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Title: Morph ; Constructing identity : how the experience of cyberspace contributes to the emerging story of self in young people
Authors: Clough, Jill Lesley
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis develops from the belief that young people construct identities for themselves which inevitably surprise their parents, particularly where so much of their coming-of-age is influenced by hidden virtual experiences. The novel which explores this is Morph . Joey, the protagonist, is uneasy about her gender. She has a loving family, intelligence, a satisfying way of life, but loathes her body. She investigates alternative futures, initially online. Her closest friend also has a secret, revealed after a suicide attempt that Joey averts: sexual abuse by her father. Each has to discover how to live with the evolving sense of self. If Joey wishes to change gender her character may alter, too; she finds she can be violent when confronting the abusive father. The story is told through Joey’s eyes and activities in cyberspace, which she thinks of as a free place, parallel to the mountains over which she loves to run. She feels at ease in both places. Eventually she decides to live as both male and female (Other) because she does not have a ‘condition’ needing to be cured. Classification in the natural world allows for infinite variety, and she want similar opportunities for herself. The critical aspect of the thesis begins with those aspects of my experience which affect my conception of the narrative, including how, as a teacher, I drew upon insights from neuroscience about the malleability of the self. I analyse a series of interviews with young people about how they present themselves online. Since the trigger for the novel is online disclosure of gender variance, I explore what is available online, current medical attitudes and policies; I set the interview findings in the context of theoretical frameworks for personal and group identity. I conclude that where young people lack frameworks for interpreting virtual experience, the emerging sense of self may be destabilised, or even impaired
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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