Short Story Cycles

The Short Story Cycle in the Twenty-First Century

This thesis investigates Australian short story cycles written in the twenty-first century.

This thesis investigates Australian short story cycles written in the twenty-first century. I argue that the short story cycle, as a form, is particularly conducive to engaging with twenty-first century concerns such as anthropogenic climate change, the simultaneously immersive and alienating aspects of life in the digital age, and the changing nature of subjectivity. More specifically, my research is an attempt to identify and explicate the narrative strategies particular to short story cycles, so that contemporary writers may look to this form when attempting to write fiction about twenty-first-century life. Through close formal reading of three case studies, The Flight of Birds by Joshua Lobb (2019), Rubik by Elizabeth Tan (2017), and my own cycle, Thanks for Having Me, this dissertation examines the formal properties of twenty-first-century short story cycles: multiplicity, connectedness, and the return story. This analysis is coupled with the practicebased component of the thesis—a short story cycle created using strategies discovered through analysis of the case studies. The creative work, Thanks for Having Me, consists of thirty-six stories that follow the lives of three generations of women in the same fractured family. The stories depict each woman contending with competing desires for freedom and belonging within the discourses of femininity and the nuclear family.

from: Darragh, Emma, The Short Story Cycle in the Twenty-First Century, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, School of the Arts, English and Media, University of Wollongong, 2022.


Note: This thesis also contains a short story cycle which is embargoed until 2025 but which is currently in the process of being published commercially. You can follow the author on her website for updates.


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