Womanhood & the Body
: An investigation of experience, community, and reclamation, through Practice as Research.

  • Laura Walker

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Research (awarded by UHI)


This thesis interrogates two central arguments in relation to Feminism,
through Practice as Research (PaR). Firstly, I propose a return to the
body in Feminist theory as a way of reclaiming it from the violence of
society and its participants – specifically from the societal violence of
negative ‘body image’ and the physical violence of sexual assault and
male-body bias. Secondly, I question the notion of a ‘shared experience’
of womanhood, investigating the ethics of this sentiment – which implies
that universality undermines complex and crucial intersectionality – in
contrast to the evidence that, for some women, this shared experience is
part of the experience of womanhood.
The PaR element of this research includes reflections on performer
journals and audience responses to a devised work-in-progress
performance. The performance was devised using physical theatres to
explore the themes of womanhood. The creative themes were derived
from field research, in the form of a survey, which asked women to
reflect on their relationship with their body.
I entered this research asking what physical theatres can offer
Feminist narratives onstage but, as I began to explore phenomenology,
my research evolved into a question of what it is to experience
womanhood. Through an organic process of discovery, the research led to
a return to a Feminism that considers the body as a central aspect of
women’s experiences, and a reclamation of the body by women. This
thesis will evaluate the theoretical and practical research elements, and
analyse what they offer to this line of inquiry.
Date of Award5 Apr 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of the Highlands and Islands
SupervisorLesley Mickel (Supervisor) & Andrew Jennings (Supervisor)

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