The Doom of Clowns is a novel which satirically subverts voices emerging in the
context of neoliberalism since the 1970s, challenging dominant conceptions of the self
and society to suggest a sustainable, holistic culture. As interdisciplinary arts practice,
the novel develops personal experience using theoretical research and critical
The first question used in reflecting upon the novel is, can one use fiction to disrupt
neoliberal discourse? The critical essay examines the use of satire and Bakhtin’s
dialogic method in challenging monolithic narratives. The development of selfreflexive
satire in the story is also considered, in relation to the author’s role, the politics
of genre, autoethnography and the social contexts in which the novel was produced.
The second question used in reflecting upon the research is, what does it mean to be
human? The tale of an extraterrestrial who thinks he is a human, living through the
neoliberal age, the novel follows Arthur as his Farfaphian colleague Guinevere
attempts to awaken him. The novel explores competing secular and religious
worldviews, animal rights, cognitive dissonance, ambiguity, alternative communities
and a possibly transhuman future.
The third research question is, how does one use fiction to connect personal experience
to wider cultural and political issues? A Speculative auto-satire approach is developed
that draws upon personal experience to fictionally critique and subvert dominant
discourse. In developing this approach, I explore how my experience of living with a
mother who worked as a children’s clown is used in the novel. Theoretical perspectives
on the role of the clown, the dialogic and Luce Irigaray’s perceptions on the cultural
suppression of the maternal and feminine are examined. My participation in spiritual,
therapeutic and activist groups over the last twenty years is also related to this question.
The critical essay reflects on how my holistic voice became more reflexive and
humorous, to effectively connect personal experience with wider political issues.
The Doom of Clowns is a contribution to a tradition of satirical fiction that includes The
Metamorphoses by Apuleius, Jonathon Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Matt Haig’s The
Humans. Warning against neoliberal conceptions of scientific progress and economic
growth, the novel develops a reflexive, satirical approach that blurs fact and fiction to
connect personal experience with wider social issues. The Doom of Clown promotes a
holistic paradigm that engages with a call for social justice.
|Date of Award||2017|
The Doom of Clowns: A Novel and Critical Essay
Heywood, R. G. (Author). 2017
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis