Narrative embedding and the hybrid novel : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Creative Writing in Fiction at Massey University, New Zealand

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The thesis consists of two parts: a critical essay focusing on Queen of Beauty by Paula Morris and a creative thesis in the form of a novella titled Shaking Foundations. This thesis examines how a hybrid narrative structure is a work built out of multiplicity, allowing the blending of different forms through narrative embedding to construct a long form fictional work. The critical portion focuses on Queen of Beauty as a hybrid novel. It argues that the hybrid nature of the novel, which is founded on narrative embedding—is critical to the development of the lead character Virginia’s growing awareness of her own hybrid identity. I argue that Morris brings together different embedded narratives together in a hybrid form that provides a complex history of Virginia’s Māori and Pākehā family. The embedded forms draw upon both oral storytelling tradition—connected to the idea of whakapapa—and the western frame of reference that places emphasis on written sources, such that both are part of Virginia’s heritage and context. This structure also acts as a hybrid space, similar to Homi Bhabha’s “third space”. The structure of the novel provides for the progression of Virginia’s character development and how her hybrid identity is enhanced through the embedded stories that make it up. This is followed by an introduction to the creative thesis and the second part: a creative thesis in the form of a novella titled Shaking Foundations that uses narrative embedding to tell the story of a family and its history in the time of the September 2010 Christchurch earthquake. The novella surrounds Rose, who uncovers the stories of her mother and grandmother through tales told and artefacts found through the earthquakes. These found stories make up the narrative embedding throughout the novel, telling the stories of the three generations.
Houghton, Chelsea, Shaking foundations