activity of searching for, documenting and re-constructing what is lost. This included people, species, cultural practices and words. Investigating traces of the Holocaust visible in New Zealand was a particular focus. The thesis examined artefacts constructed with the intent of preserving memory (say, a bach on the Kāpiti coast, used by a Holocaust survivor in the fifties and left untouched by her family for many years, or a film about Bruno Schulz, a Jewish writer who died in the Holocaust) and the tools and processes used to construct these artefacts. Often "examining tools and processes" meant critical writing about books, but sometimes it meant writing about museum exhibits, interviews, poems and art works. My thesis examined memorial at a very large scale and at an intimate scale. It also examined the roles of chance and deliberate re-use and re-cycling in rescuing stories and objects from the process of disintegration or loss. It explored the question of whether the presence of the past is only apparent to those who are already familiar with a certain piece of history.

' I think it helps you to shape a thesis  if you know what you are wanting from the PhD experience. I wanted a situation that supported me to write a piece of work where I could move on from my first book. I wanted to challenge myself as much as I could to develop as a writer. The PhD worked really well for that.

'The PhD was a fantastic opportunity to read really widely and to write as part of a community of practice which included the PhD group and my two supervisors. In this way it felt a bit like the MA programme. The structure of the PhD with its regular supervision and goal setting was extremely helpful to me in keeping the project moving. Having supervisors for three years was another interesting aspect of doing a PhD. It meant that your work was always being read by excellent writers who knew your aspirations for it and were committed to the end result almost as much as you were.'

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