Monash University
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Could've, should've, but didn't: an exploration of uchronic fiction and a critical study of Australia's failure to implement Dr I.N. Steinberg's Kimberley Plan

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posted on 2017-03-03, 06:02 authored by Muller, David
This thesis, as well as the creative narrative that accompanies this research, will define the genre of Uchronic fiction based on features inherent to the alternate history genre as they recur across several key texts. These texts are divided into three different categories based on specific story-related themes, such as what if the Nazis had won World War Two, or what if Israel lost the Six Day War in 1967. In the words of Australian scholar Sean Scalmer, alternate histories are “parasitic” on actual history. As a result, this research will disambiguate an unanswered question from Australian history: why was the Kimberley Plan, a scheme that would have opened the East Kimberley region of Western Australia to large-scale, foreign Jewish settlement, rejected? The academic research will focus on the historical record as it pertains to the Kimberley Plan and will discuss the potential factors that doomed that scheme’s approval. This is important because actual history directly influences the content of the creative narrative which reverses the history of the Kimberley Plan, in particular its failure and rejection. The creative narrative is an alternate history narrative of Australia that will fit into the context of Uchronic fiction. It is important to note that at present there are a limited number of Uchronic novels about Australia. The creative narrative that accompanies this research will not only emblematize many of the recurrent features of Uchronic fiction this thesis seeks to define, but will also be a new and original, Uchronic novel specifically devoted to Australia. The thematic framework includes several recurrent features inherent to the Uchronic genre. Though these features do not appear in every example of Uchronic fiction, they appear frequently enough to warrant itemization and discussion through the course of a genre study. This thematic framework will be applied to the creative narrative that accompanies this research as an example of Uchronic fiction. The recurrent features of Uchronic fiction are (but not limited to): the point of historic divergence; the elliptical or direct revelation of an alternate world history; the detective narrative format; and the rectification of history. This genre study will, for example, explain the difference between the elliptical revelation of an alternate world history in contrast to the direct revelation, and will discuss the image of women and the political agenda on the part of the author in writing Uchronic fiction. Another feature of Uchronic fiction is the reconfigured image of Indigenous peoples that is sometimes, but not always, uplifted when compared to their current status. This feature of Uchronic fiction is important due to the fact that the creative narrative that accompanies this research includes a reconfigured and uplifted image of the Doolboong people, an Aboriginal group located in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia that would have likely been impacted by the Kimberley Plan had it succeeded.


Principal supervisor

John Hawke

Additional supervisor 1

Tom Heenan

Additional supervisor 2

John Bradley

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics

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Faculty of Arts

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