Telling tales, shaping stories : the creative practitioner and the artful life story

Van Luyn, Ariella & Klaebe, Helen G. (2010) Telling tales, shaping stories : the creative practitioner and the artful life story. In The 7th Biennial International Auto/Biography Association Conference : Life Writing and Intimate Publics, 28 June - 1 July 2010, University of Sussex. (Unpublished)

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Norman K. Denzin (1989) claims that the central assumption of the biographical method—that a life can be captured and represented in a text—is open to question. This paper explores Denzin’s statement by documenting the role of creative writers in re-presenting oral histories in two case studies from Queensland, Australia. The first, The Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame, was a commercial research project commissioned by the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) in 2009, and involved semi-formal qualitative interviews and digital stories. The second is an on-going practice-led PhD project, The Artful Life: Oral History and Fiction, which investigates the fictionalisation of oral histories.
Both projects enter into a dialogue around the re-presentation of oral and life histories, with attention given to the critical scholarship and creative practice in the process. Creative writers represent a life having particular preoccupations with techniques that more closely align with fiction than non-fiction (Hirsch and Dixon 2008). In this context, oral history resources are viewed not so much as repositories of historical facts, but as ambiguous and fluid narrative sources. The comparison of the two case studies also demonstrates that the aims of a particular project dictate the nature of the re-presentation, revealing that writing about another’s life is a complex act of artful ‘shaping’. Alistair Thomson (2007) notes the growing interdisciplinary nature of oral history scholarship since the 1980s; oral histories are used increasingly in art-based contexts to produce diverse cultural artefacts, such as digital stories and works of fiction, which are very different from traditional histories. What are the methodological implications of such projects? This paper will draw on self-reflexive practice to explore this question.

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ID Code: 38108
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Keywords: re-presenting life stories, creative writing, fiction , digital stories
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > OTHER STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190999) > Studies in the Creative Arts and Writing not elsewhere classified (199999)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 Van Luyn & Klaebe
Deposited On: 22 Oct 2010 02:54
Last Modified: 21 Jan 2011 02:11

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