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Family Historiography in The White Earth single work   criticism  
Issue Details: First known date: 2017... 2017 Family Historiography in The White Earth
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'In recent years, family history research has become a popular activity for many Australians. This imperative to connect with our ancestors extends into the field of literary production. In this essay, we examine one prominent novel that reflects this movement, Andrew McGahan’s The White Earth (2004). Looking through a lens of family history and historiography, the novel asks questions about postcolonial belonging, inheritance, and the violent foundations of the nation. McGahan’s young protagonist, William, stands to inherit a vast but crumbling property on the Darling Downs in Queensland. As William discovers more about the land, he comes into contact with both his own white pastoralist ancestors, and the powerful Indigenous spirits who inhabit secret and sacred spaces in the landscape. We argue that William’s encounter with secret family histories produces the hysteria at the climax of the novel, when the repressed violence of the past returns to haunt the present. Confronted with hidden knowledge, William—and, by proxy, the reader—is called to reconsider inherited histories in light of contemporary historiographies. The move towards knowledge of the family’s origins is a realisation of the complexity of the white Australian relationship to the land and its first inhabitants.' (Publication abstract)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Journal of Australian Studies vol. 41 no. 2 May 2017 11334241 2017 periodical issue criticism

    'Many of the articles in this issue of Journal of Australian Studies draw upon oral history and other qualitative methodologies. This process of listening carefully to the stories people tell about their lives is one of the most important ways an interdisciplinary journal such as this contributes to sharing ideas and histories that help us make sense of our worlds. Often these approaches accompany a reimagining of traditional historical practice.' (Introduction)

    pg. 156-170
Last amended 7 Jun 2017 08:08:37
156-170 Family Historiography in The White Earthsmall AustLit logo Journal of Australian Studies