University of Brighton Alumni Association

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Meet one of our new graduates

Joseph Lee attended our February 2022 graduation ceremonies. Here is his story so far….

My MA experience at University of Brighton

I graduated from my full time MA study in Creative Writing in 2021, with a high distinction.

During my year of study at University of Brighton, I sharpened my writing skills across a variety of modules including rhetoric, poetry and narrative, as well as becoming a course representative and even publishing an e-book, all remotely!

Through the connections and contributions I made during the MA, I had the opportunity to work on a project outside the classroom for the internationally recognised arts celebration, Brighton Festival. Along with a diverse range of talented Sussex based writers, led by mentors Neil Bartlett MBE and Akila Richards, this commissioned work was part of a headline show for the festival in 2021, where I recorded my poetry to feature in an installation at Theatre Royal.

In summer 2021 my attention returned to completing my final assignment for the course, my 20,000-word dissertation. My creative and research-led project ‘The role of the saga in the modern-day: Bearing the tradition or delivering the new?’ achieved the highest grade in the cohort (87%). The creative element of my dissertation explored the identity of the Black Country and its people over the past 200 years, submitted as an oral recital to highlight how language thrives through rhythm, accent and spoken storytelling.  The critical element investigated how political, sociocultural identities are presented within poetic narratives from Old Norse to the present day, concluding the saga form as an ideal tool for social commentary.

I’m delighted to say that I was awarded the Holly Raber Prize for Most Creative Dissertation, a memorial prize for former Creative Writing MA student, Holly Raber, who sadly passed away last year. Jess Moriarty, Creative Writing MA Course Leader had this to say: Congratulations on a really brilliant dissertation, I am so happy to tell you that you have won the Holly Raber Prize. The whole course team agreed that as well as writing an outstanding piece, you have also had a tremendous impact on the course and your peer group and it is absolutely right that you are our 2022 winner. The loss of Holly still hurts many on the course, both students and tutors alike, but memories of her and her legacy are always happy… and now you are part of that!

It is an honour to be nominated and receive this prize in recognition of my contribution to the course and my work, whilst celebrating Holly’s life, writing and lasting achievements.

What are you up to now?

Now that I’ve graduated I continue to craft words creatively as a freelance writer, helping brands and businesses communicate who they are through language. As well as working with start-up businesses, like managing communications and community for creative freelancer app, Amuzn, and research writing for a men’s healthcare brand, I also work with established creative studios and branding agencies as a copywriter.

I help build brands by creating verbal identities and narratives that help to elevate their message. It’s a lot more than just coming up with a catchy tagline or social media caption though, strategic thinking and written brand guidelines are the key to underpinning a consistent and engaging tone of voice for businesses.

I’ve built an online portfolio to showcase some of my work

What about further study?

I’m looking to continue my academic study in the future too, having just been accepted by University of Brighton for PhD study.

The sociocultural, political and identity pressures evident in the lives of male characters in my MA dissertation drew my attention more closely to the realisation of male identity and masculinity. The various manifestations and interpretations of masculinity and how it is expressed is something I have experienced first-hand in different ways, whilst in working-class factory settings, as well as within the creative industry.

My research thesis aims to investigate the relationship between masculinity and the ‘word-hoard’, through textual analysis of Old Norse poetic narratives and participatory practice of poetry with young men in the present day. Further investigation into how male identity is expressed through poetry, from past to present day, seems like a natural progression for me to research at PhD level.

Completing a PhD at University of Brighton will enable me to continue producing work within a creative and collaborative academy, exploring the arts through academia to help myself and others make sense of the world.

Nic Ashton • February 16, 2022

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  1. Alan Meggs February 16, 2022 - 10:37 am Reply

    Fantastic news! From a fellow creative writing ma alumnus. And someone who was in the room when you crossed the stage, making sure the whole cohort was beautifully lit.

    • Joseph Lee April 30, 2022 - 7:14 pm Reply

      Hi Alan,

      Thanks for your kind words. Pleasure to be in great company with you and the fellow CW gang!

      All the best,

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