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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Seminar - The structures of story: history, storytelling, utility and form

9th October 2017, 13:00 to 14:00, IAS Seminar Room, Palace Green, Dr Tom Murray (Macquarie University, Australia)

Abstract

One of the most famous Australian Indigenous biographies is that of Bennelong (c1764 – 1813). A man of the Wangal clan of the Eora Nations of Sydney who visited England with Governor Philip from 1792-5 and was said to have met King George III. After Bennelong’s return from England his story is marked by personal dissolution and alcoholism; a narrative used to illustrate the tragic incompatibility of colonial and Indigenous society. It is a story that has been played out numerous times with respect to other famous Indigenous men.

The major problem being: it is not true. It wasn’t for Bennelong, and it wasn’t for countless other Indigenous men that it has been applied to. This seminar reflects on the structures of story, in this case tragedy, and ponders how genre conventions and the political utility of certain forms of story continue to shape popular histories.

Places are limited at these lunchtime seminars and so any academic colleagues interested in attending, should contact the Institute in advance to reserve a place.

Contact enquiries.ias@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.