Letting go of the truth: researching and writing the other side of silence in women’s lives

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Kon Yu, Natalie ORCID: 0000-0003-2023-6910 (2010) Letting go of the truth: researching and writing the other side of silence in women’s lives. Text: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses , 14 (2). ISSN 1327-9556 (online)


In my paper ‘Mixing Memory with the Desire to Forget’ given at the Australian Association of Writing Program’s annual conference last November, I outlined the difficulties in writing about the lives of women, and explained the different narrative strategies I utilised to write about a woman’s history in fiction. Yet, despite writing a novel that strives to highlight the gaps and silences in women’s histories, there remains lingering questions of why the details of ‘ordinary’ women’s lives are so difficult to find. This paper examines the reasons why archival information about women’s lives is difficult to unearth, and details some of the ways in which genres such as the social sciences, memoir and fiction have endeavoured to find and document women’s histories. It examines both the loss of women’s history and the ways in which this loss has been, and is being, addressed by writers. It is my contention that it is not only a lack of salient documentation that prohibits certain stories about women from being narrated in fiction, but also that the conventions of realist fiction - particularly the emphasis on revelation and closure - inhibit the narration of certain lives. By challenging the conventions of realism, we, as writers can not only acknowledge the silences that persist in the lives of women in the past, but also signal new ways to write around them.

Item type Article
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/7772
Official URL http://www.textjournal.com.au/oct10/konyu.htm
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
Historical > FOR Classification > 1999 Other Studies in Creative Arts and Writing
Keywords ResPubID22539, ResPubID23176, women, silence, historical fiction
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