I have been doing a little more research into the terms 'magic realism' and 'slipstream' today, in an attempt to find a comfortable place from which to launch my PhD proposal - once I reach that point in my research where I feel comfortable writing a proposal, that is.
As I've written before, academia is not enamoured with fantasy. If you say to an academic that you would like to write a novel about elves for your PhD thesis, you're more than likely going to find yourself on the receiving end of a reaction that is all but encouraging. Yes, many terrible, terrible things have been passed of as writing in the fantasy genre and academics may well be gun shy, but for a write like me, it poses a difficulty that has me stumped.
Elves, by their very nature, conjure up fantastical images in the minds of most westerners. Western literature casts elves and other non-human/animal being as fantasy from the get-go. The problem here is that many other cultures do not do this.
If I was writing a narrative about Icelanders interacting with elves, I could write it in such a manner than I would not have to explain the presence of characters who live inside hills and mountains. The Icelandic people in my narrative might also not be overly surprised by a human looking elf stepping out of a boulder. My story would easily be categorised as 'magic realism' or 'slipstream' writing because of the matter-of-fact inclusion of nonsensical events.
My problem lies in the fact that my elves, while widely accepted in Iceland, have migrated to Australia, where they are not known of, or accepted as possible. So, when my Icelandic elves run into Aussies, the Aussies are naturally shocked and disbelieving and the elves will need to explain themselves to form bonds of trust with the humans. That explaining of the phenomenon lands my narrative in the category of fantasy, even though to me, through my cultural experience, it is not fantasy.
How do I overcome this?
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