The Granddaughter-Illustrator: using Edith Stein's philosophy of empathy as methodological framework for postmemorial visual practice

Bell, Louise (2023) The Granddaughter-Illustrator: using Edith Stein's philosophy of empathy as methodological framework for postmemorial visual practice. Doctoral thesis, Falmouth University / University of the Arts London.

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Abstract / Summary

This thesis presents illustration as a practice capable of enacting and articulating twentieth
century philosopher Edith Stein’s phenomenological paradigm of empathy. I refer to Stein’s
published doctoral thesis On the Problem of Empathy (1917) as a theoretical framework to
compliment and substantiate my illustration research practice, which I position within
Marianne Hirsch’s term of ‘postmemory’.
Postmemory work is characterised by the desire to fill in gaps (in memory, in archives) and
the impossibility of this completion. Silence, absence, and emptiness are always already
present and often central to postmemory. The creative practices used within this PhD are
tools in an attempt to reveal a past place through a familial connection. However, this
estimation will always be both authorial and perforated as the trauma of the Blitz and the
insurmountable distance of time form a rupture that cannot be bridged. As an
illustrator-researcher, I employ illustration as a connective practice to produce affiliation
with people and places of the past. The methodology used is site-responsive,
multidisciplinary and qualitative.
This research explores a different approach to writing about the past through the use of
illustration to open space for other, affective ways of knowing. I present illustration as an
arts practice consisting of walking, drawing, recording, artefact making and writing. Not
only will this thesis contribute to the relatively young field of critical illustration writing,
but it positions illustration as an empathic arts practice through its ability to incite
emotional or embodied understanding by way of its production. This study furthers
research initiated by Hirsch and situates Plymouth as a Blitzed city suitable for
postmemory research to be extended by those attempting to examine their own inherited
place-based histories.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Arts > Fine Art
Depositing User: Ailsa Poll
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2024 10:26
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2024 10:43


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