Issue Details: First known date: 2014 2014
AustLit is a subscription service. The content and services available here are limited because you have not been recognised as a subscriber. Find out how to gain full access to AustLit

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'In 1985, when Kate Grenville’s novel about a fat, unlovely bag lady appeared on the Australian literary landscape, Lilian’s Story was celebrated as a feminist and postcolonial text. By locating Lilian as ex-centric to the nation, to inhabit the abjected zones of the colony—the bush, the asylum, the streets of post-Federation Sydney—Grenville is commonly read as a feminist writer intervening into the gender politics that shaped Australia. Feminists celebrate the ways in which she carves out discursive spaces for women who have existed largely in the interstices between public memory and official history. Postcolonial critical interpretations of Lilian being ‘colonised’ by her father, provoked by the rape narrative, have tended to reproduce the postcolonial trope of Australia’s shift from a colonial relationship to a national structure. Such readings largely neglect the colonial violence of Australian patriarchy, and the skewed gender norms that result when a host culture is transplanted to an imperial outpost. Taking up the colonial metaphor structuring the relationship between Lilian and her father, I read Lilian’s ‘madness’ as a response to discourses of ‘race’ and gender that circulate in the colonial Imaginary to position women as the site for racial anxiety about colonial ‘dirt’, contamination and disorder. While Lilian approaches the rebellious female grotesque celebrated in postcolonial feminist theorising, her obese body also signifies the devouring nature of colonialism. This paper engages with the white politics of women’s ‘belonging’ inscribed in Lilian’s Story to disinter the schizoid nature of white women’s relationship to colonial patriarchy.' (Publication abstract)


  • Epigraph:

    Lilian, he said, as if reminding me who I was. Lilian, you are an example of the degeneracy of the white races. I must have stood blinking in my surprise and Father hissed, so that the creeping cousin stared, You are sterile and degenerate, and as corrupt as a snake. (‘A Friend Gone,’ Lilian’s Story 178–79)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y JASAL Country vol. 14 no. 3 2014 7916868 2014 periodical issue

    The BlackWords Symposium, held in October 2012, celebrated the fifth anniversary of the establishment of BlackWords, the AustLit-supported project recording information about, and research into, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and storytellers. The symposium showcased the exciting state of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creative writing and storytelling across all forms, contemporary scholarship on Indigenous writing, alongside programs such as the State Library of Queensland’s black&write! project, which supports writers’ fellowships, editing mentorships, and a trainee editor program for professional development for Indigenous editors. But really, the event was a celebration of the sort of thinking, the sort of resistance, and the re-writing of history that is evident in the epigraph to this introduction. ' (Source: Kilner, Kerry and Minter, Peter, JASAL Vol 14. No. 3, 2014: 1)

Last amended 10 Oct 2014 05:15:07