By Claire Aitchison
Over the summer break I pack in as much reading for pleasure as I possibly can. This objective is in no small part a mechanism for disengaging from work and for propelling my brain into other worlds. This summer I read Barbara Kingsolver’s new book ‘Unsheltered’. I really enjoyed it. But here I want to talk about coherence devices she used which I think have relevance for doctoral thesis writing.
Barbara Kingsolver’s story is set in two time periods: 1871 and 2016, with chapters that take it in turns to develop two separate stories with different characters and events. The devices she uses for connecting these different worlds and times are clever and illuminating—and essential for avoiding confusion. At the beginning the reader (or at least this reader) was mildly unsettled; the first chapter is neat and self-contained, but then into chapter two I found myself checking to see if I’d missed anything—what was I reading now? How did this connect to what I’d just read? Were the chapters to remain two parallel tales or would they come together, and how? Such an intriguing way to draw in the leisurely reader. I had many questions, but I had to suspend my curiosity and just keep on reading. I didn’t mind, I had all the time in the world–and I was already hooked in. I knew she was a good writer and my patience would be rewarded.
But would this work for a doctoral thesis? Continue reading