Writing Disability in Australia
|Type of disability||Intellectual disabilities.|
|Type of character||Tertiary.|
|Point of view||First person.|
'This paper explores the subversion of the bildungsroman in the young adult novel, Surrender (Penguin, Camberwell, 2005), by the Australian author, Sonya Hartnett. It is suggested that, in reinscribing the traditional bildungsroman within a Gothic discourse, this novel reveals the effect on subjectivity that the horrors of postmodernity pose for the contemporary adolescent. The employment of Gothic tropes to depict the journey of the narrator, Anwell, highlights the trauma of locating an agentic subject position in a context where authoritative social institutions have been revealed as corrupt. In such a world, typical pathways to agency are problematised. Traditional bildungsroman novels suggest agency is attained by finding one’s place in the world, most often in accordance with socially prescribed schemata, although some contemporary examples confer agency through rebellion or resistance instead. Surrender posits a controversial alternative, suggesting that embracing abjection and, ultimately, death, may be considered a legitimate—if transgressive—form of agency for the othered adolescent. Rather than finding a place in the world that Anwell sees as having failed him, he demonstrates a subversive form of agency in choosing to escape from this world entirely.'
'The inevitable and universal nature of death has made it a popular topic of children’s literature. While death has appeared in these stories for centuries, death in young adult novels has become much darker and more complex.' (Introduction)
'In this paper [the author] will consider the intersection between family tragedy, trauma, and affective uses of narration in two Australian novels: Surrender (Hartnett, 2005) and The Danger Game (Ashton, 2009). In both of these novels, narratological techniques are utilised to represent a grief beyond words—the tragic loss of a close family member, specifically, a sibling. Both novels use disruptions in narrative forms—particularly in the inherent expectations readers bring to the forms of first, second and third person narration. These narrative disruptions mirror the disruptions of identity experienced by the characters in these texts. Moreover, as we engage with the traumatic content through a fractured subjectivity presented by these texts, our identities as readers, too, become fractured and disrupted. These disruptions of identity echo that which is experienced by the characters themselves through their loss. By analysing the link between these disruptions and the content of these novels, we get a better understanding of the ways in which fictive worlds can represent psychological issues. The narration of these novels and their engagement with childhood sibling loss enable us to begin to create and understand a broader aesthetic of representational trauma.'