Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of the Arts, English and Media


This research examines the process of writing a memoir as an example of selfsurveillance, combining a thesis and creative component. The thesis explores how the process of writing a memoir can be understood by examining the analogous practice of surveillance. Supported by a research background that ranges across critical, literary and cultural theory, the Methodology gives a dichotomous ‘problems and solutions’ framework for using textual and discursive analysis to unpack the functioning of narrative identity within three contemporary Australian case studies: Guantanamo: My Journey by David Hicks (2010), In My Skin by Kate Holden (2005), and The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do (2010).

To discover if memoir can be seen to function similarly to surveillance, the surveillant functions, classification and risk mitigation, are examined to uncover the ‘problems’ in the case studies. These functions are discovered through the memoirist’s shift into the ‘narrator’ role and the self-protective aspects that come into play as they position themselves as ‘subject’. Expanding on this understanding, the thesis then asks if writing a memoir provides similar results to surveillance, or how the case studies demonstrate ‘solutions’. It does this by exploring the outcomes of discipline, shown by the shifting ‘narrative identity’ of the narrator/subject, and resistance, to be discovered through their positioning to discursive forces and their ability or inability to challenge and intersect with these.

The final chapter of the thesis takes an exegetical stance to the creative work Snakes and Ladders: A memoir, applying the same ‘problems and solutions’ framework to understanding and strengthening my own creative practice.

FoR codes (2008)

190402 Creative Writing (incl. Playwriting)



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.