Gillian Shirreffs

Research summary

My doctoral project is an exploration of the relationship between object and illness, with specific reference to multiple sclerosis, by means of the novel, Brodie, and a collection of essays and images entitled, Subject-Verb-Object. The creative element of my project is a novel that is narrated by an object (a copy of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie). The limitations of the narrator act as a metaphor, offering the reader something of the experience of neurological illness. The creative/critical element is an examination of three medical objects: an MRI scanner; a hypodermic needle and a medical plinth. The history, use and development of each object is interrogated in an attempt to offer a fresh perspective on the experience of illness. Uniting the two elements of my project, an essay, “There’s an Elephant in my Jam Jar” explores my own experience of the way in which animate and inanimate can become confused in a medical setting.


Teaching

  • Creative Writing as a Means of Distraction to Help Manage Chronic Pain

Additional information

Other Roles

  • My short fiction has appeared in Issue Number 2 of thi wurd and Tales From a Cancelled Country. My poetry exploring the experience of illness has appeared in MSConnect, The Second Tide and Tracks in the Sand.
  • I served on the board of The Mill: A Place for Writers, a not for profit organisation that seeks to support and develop writers in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley (2016-2017).
  • I was selected for the Playwrights’ Studio, Scotland 2015 mentoring programme and was mentored by Peter Arnott
  • I am editor of Step Inside Multiple Sclerosis: A Little Book of Letters - a collection of letters written by people living with multiple sclerosis that was published in 2014. An exhibition of the same name toured libraries in the summer of that year and the letters spent a week on display in the Scottish Parliament in November 2014.
  • As part of the 2014 Brain Awareness Week I spoke at a parliamentary event entitled Breaking the News: A Sensitive Supported Diagnosis for All.