The unsaid and the walking away: seventeen stories about horses, violence, trauma and women

  • Sarah Morton

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis stories a quest for meaning and knowledge through the use of first-person action research. It starts, essentially with an issue of silence, a silence caused perhaps by trauma, and follows how I found myself writing a story. It then shows the development of my use of story as an inquiry method and as a way of discovering voice and saying what initially feels unsayable and unspeakable. The thesis is written in the form of stories and follows the trajectory of my ideas and inquiry, from the sublime experience of dressage practice and working with horses, through growing up within the context of terrorism and colonial occupation, to working with the issue of violence against women. I seek throughout the thesis to develop form that mirrors the issues I am exploring and so seek to capture and present the emergent quality of my knowing, rather than pretend that my research had a linear and easy path. This thesis then, attempts to present an ‘honesty trail’ that maps the confusion, challenges and different directions of a complex inquiry. In this sense I show you the development of my ideas and my method of inquiry of embodied writing, in action as such.

I also seek to draw on literature on action research, autoethnography, narrative therapy, trauma and violence against women and explore issues of knowledge generation, of sensemaking, confidence and of course, form. In the end this work considers how writing can be used as a way of negotiating life, of keeping. us connected to ourselves and the innate wisdom of our bodies, and also a way of keeping us connected to others. The thesis concludes with a consideration of story as an inquiry method and also a way of ‘writing to live’, a way of encapsulating all of the joy, horror and ordinariness of life and as a tool to negotiate the incoherence of life events.

Date of Award18 Jun 2008
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorK L McArdle (Supervisor) & Peter Reason (Supervisor)

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