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Littoral fictions: Writing Tasmania and newfoundland

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Polack, FM (2002) Littoral fictions: Writing Tasmania and newfoundland. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This thesis examines contemporary literary fiction which takes either
the Canadian island of Newfoundland or the Australian island of
Tasmania as its imaginative terrain. Utilising a comparative
framework, it juxtaposes narratives which have helped construct these
regional spaces during the last twenty-five years of the twentieth
century.
Informed by post-modern spatial theory, 'Littoral Fictions' is premised
on the argument that places are produced, rather than simply reflected,
in literary and other modes of cultural expression. Particularly
important to the thesis are Michel de Certeau's assertion that 'every
story is a travel story - a spatial practice' (The Practice of Everyday Life
115), and Fredric Jameson's contention that cultural and economic
production are inextricably intertwined. Consequently, the thesis seeks
to determine how and why Tasmania and Newfoundland figure
within recent fiction, and to consider the ramifications of their
constructions.
'Littoral Fictions' examines writing about leaving, walking around,
and coming home to regional spaces. In the process, it addresses the
work of Christopher Koch, Dennis Altman, Paul Bowdring, Wayne
Johnston, Patrick Kavanagh, Robert Drewe, Mudrooroo, Bernice
Morgan, Richard Flanagan and E. Annie Proulx, in particular detail.
The thesis finds that Newfoundland and Tasmania play comparable,
instigative roles within narratives hinging on the alternate spatial
trajectories it identifies. Only rarely do these islands serve as sketchy
or neutral backgrounds. Instead, their landscapes and histories are
presented in detail, and important shifts in narrative action are
associated with movements to, from, or within their boundaries. Paradoxically, the more insistently the islands are evoked as
geographically, culturally and/or economically marginal, the more
significant their role in the narrative - even to the point of their
serving as representative spaces within national imaginaries. Literary
constructions of Tasmania and Newfoundland diverge and converge
in more specific ways, too. Stories about leaving the two islands are
quite different, for instance, whilst the resemblance between narratives
of homecoming is remarkable .
. 'Littoral Fictions' does identify signs of a shift in the ways Tasmania
and Newfoundland are spatialised in some recent writing. The thesis
concludes by speculating that moves to figure the islands as more fully
integrated with the world beyond their shores portend an important
re-conceptualisation. In identifying parallels in typical figurations of
Tasmania and Newfoundland, 'Littoral Fictions' seeks to participate in
the project of constructing new connections between the respective
islands and places elsewhere.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
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Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2013 03:56
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 01:06
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