A Chronicle of Place: Three Novellas and a Critical Dissertation on Compositional Process with a Contextual Analysis of Annie Proulx's 'Barkskins' and Michael Cunningham's 'The Hours'
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This thesis is presented in two parts: a work of fiction in the form of three interconnected novellas exploring settler colonialism of Native north-east America (New England), with a critical dissertation as supplement. The research encompasses four main areas: archival; contextual; experiential and the primary field of practice research. Of particular importance to the research was field work conducted in the U.S., which included meetings with Wampanoag educators and artists, and interviews and archival research at the Plimoth Patuxet Museum.
The research has been informed by the work of several writers, both historical and contemporary. Primary and secondary historical sources include William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation and the ‘captivity’ narrative of Mary Rowlandson. Two contemporary works of fiction are explored and serve as case-studies for the creative work: Annie Proulx’s Barkskins, which includes the themes of story, landscape and legacy from a postcolonial perspective; and an appraisal of the structural form of Michael Cunningham’s The Hours as an interconnected trilogy of narratives. The critical element also examines the process of research toward writing a historical narrative, addressing the challenges which arise from writing the past and, particularly, from including an Indigenous element when writing from a non-Indigenous perspective.
As a mode of practice research, the trilogy interrogates a number of ideas, including the transcendent nature of story over time. Using examples of oral tradition and the metanarrative form, it reflects upon the legacy of colonialism upon both the land and the Wampanoag people, and originates a greater exchange between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous.