Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Jean Halley

Subject Categories

Creative Writing | Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


trauma writing


Awake is a novella based on true events in my own life. This capstone project addresses my own experiences with intimate partner violence. While it is inspired by my life, I chose to write a fictional narrative rather than a strictly biographical piece of nonfiction. Instead, this novella illustrates a few of the traumas that I went through from within the lens of a fictional narrative. This enabled me to tell about my experiences by crafting my memories into a story, without the pressure of submitting an accounting of them. Writing Awake has been helpful to me in that it led me to confront several of the issues that I have come up against while struggling to process these experiences and the way that they have affected me. I created this novella to share my story, both as part of the healing process for myself, and as part of my desire to connect with my community.

This project has been inspired by many texts that I have read during my classes in the CUNY MALS program, both in and out of the classroom. By reading these works, I was able to see how one can share their voice, receive validation, and contribute to our cultural conversations by telling their story. A few of these works include Beloved by Toni Morrison, Bag of Bones by Stephen King, and The Parallel Lives of Women and Cows: Meat Markets by Jean Halley. I noticed connections between fiction, autoethnography, and the ways in which we tell about trauma. Fiction provides the unique opportunity to explore trauma with creativity, whereas autoethnography welcomes experimental writing but stays true to realistic description and often engages with the theoretical frameworks that inform their context. Each of these methods of writing were inspiring to me and contributed to the vision for this novella.