Stephanie Green lectures in writing, literary and cultural studies within the School of Humanities at Griffith University. Her recent publications include ‘The Rainbow Bridge’, TEXT 14.1, 2010 and ‘Dexter Morgan’s Monstrous Origins’ (Critical Studies in Television 6.1, 2011). Stephanie has won prizes for her short fiction, poetry and essays and produced a collection of short stories, Too much too soon (Pandanus Books) in 2006. Her travel essay about experiencing the 2011 Egyptian uprising is forthcoming in Griffith Review. She is currently working on a full-length biographical study of the relationship between sex education and birth control campaigner Marie Stopes and her mother Charlotte Stopes for UK publisher Pickering and Chatto.

The deflected subject: ethics, objects and writing

This discussion explores deflection as a narrative tactic for memoir writing, based on using material objects as sites of subjectivity. As a way of grounding this discussion, I employ the example of my own brief memoir ‘Antidote’, a fictionalised account of a collector and his collection, which provides the foundation for the story. In ‘Antidote’ I approach my account obliquely, as a restorative inventory. As I argue, however, it is not only the process of writing and remembering that provides a source of renewal. Rather, the objects themselves offer a mechanism of restoration. While imbued with ambiguity, they are an anchor against the constant slippage between the old world and the new. Roland Barthes has argued that the material details of a story can never denote the real: ‘all that they do … is to signify it’ (1989: 148) In ‘Antidote’ the assembled objects, the place that holds them and the collector who gathered them all exist. Even so, arguably, it is the selection and provenance of these objects, whether known or unknown, and their framing in language, that bring them into the realm of fabula and give narrative life to their form.