News & Stories

Turning fiction into a PhD

Liz Evans has taken her professional experience and love of novels into her Creative Writing PhD

Writer and psychotherapist, Liz Evans has taken her professional experience and love of domestic noir novels into her Creative Writing PhD research, which involves writing a novel as well as a thesis. 

I’m looking at how contemporary psychological thrillers frame the female psyche, so I’m integrating all of my professional experience and past study into this project, while indulging my love of domestic noir novels, and – perhaps, best of all - developing a new skill; writing fiction. To be honest, it feels like a total luxury, particularly as I’ve been fortunate enough to get a scholarship.

Her interest in representations of women within popular culture began when she started working as a music journalist for the British rock press back in 1988. 

During the 1990s, I interviewed a lot of really exciting female musicians including Courtney Love, L7, D’Arcy of Smashing Pumpkins, Kim Deal of The Pixies, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, Bjork, Tori Amos, plus some of the Riot Grrrl bands. All of them were extremely uncomfortable with the ways in which they were being portrayed by the male-dominated music papers of the time

Wanting to deepen and develop her interest in and understanding of culture, gender and women's experience, she went on to train as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and researched Jungian psychology through a feminist lens for her Master’s degree in Jungian Studies at the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex. And this provided another foundation for her current enquiry into literary representations of psychologically complex female protagonists.

After returning to Tasmania after some time living in Melbourne, a friend persuaded Liz to contact academic Dr Danielle Wood about turning her fiction into a PhD which led to further meetings with Dr Hannah Stark and Dr Louise Richardson-Self, leading to a successful application and gaining three supervisors. 

They’re basically a dream team, and I feel enormously privileged to have their combined support and advice, as well as their understanding about the juggle between home, family and studies. Ironically, I'm more productive now than I've ever been as a writer, so for anyone who thinks parenthood and PhDs don't mix, please think again! With a little discipline, it's more than possible, thanks to the flexibility of studying to your own schedule.

As for life in Tasmania, being in nature keeps her grounded and relaxed. At home, Liz is surrounded by forests, beaches and mountains, all within half an hour of university and the small, but eclectic arts scene of Hobart. 

Every now and then old friends from the music industry come through with Mona Foma and Dark Mofo, and I tell them this isn't New York, but there's so much to discover and appreciate, especially if you love wild adventures, individual creativity, and great food. And you never have to queue!

Find out more about studying English at the University of Tasmania

Interested in conducting your own research? Apply now to become a research student.