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Please note: the conference is in BUILDING 2 on the UC Bruce campus. 
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DAILY FORECAST (care of Describing Things in Canberra):  

Wednesday Canberra weather: regardless of any thing Neil Finn may have said, you don’t really have your own personal weather bubble. You can easily test this by travelling from the Woden Valley to the northside on foggy morning. Or getting on a plane in December and flying to Helsinki.

So those of you who are in Canberra today will probably experience much the same weather as each other. Warm to hot and slighty sticky. The weather equivalent of spilling cocoa on your new trousers.

Chemical interventions such as deodorant, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and anti-histamines are strongly indicated. Consider long before you commit to opaque tights, however hairy your legs are. Once the sun is over the yard arm, applications of gin and tonic may be beneficial.



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Tuesday, November 29 • 9:00am - 10:00am
The Maiden, the Mother and the Crone :: 2A6

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Kirstyn McDermott: There is always a next witch: Creative intuition and collaborative female relationships in fairy tales

If asked to think about female characters in fairy tales, a number of popular classics spring to mind: Snow White and the Wicked Queen who attempts to have the girl murdered; Cinderella who endures the bullying of her stepmother and stepsisters and is rewarded for her patience; Gretel who saves her brother by pushing a child-eating witch into an oven. The antagonism between girls/women in fairy tales has been the subject of much discussion, particularly among feminist researchers and theorists, in recent decades. However, significantly less attention has been paid to the critical absence of collaborative female relationships both in traditional fairy tales and their retellings, an absence that is reflected in wider cultural narratives and which we might well regard as an ‘unauthorised theft’. In this presentation, I explore the idea that the cognitive sciences, and schema theories in particular, may offer insights as to why these types of positive female relationships receive such scant representation in contemporary re-visioned fairy tales, and why such tales often – though by no means always – continue to replicate the common narrative dynamic of acrimony among girls/women. It is useful to consider the ways in which story schemas and person schemas might intersect in the unconscious of the creative writer to influence her intuitions – or feelings of ‘rightness’ – that accompany story creation and development. The adoption of new frameworks through which to reflexively interrogate our tacit storytelling knowledge, however, can lead to real cognitive change and subsequent advancements in our creative practice. A case study of the writing of “Burnt Sugar”, a novelette produced as part of my ongoing creative PhD research, is presented as an ‘in practice’ demonstration of the possible effects of schemas upon narrative creation.

Alyssha Katruss: Little Salem (Excerpt - first scene)

There is a stark disparity between how multicultural characters and mainstream characters are portrayed in young adult literature. Portrayals of non-mainstream groups often perpetuate harmful stereotypes, essentialist viewpoints and negative clichés that re-inforce the minority status of many groups. Multicultural literature is an effective means of countering the harmful rhetoric surrounding women and minorities that is often present in young adult literature. Multicultural literature should attempt to normalise non-mainstream groups. As such, narrative focus should be placed on aspects other than a protagonist's race, culture, ethnicity or gender. In this excerpt I have attempted to create a female multicultural protagonist that avoids these trappings. It is informed by the professional literature as well as a textual analysis of two novels with female multicultural protagonists, Born confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier (2002) and Does my head look big in this? By Randa Abdel-Fattah (2005).

Abdel-Fattah, R. (2005). Does My Head Look Big In This? . Sydney: Pan Mcmillan.

Hidier, T. D. (2002). Born Confused. London: Scolastic Ltd.

Zoe Dzunko: ‘Girls in their Summer Clothes’: Transgressive liminality and outsiderhood in Bruce Springsteen’s and Philip Levine’s female protagonists 

Philip Levine and Bruce Springsteen have regularly been credited for their delineations of ‘familiar’ and ‘authentic’ (Rauch 1988: 33) characters, whose individual struggles to negotiate their identities are exacerbated by the pressures arising from workplaces, social and familial expectations, and notions of cultural propriety. Nevertheless, in asserting that Levine and Springsteen render naturalistic characters who conform to their respective social structures, current scholarship has neglected the multitudes of liminal characters in their narratives, particularly their marginalised female protagonists. By undertaking an analysis of their songs and poems from the framework of liminality discourse, this paper demonstrates how Springsteen’s and Levine’s females are routinely situated outside of dominant, male-oriented structures, and enact the transgressive and inversive attributes of liminal identity. Extending the liminality paradigm established by anthropologists Victor Turner (1967; 1969; 1974; 1978) and Arnold van Gennep (1960) to contemporary scholars exploring liminal identities from manifold disciplines, including social anthropologist Mary Douglas (1970) and spatial scholar Doreen Massey (1994), this paper contests the evaluation that either Levine or Springsteen articulate female experience in ways material or verisimilar. Instead, it applies theoretical concepts of liminal identities, outsiders, and relationality to a close comparative reading of Levine’s verse and Springsteen’s lyrics, positing that their female characters denote an infraction of dominant male structures, while occupying a peripheral position that promotes the definition and delimiting of normative masculine identities. 

Carol Mills: The story that stole my life: a cautionary tale of storying and resistance to dominant cultural narratives

According to Reid, story structures now describe a diverse range of human activities and, “we make our word go around chasing our tales”. But, do these story structures dictate our lives or just describe them? How does the process of re-writing life (in memoir or biography) work to “reclaim” or “reshape” lived experience and, does this matter?
      In this paper I draw on the personal experience of establishing a tourist, float plane, business on Magnetic Island to investigate the relationship between dominant cultural narratives and lived experience. The establishment of the business was the subject of public debate and many of these events have been reported in courts of law, television media, newspaper articles, the internet and academic journals.
      The story reported in the press drew on two dominant, western male, cultural narratives; the “hero” and the Aussie “battler”. The framing of our personal struggles within these narratives was successful in gaining public support for our business because the audiences were able to easily identify the moral and cultural issues that underpinned them. Over time, however, they became the way in which the public related to my husband Paul and myself and our roles in the business.
      This paper explores the concept of dominant cultural narratives can operate as authorised theft by the co-opting of stories to exclude others. It argues that women can re-claim agency through re-telling their lives. It highlights the importance of writing as a resistance to dominant cultural narratives and posits that unless we tell our stories the status quo will remain the same. As Ker Conway advises, “we should pay close attention to our stories” (1999, p. 177); for it is only in the telling and re-writing of stories to claim agency, we make space to shape our lives and the lives of others.  


Jen Crawford

University of Canberra
Dr Jen Crawford is an Assistant Professor of Writing within the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research at the University of Canberra. She has also taught in New Zealand and Singapore. Her most recent collections of poetry are Lichen Loves Stone (Tinfish Press, 2015), Koel (Cordite Books, 2016) and 5,6,7,8, co-authored with Owen Bullock, Monica Carroll and Shane Strange (Recent Work Press, 2016). 


Zoe Dzunko

Deakin University
Zoe Dzunko is a doctoral candidate in Creative Writing at Deakin University. She is co-editor of The Lifted Brow and in 2014 she founded Powder Keg Magazine, an online poetry quarterly based out of Melbourne and New York City. She is the author of numerous poetry chapbooks, most recently Selfless (TAR, 2016), and her poems have appeared in publications including The Age, Australian Book Review, Southerly, Guernica, Tin House, Sixth Finch, Prelude... Read More →

Alyssha Katruss

Alyssha Katruss is a graduand from the University of Canberra. She has completed a Bachelor of Writing and been published in the UC anthology, FIRST, and The New Guard literary review.

Kirstyn McDermott

HDR Student, Federation University
Kirstyn McDermott is a Ballarat-based author of two novels, Madigan Mine and Perfections, and a collection of short fiction, Caution: Contains Small Parts. For the past five years she has also been the producer and co-host of a literary critique podcast, The Writer and the Critic. Kirstyn is currently undertaking a creative PhD at Federation University with a research focus on collaborative female relationships in re-visioned fairy tales. 

Carol Mills

Curtin University
I am a PhD candidate in creative writing and cultural studies at Curtin University. I am in the process of writing a memoir that explores the relationship between stories, storying and lived experience. 

Tuesday November 29, 2016 9:00am - 10:00am
2A6 Building 2, UC

Attendees (14)