Degree Name

Master of Arts in Creative Writing


Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts


This masters thesis comprises two elements. The first section, the exegesis, examines what it means to be a conjoined twin. It explores the representation of conjoined twins from early historical narratives to the present day. Each chapter reflects the shifting passage of their representation. Chapter 1, Freaks, traces their exploitation in sideshows and performances. Chapter 2, Separation examines medical narratives about modern surgical separation interventions. Chapter 3, Normal, explores contemporary representations in film and fiction. I also examine conjoined twins who have chosen to remain as they are and to live their lives in a single, joined state. The final chapter, Storytelling, explores my novella which is based on the lives of two conjoined sisters and what creative issues I faced as I wrote it.

The second section of the thesis is my novella Silvie and Van, in which I create two conjoined sisters who undergo separation surgery. I trace their separated lives located in the contemporary world with its focus on beauty and so called normality. This novella attempts to creatively examine a number of the key questions I raise in my critical work, including: how conjoined twins are viewed by the external and single bodied world? What happens when these twins are separated? What is the potential emotional, physical and symbolic significance of separation on the human psyche?

Through these critical and creative explorations I hope to demonstrate how conjoined twins have been represented and misrepresented through the ages, and how they have managed to maintain their agency, despite the complexities of their birth.