Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Arts and Humanities

First Advisor

Dr Donna Mazza

Second Advisor

Dr RIchard Rossiter

Abstract

This thesis comprises a young adult (YA) novel called On the Corner of North and Nowhere and an exegesis entitled ‘Going Back to Go Forward: An Invitation to Get Lost’.

On the Corner of North and Nowhere follows 18‐year‐old Nev Isles, who lives and works at Cleary’s, her grandmother’s art retreat in the Perth Hills. She dwells happily in an old cottage by herself, until her mother decides that she wants to move there too. Rather than live with her again, Nev runs away with her friend, Cole, set for the WA roads she travelled as a child and the mining town of Newman, where her father lives. The trip forces Nev to relive the slow fracturing of her relationship with her mother. Newman offers little reward. Her father has a girlfriend and wants to move from the town. As Nev grows homesick, she gravitates towards Cole. He encourages her to follow her instincts home, even though he cannot stay long himself: after they return to Perth, he has to leave for America to deal with his own family issues.

Nev and Cole’s journey back to the city is set against some of the most beautiful and isolated stretches of WA road. They find that they would rather stay lost in these landscapes, than return to chaos. It is only after a brief stay at a beach camp on the corner of north and nowhere, that they decide it is time to return home to face their troubles and inevitable separation.

While On the Corner of North and Nowhere is not autobiographical, it originates from my childhood, adolescent and adult experiences with WA places. ‘Going Back to Go Forward: An Invitation to Get Lost’ critically examines the composition of my manuscript, with distinct reference to these origins. It is written in two chapters, which are connected by the work and praxis of selected creative arts practitioners, whose experiences with place and literature in their youths also compel them to write as adults.

Chapter one investigates the prevalence of Edenic landscapes in WA literature, focusing on authors, such as Dorothy Hewett and Tim Winton, who aim to reconstruct lost paradise from their youth, in their fiction and nonfiction. Cleary’s, by comparison, is constructed as an unconventional Eden that subverts the trope, thus supporting Nev’s eventual return to paradise and her maturation. Finally, chapter two investigates the influence of Betsy Hearne and Roberta Trites’ narrative compass model, which encourages female scholars to reflect on a resonant story from their youth, towards an understanding of how it impacts their research. Recognising the narrative patterns in my compass was fundamental to the development of On the Corner of North and Nowhere, as it enabled me to craft second and subsequent drafts of the manuscript, with attention to rites of passage in Australian YA literature.

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