Uchronic, or queer in no time: wilful subjects in historical fiction

Sulway, Nike (2015) Uchronic, or queer in no time: wilful subjects in historical fiction. In: 20th Conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs 2015: Writing the Ghost Train: Rewriting, Remaking, Rediscovering, 28 Nov-01 Dec 2015, Melbourne, Australia.

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Abstract

Works of historical fiction by and about queer women have been characterised as largely ideological texts, concerned with inserting (imagined) queer stories and queer perspectives into the historical and/or literary landscape. These so-called ‘revisionist’ texts have persistently been read largely in terms of their relationship to both historical research and scholarship, and the genre of historical fiction.

In this paper, I explore the ways in which reading (and writing) these texts in the context of so-called Uchronia (a neologism combining the Green prefix ou-, meaning ‘no’ with the chronos/time: ‘in no time’), or alternative histories, provides a way of understanding such texts not in terms of interpreting or re-interpreting the past, but instead in creating narratives that exist ‘in no time’.

Such works can, in this way, be read not as predominantly in conversation with the past, but in conversation with a range of temporalities including but not limited to the past, the present, and the future.

The paper also explores the wilful nature of such writing, drawing on Sara Ahmed’s Wilful Subjects (2014). The way that queer uchronic writing is both an enactment of wilfulness on the part of the writer, and a narrative embodiment of wilfully queer characters.

Finally, the paper explores the ethical consequences of wilfully writing ‘in no time’, through an exploration of key works by Sarah Waters and Jeanette Winterson, as well as through an examination of my own Uchronic works and storytelling practices.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Arts and Communication
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2016 02:07
Last Modified: 19 May 2017 02:18
Uncontrolled Keywords: wilful; historical fiction; creative writing; queer
Fields of Research : 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing > 190402 Creative Writing (incl. Playwriting)
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950104 The Creative Arts (incl. Graphics and Craft)
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/28649

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