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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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Wednesday, November 30 • 9:00am - 10:00am
Reclaiming Her Story :: 2A6

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Janice Simpson: In the layers of a tiger’s eye: mapping adoption stories

What began as a project examining abandonment, and possibly the role of inherited psychological trauma in explaining why many adoptees report higher than usual levels of emotional distress about trust, security and the capacity to fully engage with others, has transformed into an exploration of the meanings and symbols adoptees attach to their conception and birth.
      My reading of the literature revealed several things:
1. adoption is largely silent in Australian histories and social commentaries, even those authored by feminists;
2. adoption literature and research focuses in the main on the experiences of relinquishing mothers; and
3. that most (if not all) adoptee stories are grief and identity stories, focusing on abandonment, trauma, loss and commodification.
      Largely unexplored are the meanings attached to conception and birth in adoptees’ narratives. Making use of the significant bodies of literature about how place defines, influences and shapes peoples’ lives, and the literature that suggests ways of coming to terms with the experiences of being an outsider, I am creating a map tracing the stories of 10 adoptees from conception to their current tracks upon the Australian continent.  The form of this work about place and memory and the ties that bind and identify is experimental, drawing on the practice of fictocriticism and various iterations of the essay.

Helena Kadmos: ‘It’s my story’: Memory and personal experience in the short story cycle.

Postmodern theorists have unsettled the idea of the auto/biography as a fixed, coherent record of an essential ‘truth’, paving the way for alternative understandings of personal memory and family history as socially and historically contingent constructs; the result of what might be called creative processes. This paper explores creative possibilities opened up by the short story cycle—collections of independent yet interrelated stories—to represent potent aspects of personal experience without fidelity to historical accuracy. The cycle achieves this through the cumulative effect of small narrative arcs drawn from the mundane, described variously throughout western literary history as epiphanies, moments of being, flashes and revelations. These snapshots, when pieced together as a whole, create a deeper, richer picture of personal transformation over time. This can be appealing for writers interested in the essence of experience. As author Alice Munro remarked that: ‘I want to write the story that will zero in and give you intense, but not connected, moments of experience’ because ‘I don’t see that people develop and arrive somewhere. I just see people living in flashes. From time to time’ (in Hernáez Lerena 1996 9 and 20). In this paper, I draw on my own creative practice using the short story cycle to reflect on and capture formative moments in my personal and family history.

Hernáez Lerena, María Jesús. 1996. ‘The apostrophe as narrative design in Alice Munro’s short story cycle The beggar maid’. REDEN 12:9–25.


Debra Wain: (Re)Writing sites of food preparation as spaces of women’s authority and autonomy

Women doing the cooking are responsible for the foodways decisions of their family and their community. (Re)writing sites of food preparation, as well as women’s roles in the creation of food, allows for a re-examination of the power that women wielded within this sphere. This paper will focus on the findings of food studies scholars as they relate to my creative practice of short story writing where women and their role in food production are given priority. This paper argues that when women make foodways choices, it gives them authority and autonomy. This is because foodways knowledge is an important asset in cultural maintenance. Most importantly, this article will consider the impact of foodways on individual and community ethnic identity where food is shown to be more significant than other factors such as birthplace, language or religion. It argues that women’s knowledge of foodways is considered an asset because of this significance to the maintenance of culture, which is especially important to groups that have migrated to a new place. The women of the food studies and within my fiction are the custodians of their cultures, and as the author, I have been required to borrow (or steal) from their store of knowledge.

Danielle Nohra: Stolen Landscapes: Trauma, Agency and Environmental Ideology in Lucy Christopher’s Stolen

This research is part of a larger investigation examining female protagonists’ interactions with the landscape in young adult fiction. It will argue that a close study of Lucy Christopher’s novel, Stolen (2009), demonstrates her use of the landscape as a vehicle to both create and negate trauma for the protagonist, Gemma. This can be depicted by reading the novel in relation two notions of environmental writing described by John Stephens (2006). The first ideological perspective Stephens describes in fiction is a human – landscape relationship where characters appear to be positioned embodying a higher status. This assumes control over the environment, creating trauma when characters face harsh landscapes. The second perspective models feelings of belonging within the landscape, prompting the protagonist to care for it. This enables characters to overcome their trauma and subsequently achieve a new sense of agency.

The paper will also draw upon Clare Bradford’s (2008) definition of agency in young adult dystopian fiction. Bradford’s book focuses on social, institutional and cultural arrangements that produce conflict in utopian and dystopian fiction. Her ideas on agency will be applied to this research but rather than examining human-made structures that engineer conflict, this paper will consider non-human conflict from the novel. Drawing also upon Christopher’s (2011) auto-ethnographic paper on Stolen, this research will ultimately analyse the ways that Gemma's relationship with the landscape is the vehicle used by Christopher to subsequently reshape her characters agency when viewed through the lens of Stephens' (2006).



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). 

avatar for Helena Kadmos

Helena Kadmos

Krishna Somers Postdoctoral Fellow, Murdoch University
I'm the Krishna Somers Postdoctoral Fellow in Literary Studies at Murdoch University. My current research investigates, through traditional scholarship and creative practice, how the short story cycle represents contemporary Australian society and women’s lives in particular. I've published several short stories, including pieces in Westerly, Indigo and Eureka Street, and scholarly articles on the short story cycle and Jeanine Lean’s Purple... Read More →

Danielle Nohra

University of Canberra
Danielle Nohra is Creative Writing graduate and a current Honours student at the University of Canberra. At present she is undergoing a research project on the Australian landscape and its effects on character trauma and agency in young adult fiction. She was also the former coordinating editor of the universities creative writing anthology; FIRST (2015). 

Janice Simpson

HDR Student, RMIT
Janice Simpson is a PhD candidate in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT, Melbourne. Her creative practice research is focused on whether the place of conception and birth is significant for adoptees. She is exploring forms of the lyric essay and where that might lead in her creation of stories about place, memory and identity. Her crime novel Murder in Mt Martha was published in 2016. She is a member of the Nonfiction Lab at RMIT... Read More →
avatar for Debra Wain

Debra Wain

Deakin University
Debra Wain holds a BA(hons) in Creative Writing. She is a current PhD candidate and sessional academic in the School of Communication and Creative Arts at Deakin University. Debra is undertaking creative practice research into women, food and culture through her creation of a collection of short stories and a ficto-critical exegesis.

Wednesday November 30, 2016 9:00am - 10:00am
2A6 Building 2, UC

Attendees (9)