The business of a lonely business : creating the life story of Pauline McLeod from her archive

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2010
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- This non-traditional thesis explores the archive of Aboriginal storyteller and writer Pauline McLeod and my attempts to understand her as revealed by her writing. It also explores some of the theoretical bases I used in the creation of her biography entitled A Lonely Business: the biography of Pauline McLeod from this material, and presents two excerpts from it. Pauline was born in 1959 in New South Wales, Australia, and was taken from her mother’s care when she was very young. She was then raised by a German foster family where she was exposed to abuse. After a reunion with her natural family at the age of 26, she had little contact with her foster family. Until her death in 2003, Pauline wrote in many genres including diaries, letters, plays, poems, fictional short stories and stories dealing with personal reminiscence and the Stolen Generation. I have subsequently assembled her life story from her archive, consisting almost entirely of her own words. Many other stories are now emerging written by people with similar experiences to Pauline, however, few are based on material that was written contemporaneously, as hers is. In my thesis I examine some of the themes which emerge from Pauline’s material including childhood and family, removal, reunion, mental health, education, stories and Pauline’s positioning as a woman. Pauline also used the terms ‘Aboriginal’ and ‘culture’ frequently and an examination of her conceptualisation of them is also made. The thesis also examines the methodology used to create Pauline’s biography as a single cohesive narrative derived from many fragments. I also explore who the work is ‘aimed’ at; the implications of writing outside my own culture and gender; what implications arise if one member of a nonmainstream culture is seen as representative of the entire experience of that culture; specific issues regarding writing Australian Aboriginality; the implications of structuring the account in a biographical format; how I made choices to ‘include’ myself within the work in order to bring a sense of ‘transparency’ and reflexivity to it, and what kind of editing was used on Pauline’s words - and why the choice was made to edit them at all. 'Two chapters from A Lonely Business in its most recent draft are included herein to illustrate the arguments I present within the body of the thesis and also to give a sense of Pauline as a writer.
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