Uchronic, or queer in no time: wilful subjects in historical fiction

Paper


Sulway, Nike. 2015. "Uchronic, or queer in no time: wilful subjects in historical fiction." 20th Conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs 2015: Writing the Ghost Train: Rewriting, Remaking, Rediscovering. Melbourne, Australia 28 Nov - 01 Dec 2015 Australia.
Paper/Presentation Title

Uchronic, or queer in no time: wilful subjects in historical fiction

Presentation TypePaper
Authors
AuthorSulway, Nike
Journal or Proceedings TitleProceedings of the 20th Conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs 2015
ERA Conference ID77180
Number of Pages1
Year2015
Place of PublicationAustralia
ISBN9780980757392
Web Address (URL) of Paperhttp://www.aawp.org.au/publications/writing-the-ghost-train-rewriting-remaking-rediscovering/
Conference/Event20th Conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs 2015: Writing the Ghost Train: Rewriting, Remaking, Rediscovering
Conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs
Event Details
20th Conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs 2015: Writing the Ghost Train: Rewriting, Remaking, Rediscovering
Parent
Conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs
Event Date
28 Nov 2015 to end of 01 Dec 2015
Event Location
Melbourne, Australia
Event Details
Conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs
Abstract

Works of historical fiction by and about queer women have been characterised as largely ideological texts, concerned with inserting (imagined) queer stories and queer perspectives into the historical and/or literary landscape. These so-called ‘revisionist’ texts have persistently been read largely in terms of their relationship to both historical research and scholarship, and the genre of historical fiction.

In this paper, I explore the ways in which reading (and writing) these texts in the context of so-called Uchronia (a neologism combining the Green prefix ou-, meaning ‘no’ with the chronos/time: ‘in no time’), or alternative histories, provides a way of understanding such texts not in terms of interpreting or re-interpreting the past, but instead in creating narratives that exist ‘in no time’.

Such works can, in this way, be read not as predominantly in conversation with the past, but in conversation with a range of temporalities including but not limited to the past, the present, and the future.

The paper also explores the wilful nature of such writing, drawing on Sara Ahmed’s Wilful Subjects (2014). The way that queer uchronic writing is both an enactment of wilfulness on the part of the writer, and a narrative embodiment of wilfully queer characters.

Finally, the paper explores the ethical consequences of wilfully writing ‘in no time’, through an exploration of key works by Sarah Waters and Jeanette Winterson, as well as through an examination of my own Uchronic works and storytelling practices.

Keywordswilful; historical fiction; creative writing; queer
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020360201. Creative writing (incl. scriptwriting)
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Arts and Communication
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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