Faculty Lecture: Why Artistic License Matters in Historical Fiction and Film
History Guest Speaker

On September 28, Dr Adam Anders delivered a lecture on a thought-provoking topic: ‘The First Lie Wins: Why Artistic License Matters in Historical Fiction and Film.’

Dr Anders, with his interdisciplinary approach, investigated what made an interesting story, exploring examples from historical fiction and film that best exemplified the intersecting elements of narrative craft and historiography.

He said, ‘As a writer and historian, I’m interested in what makes a good story and where narrative craft and historiography converge. In my lecture, I tried to cover the elements of Western narrative craft and how they might be used effectively in historical fiction and film.”

Pola, a year 11 student, commented after the event:

Often historical cultural texts are highly inaccurate, yet we don’t always know why. However, Dr Anders aimed to explore the answer to that question in his lecture. We explored what makes a compelling story and an enthralling hero, and through the analysis of different works, like Alexander or The Great, observed how in history events often do not follow the Freytag’s Pyramid, Campbell’s seventeen stages or how historical figures do not always experience transformation or act out of selfless motives, therefore creating the need for creators to develop their artistic license. It was also fascinating to learn that while these concepts are crucial in western culture, they do not carry the same significance in eastern works, where successful stories do not even require conflict, like in the example of the famous Kishōtenketsu.

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