Dcotor of Philosophy
School of Arts, English and Media
Campbell, Narelle, Now and then: traces of the present in medievalist fantasy fiction, Dcotor of Philosophy thesis, School of Arts, English and Media, University of Wollongong, 2013. https://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/3910
This thesis examines two medievalist fantasy series by authors from former British settler cultures – The Old Kingdom Chronicles (1995- 2003) by Australian writer Garth Nix, and The Fionavar Tapestry (1985-1986) by Canadian author Guy Gavriel Kay. I argue that although these texts are firmly situated in the realm of the imaginary, they are far from being culturally irrelevant. They are inescapably contemporary cultural products, strongly informed by the moments and places of their production, and revelatory of present aspirations and anxieties. I discuss the British and, more broadly, Western inflections at the centre of medievalist genre fantasy and examine how these impact on representations of ethnicity, gender and class within my chosen texts. This entails a consideration of how colonial legacies continue to inform the ways in which postcolonial settler cultures construct their own identities and view other cultures. I argue that the medieval temporal and spatial settings utilised by Nix and Kay create a privileged space, imbued with a sense of greater power, authority and authenticity than the present. Moreover, I argue that the power available to imaginings of the Middle Ages is appropriated by the authors as these fantasy texts engage discursively with debates of contemporary ideological significance.