My van Gogh: A novel

Chandani Lokuge

Research output: Book/ReportCreative BookResearch


Research Background
Please outline the discipline, context, and research question.
- state the specific field in which the research is based
- outline the context or circumstances that form the setting for the work.
- state the research question, the aims and objectives that drive the work
Field: Creative Writing. Keywords: Mental illness, travel, Australia, France.
Context: Youth mental illness is one of the most significant issues of the postmillennial generations leading to youth alienation and isolation. The novel addresses this issue informed by the tradition of travel writing that examines travel as an odyssey of spiritual re-discovery and transformation and which includes an eclectic mix of ‘On the road’ writers: Pico Iyer, Jack Kerouac and Robyn Donaldson (Australian); and transcendentalist philosophers: Thoreau and Emerson.

Research question: The novel’s objective was to seek an alternative (non-prescriptive) cure for youth
mental illness. It aimed to interrogate travel as therapeutic mediation in mental illness.

Research Contribution
Explain how this research is innovative, and how it created new knowledge.
Describe what makes it distinct from existing research
If this an interdisciplinary output, clearly outline the disciplines involved.
Explain how your methodology produced significant outcomes in your field of research.

Innovative new knowledge: Investigating how the individual contends with psycho-social issues that deeply concerns them, literary fiction challenges existing templates and offers innovative new
perspectives on issues that are important to society. The novel furthers existing research that identifies changes in individual behavioural patterns initiated by travel as an effective cure for psychological disturbance, by applying it to one affected individual – an anxiety-ridden young Australian who, seeking
escape from prescribed medication, sets out on a road trip across France.
Distinctiveness: The novel enhances the diversity of the Australian literary profile internationally with its a) engagement with Australian and French characters; b) geographic mapping that entwines the Victorian outback and tourist hotspots from North-East to South of France.

Significant outcomes: The methodology of using the creative medium to test existing research led to 2
significant outcomes: 1) a humanist understanding of mental illness of both individual and those around
them; 2) an enquiry into tourist travel in France as a form of self-rejuvenation.
Research Significance
Provide evidence of research excellence and quality. Detail the impact the research has had on the field.
July 2020: Invited guest-professorship at New Anglophone Literatures Department (NELK), Goethe
University Frankfurt. Activities include a public lecture; and convening a HDR course entitled ‘Errance:
Australian Travel Writing’ with My Van Gogh as a prescribed text. This testifies to the international
research impact of the novel in the field of literary studies.
Review essays and reviews in well-established peer-reviewed international and Australian scholarly
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMelbourne Vic Australia
PublisherAustralian Scholarly Publishing
Number of pages169
ISBN (Print)9781925984170
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2019


  • creative work

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