Writing Histories: Imagination and Narration Issue Details: First known date: 2000... 2000
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'For anyone wanting to write histories that capture the imagination and challenge the intellect. A useful text for teachers and students in history-writing classes.' (Publication summary)


  • Includes bibliographical references.


* Contents derived from the Clayton, Murrumbeena - Oakleigh - Springvale area, Melbourne South East, Melbourne, Victoria,: Monash University ePress , 2009 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
The Poetics and Practicalities of Writing, Tom Griffiths , 2000 single work criticism
'Inga Clendinnen, an outstanding and imaginative historian, recently confessed that when she asked a class of new history graduates which historians they read for pleasure, they laughed! ‘I knew why they laughed’, she explained sadly. It’s because so many scholars compromise communication with pompous posturing; they are too busy staking out intellectual territory and warding others off it; they are too busy digging in their fields isolating ‘stone-hard, stone-cold facts’ to bother looking up or around; they are so furiously in pursuit of ‘objectivity’ that they delete themselves from their scripts and employ a weird, passionless prose. Clendinnen says that she enjoys reading great historians, like E.P. Thompson, for the same reason she enjoys reading great novelists—they offer an entrée into richly imagined worlds. But, she confesses, there is a difference. For her, when reading non-fiction, the bliss is tempered and intensified by a critical alertness and an undertow of moral implication not present in what she calls ‘the limpid realms of fiction’.' (Introduction)
The Broken Years: Australian Soldiers in the Great War 1914–18, Bill Gammage , 2000 single work criticism
'I’ve been asked to talk on my thesis, ‘The Broken Years’, which I wrote at the ANU in 1967–70, and particularly to mention aspects which might help you. You know the basic rules, so I’ll talk about what to say. Every topic and set of sources has its own challenges and opportunities, but I urge you from the beginning to think constantly about what you want to say, and to ensure that what you say rises from and above your sources to comment on the human condition. Your thesis only begins as a sequence of well researched and arranged sources. No less than literature, art and music, it should end by having significance arching above your topic.' (Introduction)
Postmodernity and the Release of the Creative Imagination, Donna Merwick , 2000 single work criticism
'A rather curious and sobering thing happened to me as I was reading in preparation for this paper. I had expected to encounter a certain kind of literature in confronting the subject of postmodernity. It would be full of word games. There would be parodic essays on the supposed distinction between late modernity and postmodernity. There would be voices asserting or, alternatively, denying that ours is an age of all surface and no depth. Some would argue that it’s a world of mobility rather than substance, of the fragment rather than the whole, or of heterogeneities rather than totalities. We live, others would agree, by cheap commodification rather than community-building. I anticipated the teasing word constructions that baffle the uninitiated: the double-coding, the ‘aesthetic play’.1 I was, as I say, prepared for this discourse. Over the years, I have in fact learned a great deal from it. I enjoy it. This time, however, something discordant struck me in some of the literature. Subtly evident was an expression of deep personal disturbance or anger not at all in keeping with the ordinary gamesmanship and paradox-play or, as often, the dense analysis characteristic of postmodern theorising. Let me give some examples.' (Introduction)
Writing from Fragments, John Docker , 2000 single work criticism
'It’s rare to know how a book is written. A book catches our eye in a favourite bookshop; we think we must buy it, forget the price; before idling towards the cash register, we might look at what’s said on the back cover, the information on the inside jacket, the photograph (if any) of the author, perhaps the index to see what family of names is being invoked and discussed. We might quickly glance at the preface and acknowledgements, which tell some of the story of how the book came to be, but not usually all that much, or not enough. How is the book first thought? How does it proceed from a mere gleam in its creator’s eye? How does it go from a vague idea involving obscure desires and passions, fantasies and obsessions, to the first shape of an argument, a thesis with a thesis, a narrative where chapters start to relate to each other and that begins to move as if of itself, as if naturally? What I’d like to do in this essay is try to recall the process of getting going, the first moves I made, while recognising that memory is unreliable and always constructing; what memory creates becomes another story. What I seek to do is remember the messiness, how haphazard it was, the luck involved, the clues picked up in conversations over coffee or hearing a seminar or conference paper.' (Introduction)
Fantasy upon One Note Peter Read, Peter Read , 2000 single work criticism
'In July 1997 as part of a project comparing the destroyed places of several overseas areas with those of Australia, I visited Croatia with a friend who had been born near the town of Split on the Adriatic coast. I was overwhelmed by its history: the Croatians’ precise and bitter memories of the Second World War, the scores of historic monuments defaced or destroyed by succeeding generations of invaders, the former use of public signage to reinforce political ideology, the abrupt proximity of so many invasions and wars, the savagery of recent fighting, the intense passions about the communist past, the ancient rituals and cycles of peasant life in the little village of Cevoglave which seemed to have been let slip only yesterday. The emotional keystone of the trip was a day-long journey, escorted and guided by people from the Croatian Ministry of Culture through some of the regions of the recently pacified and physically devastated war zones.' (Introduction)
Writing : Praxis and Performance, Greg Dening , 2000 single work criticism
'‘Non-fiction’ is a word that bugs me. I don’t write ‘non’ anything. And I don’t like the company I am forced to keep on the ‘non-fiction’ shelves in the bookstores, or on the best-sellers lists (in my dreams!)—cookbooks, personality disorders, do-it-yourselves, ghost-written autobiographies of sporting stars.' (Introduction)
Reflexivity and the Self-line, Ann McGrath , 2000 single work criticism

'A few years ago, I wrote a letter to Greg Dening. I was staying at my childhood home in Brisbane, where my parents still live. It was the school vacation, and my daughters were being minded upstairs by their grandparents. I sat in the office under the house, a 1950s-style elevated Queensland house, not the romantic now sought-after variety with deep wooden verandahs, but one with a concrete patio and swirly wrought iron railing up a tiled staircase. Under the house was not a place for us children, at least on weekdays. This was the office and base of the family plumbing business—one side housed a row of plumbing vans which seeped black liquid onto the concrete ground, while above hung the ingeniously arranged, ever changing complex of copper and plastic pipes. Like branches of a familiar canopy, these softly gleaming creatures went unnoticed by me, though it was hard to ignore the racket of their clanging early-morning departures from beneath my bedroom floorboards. Under the house, the brick wall on the far side was lined with cardboard box after box of plumbing taps, washers, sockets, tools, hot-water systems, drain-digging devices, and the ‘Insinkerator’ cutting tool Dad had invented himself: anonymous brown boxes, except for the scrawled, indecipherable abbreviations and bad spelling. The place I wrote that letter was in the office, with its sour, peppery smells of metals, burning solder, grease, raw bricks and mortar, and its distracting poster of ‘unionist’ monkeys dressed as plumbers. This narrow, cave-like room was now devoted to charity work, especially speeches for the Lions Club.' (Introduction)

Writing Place, Deborah Bird Rose , 2000 single work criticism
'I am speaking from my own efforts at writing place. I hope not to be too abstract, because I want to engage with an experiential process: how my research with Aboriginal people caused me to write about place, and how writing place changed the way I write and think. Aboriginal people in many parts of Australia have taught me to consider that country is sentient. Place is one kind of embodiment of being, and the encounters of living things happen in places. Different cultures, different actions: different traces. Aboriginal cultures link time and place in a way that is neither geometric nor disembodied. There is a kind of contemporaneous time, the time of living things, that unfolds in real and located (not geometric or imagined) places. As well there is the accumulation of history/memory in place. Place become complex in its specific gravity: it is and refers to itself, and it holds and refers to relationships. Its very self, while wondrously dense, is also immensely vulnerable, because the ongoing life of the place happens through the actions and memories of ephemeral living beings.' (Introduction)
The Personal Is Historical : Writing about the Freedom Ride of 1965, Ann Curthoys , 2000 single work criticism
'Decades ago, when I was a History student, we were told never to use the pronoun ‘I’ when writing history. The aim was to write a third-person narrative in such a way that the narrator remained hidden, unknown, unimportant. This stricture is still passed on by some historians, as students are told to focus on the narrative, the story they have to tell, and to keep themselves well out of sight or hearing in the text. Yet the idea and practice of foregrounding the narrator, the story-teller, the historian, is rapidly gaining ground. We are learning to use the once-forbidden personal pronoun as a means of writing history, foregrounding the existence of interpretation in general, and our own interpretation in particular. By saying ‘I’, many argue, we are not aggrandising but rather relativising ourselves, drawing attention to the possibility of other views, interpretations, and ways of representing the past, to the limited and contingent nature of historical knowledge. By saying ‘I’, we leave the reader freer to judge and weigh up the historical narrative we have offered, and ourselves the space to admit to what we don’t know, or cannot figure out.' (Introduction)
Gallery, Museum and Other Exercises for Writing History, Ann Curthoys , Ann McGrath , 2000 single work criticism
'We used these writing exercises in our Visiting Scholars Program, and student response was very favourable. Try them in your writing class or informal writing group, or try them alone.' (Introduction)
How to Workshop Your Writing, Ann McGrath , Ann Curthoys , 2000 single work criticism
'A writing workshop is an intensive small discussion group designed to provide an instant readership and supportive environment for improving your writing. The work in progress is distributed beforehand to all members of the group, or perhaps read out to the group (sometimes both), and then discussed. The group members respond to the piece of writing, saying what works, and making suggestions for improvement. Such workshops are common-place for fiction writers, especially in writing courses run by colleges, universities and other educational organisations. Writing groups are, in fact, everywhere.' (Introduction)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Clayton, Murrumbeena - Oakleigh - Springvale area, Melbourne South East, Melbourne, Victoria,: Monash University ePress , 2009 .
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: xvi, [124] pp.
      Edition info: New and updated edition
      ISBN: 9780980464832 (web), 9780980464825 (pbk.)

Works about this Work

Untitled Emily Sutherland , 2009 single work review
— Appears in: Transnational Literature , November vol. 2 no. 1 2009;

— Review of How to Write History That People Want to Read Ann Curthoys Ann McGrath 2009 single work criticism ; Writing Histories: Imagination and Narration 2000 anthology criticism
Untitled Emily Sutherland , 2009 single work review
— Appears in: Transnational Literature , November vol. 2 no. 1 2009;

— Review of How to Write History That People Want to Read Ann Curthoys Ann McGrath 2009 single work criticism ; Writing Histories: Imagination and Narration 2000 anthology criticism
Last amended 24 Feb 2017 14:36:22
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