Writing and Reimagination: Literary Models for Contemporary Creative Writing. When everything old is new again!

Writers today, and especially new writers, are often taught to aspire to absolute originality in their work, and to avoid being derivative in any way.

However, although originality has its importance, the vast majority of quality writing is in fact derivative in some way, though usually in ‘inventive’ ways.

It is evident that all texts are somehow connected to a network of existing texts and art forms. A great deal of the literary canon is based on the appropriation and reinterpretation across time and across cultures of specific canonical texts, and also of literary archetypes such as myth or fairy tale. The literary canon thus provides a shared body of storylines, themes, characters, and ideas upon which creative variations can be made.

In this workshop, Prof Stephen Torre will demonstrate how writers should not feel anxious about absolute originality— as even the greatest writers are ‘re-writing’ in various ways. New writers should look on this as a great opportunity to enliven their work by tapping into this field of creative adaptation and appropriation, or “reimagination”.

ABOUT STEPHEN TORRE: Stephen Torre BA PhD Qld is a former Professor of Literary Studies and Creative Writing in the College of Arts, Society and Education at James Cook University, and a Research Fellow in the Cairns Institute. His research interests are in the short story, writing and culture in the tropics, and twentieth-century avant-gardes. He is the founding editor of etropic: electronic journal of studies in the tropics; the convener of the Tropics of the Imagination Conference; the patron and life-long member of Cairns Tropical Writers Inc; and a former judge of the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies annual Colin Roderick Award. Recently he was made Life Governor of the Foundation, for his services to research in Australian literature. Currently, Stephen is a member of the Management Committee of the Queensland Writers Centre, and an arts consultant with Reef and Leaf Pty Ltd.