Describing the Toad – Opportunities and Challenges in Writing the Workplace Novel

  • Paula Hendry

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis is submitted alongside my published novel, Allegation (2020), in fulfilment of the requirements for the PhD in writing. Allegation is a crime genre non-police procedural, in which the protagonist is a child protection social worker. The novel is firmly rooted in the day-to-day world of the social work task and its dilemmas.

    Linking in to the theme of Allegation, the thesis examines the topic of work in the novel, noting that this is under-examined in academic research, with the exception of the genres of crime and spy fiction. The thesis notes and addresses the absence of a widely accepted definition of the workplace novel and proposes a distinction between those novels that are only nominally ‘workplace’ and those that make use of the detail of work as source material. Noting an argument made by some commentators that work barely features in novels of the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries, the thesis nonetheless identifies a number of examples of workplace novels of this period. The challenges and opportunities that the topic of work presents for the writer are then examined, with detailed reference to a number of specific texts, and proposals for some areas of further research. Finally, the thesis analyses the particular dilemmas that arose in writing about the social work profession in Allegation.
    Date of Award2023
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDiana Wallace (Supervisor) & Barrie Llewelyn (Supervisor)

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