Emerging from the Margins
: The Poetry of Chronic Illness, containing off-kilter (a poetry collection) and A Critical Examination of Contemporary British and Irish Poetry of Chronic Illness (a collection of essays)

  • Stephanie Conn

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis consists of a collection of original poetry entitled off-kilter and a critical reflexive analysis of contemporary British and Irish poetry of chronic illness. The poems in off-kilter are informed by the lived experience of chronic illness and together with the critical study demonstrate that poetry’s stylistic range and formal properties make it a medium well suited to expressing the experience of chronic illness. Within the Medical Humanities, literary critical writings about American writers and their works on illness, continue to dominate, as do prose narratives. Instead, this research focuses on British and Irish poetry and highlights a significant body of diverse and accomplished poetry on chronic illness. The specific focus on chronic illness addresses a complex contemporary problem for society and the medical profession, and, of course, the patient. As a PhD by Practice, the combination of original poetry, informed by the chronic illness experience, and an analysis of similar texts, reveal phenomenological insights into the experience of chronic illness, as well as literary insights into how that experience can effectively be inscribed in poetry. This research is underpinned by a phenomenological perspective on illness and adopts Robin Nelson’s model on Practice as Research.
Date of AwardApr 2022
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsDepartment for the Economy
SupervisorKathleen Mc Cracken (Supervisor) & Frank Sewell (Supervisor)


  • PhD by practice
  • Chronicity
  • Practice as research
  • Poetics

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