The cunning folk

Van Luyn, Ariella (2014) The cunning folk. [Creative Work]

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[Extract] On their third day without food, Billy shows his sons how to draw the symbol. He takes a handful of charred kindling, burnt out in the pot-bellied stove, and gives a piece to each of them. He uses the bottom of a mug to make the outer circle, shows them how to hold it steady against the plasterboard wall and trace around its rim. He should have a compass but he sold his, borrowed the boss's when he had to.

The boys' outlines are crooked. Dane can't hold the cup up single-handedly. His wrist shakes and he draws wildly. He swears when he pulls the cup away to reveal a vague shape. Malcolm cuffs his older brother across the back of the head and Dane drops the cup, chipping the rim.

Research Statement

Research Background 'The Cunning Folk' is a short story from my PhD, which investigates the ways a fiction writer can enter a dialogue with the mandates of oral history. In Australia, the relationship between fiction writers and historians has been contested. In particular, Inga Clendinnen (2006) argues that novelists challenge historians' role as custodians of the past, but that the novelists' imagination cannot adequately represent the past because contemporary assumptions are imposed on the representations. Oral history scholarship draws attention to the need to challenge traditional constructions of grand historical narratives by representing individual, marginalised stories. Oral histories are seen as evidence of the way the past in interpreted in the present (Grele 2006, 59).'The Cunning Folk' responds to these tensions in the fields of history and oral history by representing a little-known aspect of Australia’s past through the imagined subjectivity of one character.
Research Contribution 'The Cunning Folk' demonstrates that fiction is not an act of replacing historian's representations of the past, but another means of exploring how the present inflects these representations. Through experimenting with the gap between what Gerard Genette describes as 'who sees and who speaks' in the narrative, the story explores the imaginative act of constructing an identity through narrative. This awareness of the constructed nature of identity reflects theory in oral history.
Research Significance This story challenges earlier notions of history as truthful representations of the past. Instead, the story implies that, in the postmodern tradition, representations of the past are highly constructed.
Item ID: 37393
Item Type: Creative Work (Original Work - Textual Work - NTRO)
ISSN: 0030-7416
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Copyright Information: Available Open Access via the publisher's website.
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2016 03:08
FoR Codes: 19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing > 190402 Creative Writing (incl Playwriting) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950203 Languages and Literature @ 100%
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