Folklore in Contemporary Australian Literature: Baba Yaga as guardian and mentor in antipodean narratives

Melissa Boyes

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

Myth and folklore have for many centuries been a vehicle for people to explain, understand and navigate their societies. Since European settlement in Australia there have been two different and opposing types of folklore: the Indigenous Dreamtime stories and the bush legends of the settlers. However, in recent years several prominent Australian writers are merging traditional old world myth and folklore from Europe and Asia with Australian stories and landscape.
This doctoral project consists of two components, both of which explore the use of myth and folklore in contemporary Australian writing. The first is a novel-length creative piece, Cellophane, which focusses on the protagonist’s place in Australian culture and her journey to find a connection to the land and society in which she was born. The story of Cellophane employs various mythological, folkloric and fairy-tale motifs to explore contemporary issues of environmental protection and cultural syncretism in a postcolonial context.
The second element of this project is an exegesis which places the creative text in a comparative study of contemporary Australian literature repositioning old world myths, folk tales and fairy tales (particularly those featuring the Slavic nature-witch Baba Yaga) in the Australian landscape. The study is informed by international folklorists such as Jack Zipes and Kevin Paul Smith, theorists Roland Barthes and Max Luthi, and Australian academics specialising in folklore such as Danielle Wood and Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario. The three recent creative publications by Australian writers that will be analysed are ‘The Blackaby Road’ by Danielle Wood, ‘By Bone-light’ by Juliette Marillier and ‘Vasilisa the Wise’ by Kate Forsythe and Lorena Carrington. By including Baba Yaga in their stories, Australian writers are highlighting environmental issues, and drawing attention to cultural attitudes towards older women in our society and the problematic effects of colonisation in the national psyche.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Brown, Lachlan, Principal Supervisor
  • Bacchus, Ruth, Co-Supervisor
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2020

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Grant Number

  • Folklore
  • Fairy tales
  • Baba Yaga
  • Australian Literature
  • Australian fiction
  • Myth
  • Postcolonial fiction
  • Magic Realism
  • Cellophane

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