Shifting the literary aesthetic: representations of time in Alexis Wright's Carpentaria
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 23:56 by Louise Loomes
Carpentaria was the winner of the 2006 Miles Franklin Award, and won for its author, Alexis Wright, the 2007 Australian Literary Society Gold Medal. Wright is an Australian Indigenous Waanyi woman of Carpentaria and Carpentaria, like her other novels, is concerned with environmental, cultural, and racial politics between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia. But more importantly, Carpentaria is concerned with demonstrating the endurance, vitality, and autonomy of Australia’s First Nations people by creating aesthetic forms that challenge the limiting discourses that restrict Indigeneity to a landless timelessness. This research investigates aesthetic representations of time in Carpentaria and the ways in which Wright uses time to disrupt dominant discourses about Indigeneity. I take a discourse analysis approach with the work of Edward Said, and his theories of Orientalism, to investigate Wright’s displacement of dominant discourses and her creation of a discourse that privileges Indigenous ontologies. This research examines Wright’s challenge to European temporal ideologies and the reinstatement of Indigenous temporal frames of reference within the novel. In particular, the research considers: Wright’s reinstatement of Indigenous links to the past in history and memory-keeping; her creation of discursive links to the present in both time and space; and her vindication of claims to the future by aesthetically representing a space in which Indigenous culture is valued. This research also demonstrates the ways in which Wright has constructed a literary space whose form serves as a metaphor for the development of a syncretic cultural and physical space in Australia.