Transcendence: boundaries, thresholds and the fourth dimension in the composite 'musical novel'

Monument, Liz and Lambert, Zoe (2021) Transcendence: boundaries, thresholds and the fourth dimension in the composite 'musical novel'. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This PhD has two parts: a composite novel (Transcendence); and an accompanying essay, which explores creative and critical strategies vital to the novel’s writing. Transcendence follows characters who cross boundaries and thresholds of different kinds, to undertake life-changing journeys: the Anglo Saxon Cwenhild must choose between art and marriage; Jules, a pregnant man, becomes the subject of an unlawful experiment; Izzy and Mei plan escape from their futuristic cities, travelling through ruined dystopian landscape and magical forest in search of freedom; and an anthrobot called Dottie reminisces about the old world which gave way to the new. Forgotten women are resurrected, as the characters’ stories overlap in chance encounters which breach boundaries and cross thresholds in space and time. Transcendence is inspired by the composite novels of David Mitchell, in its long timeline, multiple narrators, composite form, and cross-genre elements. The novel explores how all manner of boundaries and thresholds can be creatively crafted to push both narrative form and content in new directions. Transcendence is accompanied by a 20,000-word critical essay. The essay explores the musical devices I employed whilst writing (form, dissonance, silence, motif, coda and aleatoric composition), adopting Emily Petermann’s term the ‘musical novel’ to examine how these relate to fiction. I identify a beyond-boundary landscape in the fourth dimension, and suggest how Fortean aspects of the fourth dimension (ghosts, timeslips, alien abduction and the magical forest) can contribute fresh elements to story. I conclude that musical form and the fourth dimension present all kinds of boundaries and thresholds, which inspire new interpretations of structure and content in cross-genre pan-historical composite narrative.

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Thesis (PhD)
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06 Oct 2021 09:10
Last Modified:
13 Nov 2023 00:33