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Meg Jensen is an academic leader and a highly skilled teacher (Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy UK) and curriculum innovator in the fields of Creative Writing and English Literature, a theoretician, analyst and research-led practitioner, whose research attracts grant capture and is recognised nationally for its impact. As Director of the Life Narrative Research Group at Kingston and a longstanding member of the International Association of Autobiographical Studies (IABA), she is a recognized internationally as an authority on the relationship between trauma and autobiographical writing.
Originally from New York, Meg Jensen came to the UK in 1991 and began her PhD at Queen Mary College, University of London. Her first monograph was developed during this time, The Open Book: Creative Misreading in the Works of Selected Modernist Writers (Palgrave, 2002), which compared a wealth of autobiographical and fictional material by Modernist writers to explore the cross-currents at work in the construction of English writing from Thomas Hard to Virginia Woolf.
She joined Kingston as a part time lecturer in English Literature in 1996, and was full time staff by 2000. Soon after, she developed and then validated the first Creative Writing BA joint hons degree in the UK a program which continues to flourish, and on which she continues to teach, to this day.
As a development of her interest in auto/biographical materials, she formed the Centre for Life Narratives at Kingston University (now the Life Narrative Research Group) in 2007 as the hub of an international research network that brings together scholars, practitioners and writers of all genre of life narratives for funded research projects, seminars, conferences and readings.
Her research, which focuses on representations of human rights violation and/or traumatic experience in all forms and the social, cultural, gendered and familial contexts in which such expressions are produced, was influential in the creation of Kingston’s Military Writing Network, a case study for 2014 REF in which Kingston University was ranked number one in the UK for research impact.
In 2016 Meg Jensen and her collaborator Siobhan Campbell from the Open University co-authored The Expressive Writing Handbook upon which much of her current research work based. This work explores the effectiveness of Expressive Writing, a form of life story-writing and telling used to support well-being for survivors of trauma.
Recent applied projects, funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the UNDP, assessed the effectiveness of Expressive Writing methodologies with women victims of sexual violence in conflict in Iraq while AHRC funded work has researched the use of Expressive Writing and telling with women refugees in Lebanon.
In 2017, Meg Jensen produced a series of filmed “refugee diaries” which formed the basis of an installation for and exhibition on Diaries at Somerset House London. These filmed diaries were collected by human rights defenders working with refugees in Yemen, Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Yazidi refugees in Iraq en route to Germany, and reflections from a refugee camp in Germany by an Azeri exile. It drew large viewing audiences and received critical praise for raising awareness of the traumatic experiences of refugees through life story-telling. The films can be viewed here.
Meg Jensen's most recent publications include the monograph The Art and Science of Trauma and the Autobiographical: Negotiated Truths, Palgrave 2019, which evaluates a range of life narrative forms that represent traumatic experience (memoir, testimony, poetry, graphic novels, monuments, autobiographical novels, etc) and consider the relationship between such works and current behavioural, psychological, and neurochemical approaches to diagnosing and treating traumatic disorders. Her practice-based research takes the form of creative non-fiction and autobiographical novels concerned with representations of traumatic experience.
1992 – 1996: University of London, Queen Mary, University of London
Degree: PhD, English 1996 (19th and 20th C)Thesis: Influence and Intertextuality in the Works of Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield
1989 – 1991: New York University
Degree: Master of Arts in English, with Distinction 1991
1981 - 1985: Sarah Lawrence College, New York
Degree: BA, Liberal Arts, concentration in biomedical science and writing, Senior Class President
Monographs: Swimming in Hurricanes (autobiographical novel). Agented and on submission with US and UK commercial publishers
Edited chapters: “Testimony” in The Routledge Companion to Literature and Trauma, Colin Davis and Hanna Meretoja , eds. London: Routledge, 2019.
“Speaking Trauma and History: The Collective Voice of Testimonial Literature” in The Palgrave Handbook to Cold War Literature, Andrew Hammond ed, London: Palgrave, 2019.
Monograph: The Art and Science of Trauma and the Autobiographical: Negotiated Truths, Palgrave: Life Writing Series, January 2019.
Co-Authored Book: The Expressive Life Writing Handbook, co-authored Ebook with Siobhan Campbell. Beyond Borders Scotland/ The Stablisation and Recovery Network Publishing, 2016
‘Surviving the Wreck: Post-traumatic Writers, Bodies in Transition and the Point of Autobiographical Fiction’ in LifeWriting 14:1, 2017.
*‘Post-Traumatic Memory Projects: Autobiographical Fiction and Counter-monuments’ Textual Practice 28:4 (2014), pp. 701-725.
“Reiterative Practice in Action: The Women In Conflict Expressive
Life Writing Project,” co-authored with Siobhan Campbell. Research Methods in Life Narrative Studies, ed. Kate Douglas and Ashley Barnwell. (Routledge, 2019).
“How art constitutes the Human: Aesthetics, Literary Empathy, and the Interesting in Autofiction” in Autofictions in English, H Dix, ed. (Palgrave, 2018.)
“The Legible Face of Human Rights in Autobiographical Fiction” in McClennen and Moore, eds. The Routledge Companion to Literature and Human Rights, pp 184-192 (Routledge, 2015).
“The Fictional is Political: Forms of Appeal in Autobiographical Fiction and Poetry” in Jensen and Jolly, eds. ‘We Shall Bear Witness: Life Narratives and Human Rights (Wisconsin, 2014)
Monograph: The Open Book: Creative Misreading in the Works of Selected Modern Writers. New York and London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.
Edited Collections: ‘We Shall Bear Witness”: Life Narratives and Human Rights. Edited Collection. Co-editor with Margaretta Jolly, University of Wisconsin Press, July 2014.
Life Writing: The State of the Art and The Spirit of the Age, Co-Editor with Jane Jordan, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009.
Special Issue: Literature Compass: Special Cluster Life Writing and Critical Practice, co-editor with M Jolly, 8.12 (Dec 2011).
“The Writer's Diary as Borderland: The Public and Private Selves of Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield and Louisa May Alcott,” Life Writing, 9.3 (2012), pp. 315-325.
‘Getting to know me in theory and practice: negotiated truth and mourning in autobiographical fiction’ in Literature, 8.12 (Dec 2011) pp 941-950.
“Life Writing in theory and practice,” A/B Autobiography Studies. 24.2, (Winter 2009), pp. 299-314.
“The Anxiety of Daughterhood, or Using Bloom to Read Women Writers: The Cases of Louisa May Alcott and Virginia Woolf” Literature Compass 4:4 (2007),pp. 1208–1226.
Edited Chapters: "Moments of Being in Virginia Woolf's Major Novels", Morag Shiach, ed, The Cambridge Companion to the Modernist Novel (Cambridge University Press, 2007).
“The State of the Art and The Story So Far: An Introduction to Life Writing, Life Narratives and The Spirit of the Age Collection,” in Life Writing: The State of the Art and The Spirit of the Age, CSP 2009.
Fiction in “Something Beautiful for Mary,” New Writing: The International
Peer Reviewed Journal: Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing, 9:3, 2012.
Fiction: My Watergate Summer (2017) autobiographical novel manuscript in draft.