When Novels Perform History published

«The dramatic dichotomies of immersion vs estrangement provide the hermeneutic framework for this innovative take on recent Australian and Canadian fiction’s engagement with history. Theoretically sophisticated and meticulously researched, When Novels Perform History studies the performative/theatrical modes deployed in well-selected examples of postcolonial historical fiction, offering ways to challenge national myths while telling (or, rather, dramatizing) the «untold histories».» — Linda Hutcheon, University Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto

How do you bring history alive? This book explores the use of dramatic modes – such as melodrama, metatheatre, and immersion – to bring immediacy and a sense of living presence to works of literature rooted in history. Focusing on Australian and Canadian literature from the late 1980s to the present, the book features original research on novels by award-winning writers such as David Musgrave, Richard Flanagan, Daphne Marlatt, Peter Carey, Tomson Highway, Thomas Keneally, and Guy Vanderhaeghe. The analysis addresses how these writers use strategies from drama and theatre to engage with colonial and postcolonial histories in their novels and create resonant connections with readers. Some of the novels encourage readers to imagine themselves in historical roles through intimate dramatizations inside characters’ minds and bodies. Others use exaggerated theatrical frames to place readers at a critical distance from representations of history using Brechtian techniques of alienation. This book explores the use of dramatic modes to enliven and reimagine settler-invader history and bring colonial and postcolonial histories closer to the present.

Available for purchase here.

Rebecca Waese is a lecturer and researcher in English in the Department of Creative Arts and English at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and holds a PhD from York University. Her interests include adaptations and Australian and Canadian literature and theatre. She was awarded a Pro-Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Award in July 2016 at La Trobe University and a La Trobe University Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning in December 2016.

 

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