Bohemianism in early 21st century Australia

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Krauth, Nigel L

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Baker, David J

Breen, Sally

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2024-03-15
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Abstract

The Metamorphosis of Clio is an exploration into the transformative possibilities offered by postmodern writing techniques in the realm of life writing. It doesn't just prod or blur the boundaries between truth and fiction, it does away with them altogether as memory, imagination, desire, fact, and text knit together to create a kaleidoscopic, intertextual dream. The use of devices such as metafiction, montage, parody, palimpsest, and pastiche, as well as experiments with characterisation, time and point of view open up a plethora of nonlinear pathways that map inroads into the author's life, while simultaneously leading readers to consider her connections to the wider world, which is accessible within the pages of the memoir via a myriad of spiraling intertexts. Through the lens of Ecriture feminine, the transformative potential of a postmodern approach to life writing is investigated following Helene Cixous' claim that writing offers women a chance to reclaim an understanding of themselves and their bodies by illuminating aspects of their lives which remain hidden and unknown due to the internalised strictures of phallocentric discourse. For Cixous, feminine writing invites women to look directly at the Medusa to see her monstrous mask is an illusion, an imposed construction which is placed on all of us through its association with female power, keeping women fearful of fully seeing or knowing themselves. It's easier to turn and run from the mirror pool. But as The Metamorphosis of Clio shows, a style of writing which embraces the feminine, as Cixous conceives it, can effect change in a woman's life as she moves into the text, and into the world and history using the language of a thousand tongues, one that is subversively poetic, erogenous and heterogeneous, and which purposely rejects the automatisms and historico-cultural conventions that render women formless, blind, deaf and dumb. Bohemianism has been described as a literary phenomenon that originated in Paris in the 1800s with the publication of Henry Murger's humorous semi-autobiographical sketches, or mini narratives, about his life in the Latin Quarter which crystalised the glamorous myth of the 'starving artist'. This iconic figure continues to be portrayed as a romantic loner, a suffering eccentric whose artistic genius goes unnoticed and unrewarded as he struggles to survive at the edges of normal society. Throughintertextuality, The Metamorphosis of Clio seeks to position Bohemia in 21st Century Australia, specifically Brisbane in the early 2000s, by drawing connections between my own life experiences and bohemianism as it appears in literature and other works of art throughout history and in contemporary popular culture. The relationship between the exegesis and the creative artefact could be viewed as 'connective' in the sense that the exegetical discussion is reflective of a postmodern approach as it embraces multivocal discursive perspectives and literary experimentation in its search for theoretical insights which shape the development of the artefact.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

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School of Hum, Lang & Soc Sc

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The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.

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Subject

memoir

postmodernism

bohemian

Australia

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