Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Crossing the Boundaries

Dr Isabel Moutinho.

Postmodernism has made us all familiar with the notion of a blurring of the boundaries between genres. Such a blurring began to take place between a literary genre (the novel or, less specifically, fictional narrative) and one traditionally viewed as non-literary (history). What we have come to see as a particularly postmodern genre is that hybrid in which fiction and history have become inextricably bound up, giving rise to what Linda Hutcheon first called historiographical fiction.

More and more frequently, however, other boundaries between types of writing previously considered non-literary are also being crossed by writers who can no longer be seen as exclusively novelists, or primarily historians, or travel writers, or biographers, or whatever other category may once have seemed clear-cut. In this paper I propose to analyse novel kinds of genre crossing in a small corpus of very recent works from Europe and Australia: Pedro Rosa Mendes, ‘Baía dos Tigres’ (1999), Javier Marías, ‘Negra espalda del tiempo’ (1999), ), W.G. Sebald, ‘The Emigrants’ (1996), and ‘Austerlitz’ (2001), Drusilla Modjeska, ‘Timepieces’ (2002), Alan Frost, ‘East Coast Country: a North Queensland dreaming’ (1996), and Brian Castro, ‘Shanghai Dancing’ (2003). My purpose is to draw conclusions as to why contemporary authors feel the need to appeal to other genres and how this reflects our constantly changing world.


Dr Isabel Moutinho  (Australia)
Lecturer in Spanish and Portuguese
Spanish Program, School of Historical and European Studies
La Trobe University

Isabel Moutinho teaches Spanish and Portuguese at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Her main research interests are contemporary Portuguese fiction, postcolonial literatures in Portuguese, and comparative European literature. She has published numerous articles in those areas, in journals and collections of essays in Australia, Portugal, the USA, and on the web.

  • Genre Theory
  • Contemporary European Literature
  • Contemporary Australian Literature

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)