'Queer as Friends' is a practice-based creative non-fiction PhD project which interweaves confessional memoir and personal storytelling with queer feminist theoretical discourse. It proposes a manifesto for unconventional friendships between women in a full-length publication-ready manuscript. It is intended to be both an autoethnographic approach to scholarship and a celebration of queer friendships as a feminist act.
The narrative is an experimental non-chronological patchwork of micro-chapters comprising mixed forms including prose, poetry, script, postcard and email. Encompassing intimate details, anecdotes and experiences from ten of my own unconventional, boundary-crossing, hard-to-label friendships, their disruptive potential and radical effects will be uncovered and examined. This builds on the emerging field of creative non-fiction by women writers, books and projects that successfully blend memoir with qualitative research (Gilbert 2007, Moran 2011, Russell 2016, Nelson 2015, Wilby 2017).
The project’s critical component is integral and closely aligned with the creative piece. Through self-reflection, interviews, multi-disciplinary secondary research and literary investigation, I will explore the practice of writing the self as queer feminist methodology, in order to address the question: why is creative writing not yet widely accepted as scholarship?
Building on the theoretical traditions of Irigaray, Foucault, Butler and Sedgwick, the central theses are that the reshaping of friendships lies within a queering of them to challenge the binaries of a heteronormative framework, and that authentic autobiographical storytelling is a critical methodology for queer feminists.
Tedlock claims, ‘Now is the time for passionate, ethnographic memoir...in which a performer “is telling it like it is”' (332). 'Queer as Friends' is important during this climate of political disharmony, in light of global activism such as #RiseUp and to follow the lead from boundary blurring queer/feminist-academic/mainstream texts such as ‘The Argonauts’ (Nelson, 2015). It will contribute significantly to discourse of academia through content, form and critical reflection.