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Current Research Ph.D. in Gothic Research Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University
Abstract Witchcraft studies in different disciplines include historical accounts of the persecution of witches, witches as figures of horror in popular culture, and sociological and cultural approaches to neopagan movements celebrating witchcraft as a source of spiritual power, such as Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon (1979, Viking Press) and the writings of Doreen Valiente. However, there is little study specific to the metaphysics of witchcraft or the metaphysical and ethical relationships between the triple goddess archetype, which appears in different traditions (both historical and complementary), and feminist concerns about the personal autonomy and socio-economic status of women. My research examines the metaphysics of witchcraft in relation to the notion of power in both magical and feminist senses of the word and is inspired by the Jain Hindu belief that karma manifests as an energetic substance bound to the physical body. Growing stronger with each life cycle, this supernatural karmic “magic” can be manipulated and transferred to influence objects, people, and animals—abilities punitively deemed witchcraft by patriarchal societies and quantum entanglement by physicists. This karmic magic waxes and wanes in response to the female biological life stages menarche, fertility and menopause correlating with maiden, mother and crone. The Cycle examines witchcraft and feminine power through two companion pieces: a critical thesis and a novel. The critical thesis details my research and the historical underpinnings informing the stories in the novel. The creative work offers a comprehensive narrative of the pressures, pleasures and mechanics of witchcraft in individual women’s lives through prose, poetry and illustrations. It reimagines the lives of historical and invented witches in stages of the triune goddess (maiden, mother, crone). Inspired by Charles R. Johnson’s Soulcatcher (Harcourt, 2001) each chapter explores the lives of witches from the Neolithic era to the present, culminating with the realization that each character is an incarnation of the same soul. My project re-envisions witchcraft as an expression of personal power and contributes to current conversations about individual and feminist agency, institutionalized othering, and persecution in patriarchal societies. By synthesizing and presenting this necessary information in a new way, I hope that my work reframes witchcraft as a foundational source of spiritual and metaphysical expression.
Papers, Research and Criticism
Bringing the Arts into the Creative Writing Classroom: A Tangible Approach to Teaching Narrative Structure Abstract Narrative structure modeling can be a dynamic new addition to creative writing curriculum. Ultimately, the goal is to develop a taxonomy that addresses the needs of students and educators, within academia and in their personal and professional writing lives. Writing in Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in theClassroom, John C. Bean says, “Students must develop usefully portable skills that transfer from setting to setting. The most powerful of these skills is the ability to think rhetorically to size up a writing situation in terms of audience, purpose and genre and then to make appropriate composing decisions based on this analysis” (51). Once the capability to identify narrative forms within a text is established, to use structure as a compositional and revisionary tool, and discuss structure using a common language, the writer is on track toward achieving mastery in her chosen genre. (Full text available)
Writing a Better Ending: How Feminist Utopian Literature Subverts Patriarchy American Journal of Economics and Sociology 77(5):1377-1406, November 2018, DOI: 10.1111/ajes.12257 Abstract This article explores the historic role of dystopian and feminist utopian fiction in upholding or supplanting capitalist, patriarchal dominance hierarchies. Here, I will examine the following: the persistence and popularity of dystopias; the political and cultural trends that have influenced them; the reasons why feminist writers have typically excluded men from their utopian visions; the sexual objectification of women in dystopias; and the utopian/dystopian parallax. I will discuss the need for feminist writers to envision inclusive alternate futures that propose realistic, cooperative societies that counter prevailing dystopian models. This can be achieved by dismantling and reconstructing our present reality through the act of changing the stories that we tell ourselves. (Full text available)
Hereditary: Confronting The Good MotherThe battle of patriarchy vs. matriarchy in Ari Aster's "Hereditary" (2018, A24) ends in a Pyrrhic victory. (Full text)
Eat, Drink, and Be Wary: Autosarcophagy and Autoerotism in Body Horror Cinema The Body Horror Book, Oscillate Wildly Press, 2017 "Kirsten Imani Kasai’s essay, “Eat, Drink, and Be Wary: Autosarcophagy and Autoerotism in Body Horror Cinema,” draws parallels between female self-mutilation, plastic surgery, and self-cannibalism, then recontextualizes them as assertions of feminist agency." (Full text available)
The Walking Dead: HIV/AIDS and the Changing Face of Zombies in Literature Abstract Why have zombies become such trendy, pop culture money-makers over the past decade? I believe that the zombie popularity explosion is a response to the hysteria and fear that swept America in the late 1980s and early ’90s during the burgeoning AIDS crisis. Initially, an HIV diagnosis was a death sentence. Ostracized from a society that fears infection, they live in a limbo-land of fear, suspicion and physical decline, having essentially become the walking dead. In this essay, I’ll examine the shifting trend of zombie literature in the wake of the AIDS epidemic. I’ll explore historical connections between pandemics and literature, the changing image of zombies and how the original Haitian image of a voodoo-charmed, undead servant morphed into the current preconception of a zombie: typically, a white male with visible decay and sores, who infects others through violent, blood-borne transmission to render them the “living dead.” (Full text available)