School of Culture and Communication - Theses
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ItemThe search for a narrative truth; a study of the reader as creative thinkerJones, Thomas Kenneth ( 2010)The creative component of this thesis, entitled ‘The Eagle Scouts of America’ is the beginning of a novel centred on a political scandal in 1970’s America. The narrator seems eminently reliable. He is unabashed in his telling of lies and plans to lie and manipulate, to the extent that the reader is inclined to believe and trust him. However, while the reader becomes guilty in participating in the deception, it does not occur to the reader that the narrator may be lying or manipulating them as well. Restrictions on the length of this thesis means only the first five chapters of the novel have been included. The theory component is a study of the features of unreliable narration and how readers need to respond to gain the most enjoyment and insight that this form of narrative has to offer. I suggest that, when the truth does not exist within the narrative itself, the reader is encouraged to think creatively and develop their own reader based narrative truth. Upon starting a new novel, which contains a first person narrator, the reader begins with the expectation, that the narrator will be truthful and accurate in their account. When this expectation is not fulfilled, the reader’s experience of the text and his or her role in relation to the text are reformed, not only permitting but requiring of the reader an engagement in creative thinking about the narrative. With specific reference to Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester, I look at the ways a reader can use what is contained in the unreliable narrative to determine for him/herself an understanding of the truth.
ItemNarratives of emergenceHills, Katherine Janet ( 2010)This thesis is a two-pronged creative and critical exploration of the mother-daughter relationship and female subjectivities as they emerge from or remain entwined within that relationship. Within this analysis, I also explore the tensions between female subjective crisis and agency, as they extend from the mother-daughter relationship. The critical component focusses on two autobiographical texts of twentieth-century French author, Violette Leduc. These texts, L’Asphyxie (1946) and La Bâtarde (1964), were originally published in French. However, I refer to the translations by Derek Coltman. Primarily, my questions investigate the ambivalence of the mother-daughter dynamic in Leduc’s texts and the impact of this ambivalence on female subjectivities. With the aid of object-relational theory and the psychoanalytic theories of Julia Kristeva, Judith Butler and Luce Irigaray, I explore how Leduc’s psychological patterns inform her textual practice and narrative temporality. In doing so, I propose that Leduc’s writing conveys female subjective crisis as a manifestation of the psychic struggle between the unconscious influences of both the paternal and maternal imaginaries and her personal, human desires for liberation from homogenous and suppressive sex/gender categories. I conclude that through a process of writing that engages “negative narcissism,” mimesis, and transgressive sexuality as modes of resistance, Leduc negotiates a stronger sense of herself, as an empowered figure of resistance, both inside and outside the text. The creative component, Spin is an autobiographically based novella dealing with similar complexities in the mother-daughter relationship. I approach subjective crisis from multiple angles, in its relationship to embodiment, gender, sexuality, agency and desire. Set in contemporary Melbourne, the narrative is staged around the residual pain of familial dysfunction. I explore melancholic attachment, alienation and the ambivalence of the mother-daughter dynamic from the perspective of a daughter, struggling to escape the legacy of a disturbing Tasmanian childhood, with a mentally unwell, absent mother and a father with Asperger’s syndrome.
ItemTelling tales : Helen Demidenko and the autobiographical pact & "The Pact"DENHAM, MELINDA ( 2010)As arguably the most notorious liar in contemporary Australian literature, Helen Demidenko has been the subject of hundreds of articles, and at least four books. Her 1995 novel The Hand that Signed the Paper had already won three literary prizes and attracted significant critical attention due to its controversial subject matter, when her fraudulent identity was revealed. The critical section of this thesis draws out the implications of the ‘Demidenko Affair’ by exploring Philippe Lejeune’s theory of the autobiographical pact, genre theory and contemporary book promotion and marketing practices. Using Gerard Génette’s notion of paratexts, and Stanley Fish’s idea of interpretive communities, I argue that many reviewers of The Hand that Signed the Paper read the novel as though it was an autobiography, and that this reading position contributed to the vehemence of the condemnation its author received when her fraudulent identity ‘Helen Demidenko’ was revealed. I use genre theory to analyse the tendency to ‘read autobiographically’, which emerges from a cultural context which includes the growing popularity of non-fiction books and the prevalence of book promotion strategies which draw on the author’s persona to lend credence to their book. The creative section of this thesis has a narrator who shares much of my biography: she is around the same age, grew up in the same area as I did and has a similar name. When she returns to her hometown after a decade-long absence and reunites with old friends, she discovers that the story she has told herself about her past is only one version of events. The exploration of a notionally autobiographical theme is overlaid by a fictional narrative structure which enables an ambiguous rendering of the ‘identity’ of author, narrator and protagonist proposed by Lejeune.