Back to school

This is an edited version of an update I recently posted this on my Patreon page. I will probably use my wordpress blog (the one you are reading) to write about my research.

You may have seen my recent big news via twitter. I am now officially a uni student — again. I’m doing a Masters of Creative Arts (Research) through the University of Technology Sydney. How good is that!

You might have also noticed me share, over the past year, how my academic pursuits were killed off years ago due to another uni’s draconian student union, lack of finances and the pressure of sole parenting. Thanks to some great support (one deadly sis in particular) and the passage of time, decades of obstacles have finally been knocked down.

One of the obstacles – financial – was overcome through a successful scholarship application. Which means — two years regular income! A liveable income!! I am so happy to say bye bye to financial hardship and extreme stress. [I will still need to be cautious with finances but no longer have the uncertainty of getting through the week]

A creative arts Master by research involves independent research of a chosen theme, and a creative piece. So I will have the beginning of a new novel or novella when I finish in two years time.

I will still be writing fiction and non-fiction unrelated to the research. I don’t want study to stop me writing; not after it’s taken me this long to find my feet as an emerging writer.

The working title of my research project is: Unearthing Blak Magic: First Peoples’ assertion of agency and retelling of colonisation history through writing magic realism.

Below is an edited extract from my research proposal, explaining the project, but this will change as I get into the literature review:

Sitting under the umbrella of speculative fiction, magic realism is more a literary device than a genre. It is a style of writing that is often misunderstood and underappreciated, and writers of magic realism in Australia do not have many peers or mentors to connect with.

First Peoples within many colonised nations have merged magic realism with their traditional storytelling techniques, to retell contested social and political histories of colonisation. 

Magic realism is often used to retell macro events (trauma of colonisation, genocide, war) through micro narratives (family, culture, place, everyday life). This style of storytelling suits writers wanting to reframe social-political relationships between coloniser and colonised in a palatable manner for a broad audience. The brutal creation of Australia-the-colony, and maintenance of the settler-coloniser state, could be suitably portrayed through works of magic realism. 

There are some magic realism novels written by non-Indigenous Australian writers (including non-white writers) but very few published works by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writers; despite a growing interest by many of these writers to explore speculative and/or literary fiction. 

There has been a small increase in speculative fiction written by First Peoples in Australia, but this is mostly limited to middle-primary or YA novels.  Lack of publication might be due to Australian publishers’ lack of awareness of emerging forms of Indigenous fiction, or no confidence in the commercially viable of these works. 

Internationally, magic realism and other types of speculative fiction by Indigenous and non-white writers are commercially popular, and even winning notable awards.

An in-depth study of First Peoples’ speculative fiction (with a focus on magic realism) in Australia would be of benefit to writers and readers, and the literature and publishing sectors. 

The proposal might sound boring to many people, but I’m looking forward to getting into this research project. I’ve been interested in magic realism, and similar allegorical socio-political forms of storytelling, for a long time. So, I sort of started this research years ago.

I wanted this project to have a research impact that is beneficial to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writers and the Australian literature/publishing sector. So the project will also look out what supports (mentoring, resources, opportunities etc) First Peoples writers want/need, and how can the literature/publishing sector better support First Peoples writers to reach their career aspirations.

I hope you enjoy updates on this project, as well as other works I will share.

Karen

Image: my well-travelled satchel, made from a truck tyre.

 

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