A wonderland of possible worlds

Garrett, C 2008, A wonderland of possible worlds, Masters by Research, Media and Communication, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title A wonderland of possible worlds
Author(s) Garrett, C
Year 2008
Abstract This project investigates the world-building rules and narrative strategies available to novelists for creating possible worlds within fiction. It includes a creative component: a novel, Dreamriders, and an exegetical component: ‘A Wonderland of Possible Worlds: How Writers Create Possible Worlds, or Where is Alice, Anyway?’.

Using Alice in Wonderland as a primary case study, and drawing on conflicting arguments by Brian McHale and Umberto Eco I investigate how Lewis Carroll created the possible world of Wonderland. After establishing the foundations upon which Wonderland is built I broaden my scope and investigate how other authors create different types of possible worlds and the ways fictional possible worlds enable writers to analyse, explore and reinterpret the ‘actual’ world. From this analysis I distil the key world-building rules and narrative strategies applicable to my own creative practice in my novel Dreamriders.
I chose Alice In Wonderland as my case study because both Alice In Wonderland and Dreamriders explore the concepts of place, marginalisation and belonging, and redefine or re-centre a possible world (peripheral parts of our ‘actual world’) as the dominant elements of the text.

The use of possible worlds reconfigures the status of the margins by foregrounding them, reinterprets ‘reality’, allows writers to raise significant questions about the world (or worlds) we inhabit without entering into the polemic, and allows us to talk about ‘truths’ asserted in texts without reducing the text to a mere representation of the world we live in. This complicates and, to a degree, strengthens fiction’s ontological structure because impossibilities become important world-building devices. Therefore, fictional possible worlds can describe impossible states of affairs with a set of world-building rules that makes the non-actual possible world ‘true’ in and of itself.

In order to answer the theoretical questions posed in my exegesis I also address two ‘problems’ within my own creative practice: (1) how do I write a novel that explores specific ideas, is engaging, seems ‘logical’ to the reader, but is completely unreal and illogical at the same time; (2) how do I ‘realistically’ let the impossible take place in Dreamriders?
While my exegesis and novel are separate, both relate directly to the key research question: What are the world-building rules and narrative strategies available for creating possible worlds?
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Media and Communication
Keyword(s) Alice in Wonderland
possible worlds
world-building rules
narrative strategies
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Created: Thu, 04 Aug 2016, 14:17:56 EST by Denise Paciocco
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