School of Health in Social Science

Family secrets

‘Writing the wrongs of the lingering past’: Four generations in a long line of strong Scottish women. My research focuses on unresolved and unacknowledged matrilineal grief that has been passed down across several generations of working-class women in a Scottish community.

by Jan Bradford 

Inspired by “l’ecriture feminine” where Cixous (1976) calls woman to write herself, to write about women, bring women to writing and write herself into history, my doctoral research allows for playful-adventurous-tentative free-associative-stream-of-conscious writing voices to be untethered and unleashed through my body as I write to inquire.  A close reading of my writings-in-progress generated a series of “writing stories”  (Richardson, 2001) that can be reinterpreted as they are rooted in particular periods of history, political contexts and particular geographies thus allowing new stories to surface and emerge.

Acknowledging that the social space we inhabit is historically generated (Skeggs, 1997) my research draws on psychoanalytic, sociological and folklore literatures around transgenerational trauma.  Bringing classed and gendered voices back in to the research-picture, my project explores how working-class women have been silenced and demonstrates the ways in which silenced/passive/unheard voices from our past linger - alive-and-kicking -  as they call out to be acknowledged and heard in our present.


Cixous, H., Cohen, K., & Cohen, D. (1976). The Laugh of the Medusa. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 1(4), 875-893.

Richardson, L. (2001). Getting personal: Writing -stories. Qualitative Studies in Education, 14(1), 33-38.

Skeggs, B. (1997). Formations of Class and Gender: Becoming Respectable. London: Sage Publications.