Blurring representation : the writings of Thomas King and Mudrooroo

Archer-Lean, Clare (2003) Blurring representation : the writings of Thomas King and Mudrooroo. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

This thesis explores the issues of representation and identity through an examination of the writings of Thomas King and Mudrooroo. The particular focus of the dissertation is on the similar yet distinctive ways these authors explore past and present possibilities for representing Indigenous peoples in fiction. This discussion has a largely Canadian-Australian cross-cultural comparison because of the national milieux in which each author writes. The research question, then, addresses the authors' common approaches to Indigenous, colonial and postcolonial themes and the similar textual attitudes to the act of representation of identity in writing. In order to explore these ideas the chapters in the thesis do not each focus on a particular author or even on a specific text. Each chapter examines the writings of both authors comparatively, and reads the novels of both Thomas King and Mudrooroo thematically. The themes unifying each chapter occur in four major movements. Firstly, the Preface and Chapter One are primarily concerned with the methodology of the thesis. This methodology can be summarised as a combination of general postcolonial assumptions about the impact of colonial texts on representations of Indigenous peoples; ideas of reading practice coming from North American and Australian Indigenous writing communities and cultural studies theories on race. A movement in argument then occurs in Chapters Two and Three, which focus upon how the authors interact with colonising narratives from the past. Chapter Four shifts from this focus on past images and explores how the authors commonly re-imagine the present. In Chapters Five and Six the dissertation progresses from charting the authors' common responses to colonising narratives -- past and present -- and engages in the writings in terms of the authors' explications of Indigenous themes and their celebrations of Indigenous presence. These chapters analyse the ways in which King and Mudrooroo similarly re-envisage narrative process, time and space. Overall, the thesis is not interested in authorisations of Thomas King and Mudrooroo as 'Indigenous writers'. Rather, it argues that these authors on either side of the world use very similar techniques to reject previous representations of Indigenous people, and, importantly, attempt to change the meaning of and approach to representation. In so doing this thesis finds that the novels of both authors respond to colonising semiotic fields, as well as reducing the importance of such fields by incorporating them within a larger framework of repeated and multiple evocations of Indigenous identity. The writings of both Thomas King and Mudrooroo share a selfconscious textuality. The same tales and emblems are repeated within each author's entire oeuvre in order to reinforce their thematic trope of re-presentation as a constantly evolving process. Finally, the thesis concludes that a significant common effect of this similar approach to re-presentation is an emphasis on the community over the individual, and a community that can be best described as pan-Indigenous rather than specific.

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ID Code: 15802
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Pearce, Sharyn & Tompkins, Joanne
Keywords: Aboriginal Australian literature, Australian-Canadian crosscultural studies, Mudrooroo, Thomas King, fiction, native canadian literature, post colonial literature.
Department: Creative Industries
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Clare Archer-Lean
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:49
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:38

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