The "Memoirs of many in one" : Post-colonial autobiography in settler cultures

Johnston, Anna (1996). The "Memoirs of many in one" : Post-colonial autobiography in settler cultures M.A. Thesis, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, The University of Queensland.

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Author Johnston, Anna
Thesis Title The "Memoirs of many in one" : Post-colonial autobiography in settler cultures
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies and Art History
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1996
Thesis type M.A. Thesis
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Supervisor -
Total pages 108
Language eng
Subjects 2005 Literary Studies
Formatted abstract
This thesis examines autobiographical writings from post-colonial nations, focussing in particular on settler colonies such as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The thesis argues that settler subjects and narratives are profoundly unstable discursive artefacts, which constantly seek to affirm authenticity and authority. The particular politics of post-colonial spaces, in which settler subjects are placed in between the pre-existing authorities of empire and indigeneity, cast settler subjectivity and narrativity adrift in an interstitial space in which new kinds of identifications and representations need to be established. In this thesis, questions of settler subjectivity and its narration through autobiographical discourses are examined through a number of tropes of representation. These tropes include architectures and archaeologies of the settler subject, explored through figures of wildness and civilization; unspeakable sites and silences; infinite rehearsal, specularity, and performance; and finally the narration of national identity.

Whilst these tropes are evident in the earliest autobiographical writings of settler cultures, it is argued that these modes of representation continue to affect modem post-colonial subjectivity and narrativity. Recently published autobiographies therefore form the basis of this argument. These autobiographies are examined not only in terms of their "post-coloniality", but also through the ways in which these autobiographical representations intersect with discourses of gender, sexuality, race, and class. The opportunity that autobiography offers to postcolonialism, and the ability of post-colonial theory to reinflect the reading of autobiography, is an overwhelming concern of this project.
Keyword Autobiography in literature
Australian literature -- History and criticism
Canadian literature -- History and criticism
New Zealand literature -- History and criticism
Additional Notes The author has given permission for this thesis to be made open access.

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