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Corrective Memory: Writing Women Back into History

Listen to 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?

Photo of Gab Ryan, Sarah Goldman, Odette Kelada and Ali Alizadeh

Gab Ryan, Sarah Goldman, Odette Kelada and Ali Alizadeh discuss approaches to writing women in history

Who?

Portrait of Gab Ryan

Gab Ryan

Gab is a writer and the Wheeler Centre's Head of Operations.

She has a PhD in creative writing, looking at the Gothic as a transgressive mode of representation in historical novels by Australian women, and is writing an historical novel of her own. She has a Master of Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing as well as a number of English Literature qualifications. Her writing has appeared in academic journals Text and cinder (forthcoming) and in Archer magazine online.

Portrait of Ali Alizadeh

Ali Alizadeh

Ali Alizadeh is a writer and academic, based in Melbourne. 

Portrait of Odette Kelada

Odette Kelada

Odette Kelada is a Lecturer in Creative Writing in the School of Culture and Communication. She has a PhD in literature researching the lives of Australian women writers. 

Her writing focuses on marginalised voices, gender and racial literacy, and has appeared in numerous publications including the Australian Cultural History Journal, Outskirts, Postcolonial Studies and the Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature. Her novel, Drawing Sybylla, won the Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2017.

Portrait of Sarah Goldman

Sarah Goldman

Sarah Goldman has spent most of her life as a journalist. Initially working for newspapers in Sydney and London, she later transferred to television with the BBC. Back in Australia, Sarah continued as a producer for both commercial and ABC television news in Sydney and Melbourne. 

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