So Many Selves

ABC Books
2006, 1, pp. 1 - 212
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Background The essay is a form of literature that has a strong history in England and the United States but the form is not so strong in Australia. The popular understanding of an essay is a style and form that is overly academic, abstract and often dry. The personal essay, however, has a very different nature to that of the traditional or conventional essay. It is subjective, intimate and reflective - rejecting the notion that objectivity, the primary aim of the conventional essay, is possible. Contribution So Many Selves develops the personal essay form in a contemporary, Australian context. This kind of collection - three long personal essays by a single author had not been published in Australia previously. The theme of the collection that of constantly evolving and multiple identities (many selves) - addresses contemporary philosophical questions about the nature of the self in the 21st century. Significance So Many Selves is an original contribution to creative writing, written in a form that is only just emerging onto the literary horizon in Australia. It provides practitioners with a model to use when studying the personal essay genre. Its importance is recognized by Yale University, where acclaimed author Professor Caryl Phillips uses So Many Selves as an example of excellence in the study of the personal essay.
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