2017 Academic Programme

HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY AUSTRALASIA
Melbourne CONFERENCE
8th – 10th SEPTEMBER 2017
IDENTITY: ORIGINS AND DIASPORA

Saturday 9th September 2017

Academic Programme

Time

12.15 – 1.15 pm

Venue

LEVEL 5, ROOM AMDC506

AMDC Building
Swinburne University of Technology
Hawthorn Campus

12.15 – 1.15 pm Session Four

Bio-fiction: Can you defame the dead?

Historical biofictions are stories based on the lives of real people from the past: monarchs or murderers, soldiers or suffragettes, artists or con artists, rebels, farmers, family. Drs Kelly Gardiner, Catherine Padmore, Kate Forsyth, Ariella van Luyn, and Gabrielle Ryan will examine the questions involved in writing and reading fictional representations of historical figures; the literary and cultural impact of the works, and their significance for our present and future.

Abstracts:

Abstract: Fact and fiction of forgotten women by Dr Kate Forsyth

My historical novels are inspired by the true lives of forgotten women, such as Charlotte-Rose de la Force, who wrote ‘Rapunzel’; Dortchen Wild, the unacknowledged oral source of many Grimm fairy-tales; the courageous women of the German resistance; and Lizzie Siddal, Jane Morris and Georgie Burne-Jones, women of the Pre-Raphaelite sisterhood. Each novel endeavours to give them back their silenced voices. Yet, for most of these real-life women, only fragments of their history remained. My research discovered unknown facts and unexplored possibilities, which I then sought to weave into compelling fiction that nonetheless illuminated the inner lives of these fascinating women.


Abstract: The past no longer belongs to those who lived it’?: Representing forgotten criminal women in historical biofictions by Dr Ariella Van Luyn

Historical fiction writers are sometimes drawn to the true stories of criminal women, subjects unable to give their consent. Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) was inspired by runaway slave Margaret Garner, Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace (1997) centers on the trial of Grace Marks, and Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites (2013) reimagines the life and death of Agnes Magnusdottir. In my own creative work, I fictionalise the life of petty thief and sex worker Lizzie O’Dea. This paper will examine the ways the often elliptical and unreliable historical records, the collective forgetting of women criminals in national mythologies, and the discomfort of the voyeuristic gaze make representations of women criminals in historical biofiction a fraught act.


Abstract: A rose by any other name … can still be historical biofiction by Gabrielle Ryan

My paper will focus on the naming of characters in historical biofiction, challenging Michael Lackey’s assertion that protagonists in biofiction must be named after a real historical figure. I will consider recent examples of Australian novels where the main character is a recognisable historical figure even after that character’s name has been changed. I will explore novelists’ decisions about naming characters and what freedoms or restrictions each decision carries. And I will explore the question of where the line lies: how much change can a character sustain before the novel is no longer biographical enough to be considered biofiction?


Abstract: Reanimating outlaws by Drs Catherine Padmore & Kelly Gardiner

This paper will analyse the fictional afterlives of two outlaw figures from the Australian historical record: Ned Kelly (1854-1880) and Jimmy Governor (1875-1901) as they appear in Thomas Keneally’s The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972), Robert Drewe’s Our Sunshine (1993) and Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang (2000). Both Kelly and Governor were young men at the time of their execution and were responsible for multiple deaths, yet their cultural trajectories into the present have been very different. When interviewed in 1984, Keneally demonstrated an acute awareness of the role of fiction to make parallels between past and present, and self-awareness about the ethical challenges of non-Indigenous writers creating Indigenous characters. We will similarly examine the authorial intent driving Carey and Drewe when representing Ned Kelly, alongside the cultural currency of the still-controversial figure. We argue that such figures, reanimated in literature, demonstrate the continuing impact of the past in the present.

General Admission for Conference Attendees

Entry to the Academic Programme is included in the Weekend or Day Only ticket prices but seating is limited. Please book your place by booking a free place in the session.

Limit: 20 persons

Cost: Free

Sunday 10th September 2017

Academic Programme

Time

10.00 am -12.30 pm (2 hours plus tea break)

Venue

LEVEL 5, ROOM AMDC506

AMDC Building
Swinburne University of Technology
Hawthorn Campus

10.00 am – 11:00 am Session Two

‘The Lie of History’: How the Mirror of the Present Shapes the Past for its Own Purposes – Part 1

There is no question that we are constructions of our own times, and the writing of history is always shaped by those who recount the past for their own purposes. How does the mirror of the present day reflect and dictate the telling of history? Do we filter a version of history that tells more about us than the times of long ago through what we choose to reveal and erase? Dr Wendy J Dunn will discuss these questions with panel members Drs Glenice Whitting, Diane Murray, Gillian Polack, and Cheryl Hayden.

Abstracts:

Abstract: Writing Hidden Stories by Dr Glenice Whitting

In any society, there are many forms of cultural and personal censorship that prevent the telling of tales considered unpalatable, unsavoury, subversive or insignificant. The result is that written history can be one sided, dominated by strong cultural groups, the stories of minorities unvalued and unrecorded. These stories cry out to be heard and with every life extinguished, we lose part of our collective memory. So how do writers give voice to neglected stories of human beings who have been damaged deeply by world events?


Abstract: What we do without knowing: identifying silencing, inclusion and stereotyping in historical fiction by Dr Gillian Polack

This paper will examine how writers change the past to create fiction, focussing on approaches that result (intentionally or otherwise) in silencing, inclusion or stereotyping.

Novels change history to meet narrative needs. This silences some groups, leaves others out of the story entirely, and leaves others as stereotypes. Some of this is inevitable and, in fact, essential to the way writers present historical fiction. Other elements are avoidable.

Are there methods of analysis that can be used to identify these aspects of a novel? How can writers combat exclusion, silencing and stereotyping without damaging the stories they need to tell?


Abstract: The Unpaid Debt – Getting Credit for Lies by Dr Diane Murray

When writing historical biography, borrowing from the life of another to write a history in the present can create a perceived debt to the subject in the author’s mind. This clandestine obligation generates an emotional connection of self as “other” by allowing the psychoanalytical phenomena of transference and countertransference to filter the writing through the psyche of the writer’s unconscious mind and their perception of “what was”.

This transference shifts the responsibility for the story’s re-direction onto the writer and allows the paradigms of memory and empathy, through self-reflexive strategies, to determine the final form of the story through unreliable truths.


Abstract: Knit Two, Drop Four: Finding lost heroes in the holes of history’s knitting by Cheryl Hayden (PhD candidate, Flinders University)

Across the western world globalisation is creating renewed nationalist fervour, and with it, renewed interest in the historiographies from which nations draw their identities. The Tudor dynasty in 16th Century England is today being analysed and glorified throughout popular culture, confirming in the minds of the English and their diaspora, of the ‘rightness’ of the Protestant reformation and the victory of the nation state over the backward, evil threat presented by Catholicism. Is it possible, today, to unpick this entrenched historiography to repatriate the stories of those who suffered for this cause?

11.30-12.30 pm Session Three

‘The Lie of History’: How the Mirror of the Present Shapes the Past for its Own Purposes – Part 2

To add to our academic panel discussion on this subject, HNSA is delighted and honoured to have in conversation Professor Josie Arnold and Christopher Raja, author of The Burning Elephant, who will discuss this question in depth.

General Admission for Conference Attendees

Entry to the Academic Programme is included in the Weekend or Day Only ticket prices but seating is limited. Please book your place by booking a free place in the session.

Limit: 20 persons

Cost: Free

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