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Teaching with Fantasy: Ambelin Kwaymullina, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf

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  • Creating and Responding

  • Creating

  • Activity Ten: The Ethics of Story Writing


    Ambelin Kwaymullina drew strongly on her own background to write the Tribe series.

    Draw upon an aspect of your own background (whether its culture, family, friends, beliefs, experiences), and create a complex character with several different elements.

  • Activity Eleven: Creating Your Own Fantasy Story


    After re-viewing the interview and discussing the ethics of cultural appropriation, students can be encouraged to:

    • create a complex character with several different elements. This could be a fictionalized version of themselves or someone they know. (If choosing the latter, students should be sensitive to privacy and cultural issues.)
    • develop a ‘big’ problem (or complication) for that character.
    • create a world in which that the character will try to resolve that problem.

    • consider who will narrate the story and what person (first, second, third) it will be written in.

    Once planning is finished, students can write the story. If it is to be a short story (e.g., 500-1000 words), they might need to choose a critical moment from a bigger story and focus on one key event.

    When complete, students should be given the opportunity to share their stories, e.g., online, as part of a class book in the library, or by reading it aloud.

  • Activity Twelve: Filling in a Gap


    Instead of writing their own story, students might like to intervene in Kwaymullina’s story, for example by writing a scene which is implied but does not actually appear in the book, or by extending the story beyond the book. The latter could be in the form of:

    • a prequel, e.g., describing the events of The Reckoning.

    • a sequel, e.g., where are Ashala and the other members of the Tribe ten years after the events of the novel.

    Of course, sequels often bring back characters who appear to be utterly defeated, even dead, at the end of the original story.

  • Responding

  • Activity Thirteen: Responding to The Tribe Series


    Students could be asked to complete one of the following writing tasks to demonstrate their understanding, interpretation and evaluation of The Tribe series by Ambelin Kwaymullina.

    Option 1: Write a review of one book in the series, or the whole trilogy.

    Option 2: Write an analytical essay (also known as an Interpretation) based on one of the following questions:

    (a) Is Ashala a good leader? (easy – suitable for students in early secondary school)

    (b) In The Tribe series, to what extent does Kwaymullina challenge or extend traditional fantasy conventions (including character archetypes)? (harder – suitable for experienced readers)

    Option 3: Choose a fantasy novel by another author. Based on what you have learnt reading The Tribe series and reading articles by and/or listening to interviews with Ambelin Kwaymullina, write a critical evaluation addressing the following question: Is human diversity represented in the novel? If so, what forms of diversity are present (e.g., Indigenous peoples, Peoples of Colour, LGBTIQA+, peoples with a disability, women)? What forms are not present? How successful is the author at portraying the diversity in their novel? If there is no diversity in the novel, do you think this matters? Why/why not?

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