Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of International, Cultural and Community Studies

Faculty

Faculty of Education & Arts

First Advisor

Dr Richard Rossiter

Abstract

Creative nonfiction narratives have in recent times become increasingly popular. This thesis sets out to examine what is at the heart of the unique reading experience that creative nonfiction narratives offer readers. It begins with an analysis of various definitions of both creative nonfiction and fiction in order to establish the way, or ways in which they are held to differ or be distinguishable from one another. Though various definitions assert that there are distinct differences between fiction and creative nonfiction narratives, several make mention of occasions where the boundaries between the two may become indistinct. On such occasions, as when fiction relies heavily on fact or creative nonfiction is enhanced by literary technique, they make cursory mention of a reader's role in distinguishing a factual narrative from a fictional one. In light of these definitions a comparison of the words on the page between creative nonfiction and fiction begins to highlight difficulties in distinguishing what is a factually based narrative and what is fiction-leaving aside extratextual information. It is argued that an examination of factual material from a creative nonfiction narrative, when compared to a similar excerpt from a work of fiction, reveals no evidence of the truth, or reality to which it corresponds. This issue of evidence is further extended throughout the comparison of creative nonfiction arid fiction narratives. Attention is then turned to the reader's role in creating the sense of difference between the narratives. An analysis of two notorious literary impostures further illustrates the role of readers, and their desire for true stories about real people and events, in the creation of the 'truth effect'. It is concluded that a reader brings to the text assumptions about autobiographical narratives and a desire for the real and is thereby implicated in the creation of the 'truth effect', for which creative nonfiction narratives are so popular.

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