Kate Duignan

Kate's PhD was a novel narrated in first person, and a study of narration and ethics in Marilynne Robinson's Gilead novels, particularly Gilead itself.

PhD awarded 2018

Kate is a novelist and short story writer based in Aro Valley.  After completing the MA in Creative Writing in 2000, her novel Breakwater (2001) was published by Victoria University Press.  She has published in Landfall and Sport, and been anthologised in The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories (2009) and the Anthology of New Zealand Literature (2012).  Kate held the Robert Burns Fellowship at Otago University in 2004.  She taught short fiction workshops at the IIML from 2010-2013 and continued to supervise for the MA programme while working on her PhD.

In 2017 she was one of seven new Victoria graduates included in the inaugural doctoral Dean's List (Faculty of Graduate Research). This list is reserved for doctoral graduates whose theses have been judged by their examiners to be of exceptional quality and whose work makes an outstanding contribution to their field of research.

The New Ships, her second novel, was published by VUP in 2018.

Kate's creative project was a novel, The New Ships. This novel is narrated in the first person by Peter Collie, a man telling his own story in his own words. In the process of writing this, she became interested in how an author might position herself when creating a first person character. How do you signal a gap between yourself and your character, without resorting to heavy irony or contempt?

Her critical work explored Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, a novel also told by a first person male narrator, John Ames. Kate was interested to understand the techniques Robinson used to create a gap between author and narrating character. She concluded that Robinson has created a novel which deploys a shifting and delicate ironic distance between Ames and the implied author. Kate's critical work engaged with Levinas's idea of an ethical relation as one where the other person is not able to be comprehended or categorised. She concluded that in Gilead, authorial control over our judgment John Ames is relinquished in favour of space, mystery and incomprehensibility. Robinson's example here became important for Kate in figuring out how narration could work in The New Ships.

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