Searching the silences of war : a creative and theoretical exploration

Campbell, Margaret (2013) Searching the silences of war : a creative and theoretical exploration. Research Master thesis, Victoria University.


Searching the Silences of War: A Creative and Theoretical Exploration consists of two parts: Part One, the creative component Finding Sophie, is a young adult novel and Part Two, Searching the Silence, is the accompanying exegesis. Both the novel and the exegesis explore the Anzac myth’s impact on war narratives, the omission of women’s experiences in those narratives and silences in official versions of Australia’s history of war presented to young adults: the truth of the war experience; the Defence Force’s strategy to present only a favourable image; the censorship of the media; the hero myth; the impact of war on women and families; and the lack of representation of, and writing by, women about the Vietnam War. -- Part One, Finding Sophie the novel, set in Werribee in 1997, is told from the perspective of seventeen year old Sophie recovering at her grandparents’ farm after a serious illness. Her grandmother was a protestor during the Vietnam War, her greatuncle, who also lives on the farm, fought as a member of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam. Unexpected events lead to a questioning of the family’s highly regarded military history, the shattering discovery of a World War II family secret and the voicing of silences and shame with a particular focus on the Vietnam War. -- Part Two, Searching the Silence the exegesis, explores young adult fiction dealing with war and its repercussions and the use of narrative devices which engage and influence young adult readers. It documents the challenges associated with being a woman writing a young adult novel about war, a novel which subverts the traditional war narrative and aims to address the issues of invisibility and omission, the gaps and slippages in popular war narratives. Finding Sophie is based on extensive research on Australia’s involvement in war and on the way that involvement has been narrated – some aspects mythologised and silenced. In this exegesis those aspects of the research that have shaped the novel are discussed: official history and the ‘hero myth’; emotional repression; between generations, shame and guilt; the lack of agency and repression of women’s stories.

Additional Information

Master of Arts (Research)

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
Historical > FOR Classification > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society
Historical > FOR Classification > 2005 Literary Studies
Historical > FOR Classification > 2202 History and Philosophy of Specific Fields
Keywords novels, Anzac Day, women in war, gender, young adult literature, Australian war history, Vietnam War, World War II, WWII, Margaret Campbell, Australia
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