The Wheeler Centre
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Corrective Memory: Writing Women Back into History
‘History is not the past,' Hilary Mantel has said. 'It's the record of what’s left on the record.’
So, what are the challenges for writers seeking to revive the stories of female historical figures? Women have not always featured prominently in the historical records. And the ways they do feature are often compromised by the prejudices of record writers and keepers of the past.
In this discussion, we bring together three outstanding Australian writers: Ali Alizadeh, Odette Kelada and Sarah Goldman. All three have written about women of the past – from Joan of Arc to Caroline Chisholm – and all three are obsessive researchers. Hosted by Gabrielle Ryan, our panellists discuss narrative approaches to writing and re-writing women’s history, including experimental fiction, academic writing and biography.
What are the responsibilities, and the occupational hazards, of writing about female historical figures?
Is there a difference between facts and the truth? And how hard is it to change collective memory and mythology when writing about people from the past?