Doctoral Work

PhD in English Literature & Creative Writing

University of Birmingham, UK
Brianna began her doctoral studies via full-time distance learning in January 2013, submitted in August 2016, and successfully defended her Viva in November 2016. Brianna received her PhD diploma on July 5, 2017. Her PhD is in English Literature and Creative Writing and culminated in both a novel, The Collection, and an analytic dissertation.

Her research focuses on how women are written about by women, why women still are not allowed to be angry, and how to express that anger in fiction about women. She also explores the rift between aging parents and their adult children caused firstly by age difference (Generation Gap), but consequently by differing mores, values, religion, and culture. The additional factor of mental illness is essential in both her novel and critical work, as she addresses the trauma an adult child may still carry with her from her childhood when her parents both suffer from mental illness.

Brianna is currently seeking literary agent representation for The Collection. Please contact her here if you are interested in reading an excerpt.

Dissertation Abstract

The Collection tells the story of Barbara, a fifty-something, Christian, teacher, wife, and mother, as she is forced to return home after her estranged father’s death. Named executrix of his estate, Barbara navigates family secrets, repressed childhood trauma, and her mentally ill father’s legacy. Using Attachment Theory and Intergenerational Theories of Personal Development, this research discusses the development and relationships of the characters in The Collection to demonstrate the connections between their child and adult selves—specifically, the role of Barbara’s parents and childhood in her suppressed anger. Framed within the context of Carolyn G. Heilbrun’s feminist critique of women writers and women characters, this paper connects socio-psychological theories to investigate how the patriarchal gender norms Barbara’s mother instilled in her daughter result in Barbara’s suppressed anger, strained interpersonal relationships and adult religiosity. The relationship between adult Barbara and her aging mother is discussed in context of these theories and compared against women characters in Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. Finally, the paper calls for further research into and understanding of the causes and effects of women’s anger, as well as an essential shift in how both men and women are permitted to express emotions.
Brianna presenting at 2017 Graduate Women International Triennial Conference in Cape Town, South Africa

Conference Presentations

  • Excerpt reading during UVI’s National Library Week (April 2014)
  • Excerpt reading at Virgin Islands Writers’ Association’s (VIWA) first conference (March 2014)