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Keryn Clark

Phone: (+61 8) 6488 7249

Start date

Jul 2009

Submission date

Dec 2012


Curriculum vitae

Keryn Clark CV
[doc, 74.83 kb]
Updated 20 Aug 2012

Keryn Clark

Keryn Clark profile photo


Novel: Bloom Thesis: So Where to Now? The Female Bildungsroman and the Missing Child


Creative Writing PhD Candidates are required to produce two works. A Creative work and an Exegesis. The abstracts are as follows:

2. Bloom – Creative Work

Bloom is a fictional autobiography narrated from the perspective of South African Grace Little who immigrates to Australia in the last years of Apartheid. Grace, runner, writer and self-confessed coward with an acute fear of bridges, returns to Canberra on a four day research trip after an absence of 20 years. She is writing a book about flying ants, a troubled African country and the experience of migration but suffers from writers block. Grace is haunted by many things and she returns to Canberra in the hope of making sense of her fractured life. As she runs loops of Lake Ginninderra, Grace’s life is revealed through flashback and fragmented memories and she meditates on friendships, motherhood, betrayal and homesickness. In June 1976 Grace sleeps through the Soweto riots that would begin the political upheaval in the country and lead to her reluctant immigration. But the riots have also affected the lives of other characters whose stories are told through Grace’s recollections. They are Barbara, a black woman who befriends Grace, Simon, a would-be Jewish activist who wants to sleep with Grace and W., a black freedom fighter with a penchant for Russian dolls who lives next door to Grace in a grubby building at the beach. However it is Hèléne, a Melbourne lesbian who changes the way Grace thinks about her experiences and how they link to the memory of one night in November 1961, the night she wore the butterfly wings. The novel is loosely based on my life under Apartheid, my years in London as an exile and as an Australian immigrant.

So where to now? The female Bildungsroman and the Missing Child

My exegesis is a meditation on Grace’s loops of memory and shame which are linked to ideas of place, loss and belonging. In this section of the exegesis I consider selected novels by three authors J.M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer and Phaswane Mpe and draw on recent theorising on shame to reflect critically on how South Africa, and in particular the suburb of Hillbrow in which Grace grows up, has been represented in the knowledge of Apartheid and (post) Apartheid. It also seeks to examine the relationship between narrative and the self in very specific ways; of Bloom as fictive autobiography and of Grace as a white South African immigrant whose experiences complicate easy assumptions of privilege.

Why my research is important

My research is important on several levels since Bloom is a work that seeks to interlink many themes. In a diverse world representation of others is a critical issue which affect the lives of people politically. I use South Africa as a case study and through the lens of one suburb in Johannesburg, creatively and theoretically examine ways people are marginalized by representation and how this might affect them socially, physically, psychologically and politically in terms of access to resources. I look at links between political trauma and mental health and I look at links between perinatal death and post-natal depression as I believe these are two areas that are under-researched.


  • Australian Post Graduate Award 2009 - 2012 ($23,728 pa)
  • University of Australia Top-Up Award ($3,500 pa)
  • Postgraduate Teaching Internship ($6,000)
  • Jean Rogerson Honours Studentship awarded to the students achieving the best qualifying performance for entry to the Honours programme of any batchelor's degree in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. ($1,000)
  • PhD Completion Scholarship plus UWA Safety Net Top-Up Scholarship ($27,228pa)