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Showing posts from January, 2012

At the 33% mark of my PhD

I have been asked why I bother to spend my time on one writer who no one knows and has only written three books. Others have been forthrightly incredulous that a University would be remotely interested in supporting ‘my whim’ when the world has so many other pressing problems.
Children’s literature has become the poor cousin in the school curriculum as librarians have disappeared, rapidly replaced by part-time library technicians who cost less. Parents are encouraged to buy through school catalogues delivered by astute publishers to make book buying easy. I question the quality. Nevertheless, I am hopeful that the new Australian Curriculum (AC) may offer a renewed opportunity for literature to be re-established as important. Literature in the AC has its own strand!  Perhaps it's not surprising that on discovering Olga Ernst’s fairytales that I should be drawn to a writer, who conjured a world for her child readers set in familiar (to me) bush and city locales peopled with adventurou…

Twice Told Tales: A different fairytale interpretation

Fairytales are a wellspring which one often passes by without noticing but which, when one has once discovered it, gushes uninterruptedly and offers its, clear, good-tasting water to everyone who is thirsty and wants to drink of it.            Hans Dieckmann,1985
Fairytales are fascinating. Bettelheim (1985:v) writes a foreword in Diekmann's book:Twice Told Tales impressing on the reader that when children's fantasies are based on fairytales, complete with their dangerous consequences (such as being eaten alive, roasted in an oven, abandoned by parents... need I continue?), they serve an important purpose in helping deal with childhood anxieties.
Hans Dieckmann, a psychologist, explores his use of fairytales in patient - therapy, as a source of structure in the process of emotional development. Obviously, to work with an individual, unravel their history and interpret fairytale motifs that reoccur is a time-consuming process taking hundreds of hours of therapy.
However, after…

Whirling away the layers

One of the best parts of a PhD is the side tracks along the journey. I would probably finish faster but not enjoy the stroll,
or learn, as much.
H.C.E. Morant is one such divergence. Whirlaway was shown to me on Saturday, when I met with interested relatives, passed on after originally being given to Helen by her mother Olga Ernst.  An Australian girl (aptly named Helen) and her koala bear companion travel back in time to learn about Paleontology. Teaching + fantasy + timetravel. Enough to delight any child!
Sadly, most of its print run was destroyed during the "blitz"in the London warehouse where it was stored. This prevented it becoming the success story it was expected to be. Hutchinson declined to reprint it and the intended sequel an exploration of the planets for children which had been written already by Morant was never published. With her keen interest in astronomy the next book would have appealed to Ernst. How easily a writer can be discouraged as it seems that there…

Mantras and Outlines

In 3 days I had written what I thought were perfect paragraphs using the mantra* 'knowledge claim – reason – warrant – evidence – implications' from a Thesis Whisperer post.
Unfortunately, despite the length of time for serious writing with no coffee breaks (Vanilla Pod cafe closed) - I'd only managed three! (It could be argued that 3 perfect paragraphs are better than 30 mediocre ones but I'd like to finish this thesis.)
I discovered Scrivener. The Thesis Whisperer confessed falling in love in 5 minutes and I was sceptical. Any-one can fall in love with an iPad in 1.5 seconds but not a software program! I was wrong... 3 days later I have restructured my thesis outline.  Back to writing!