AustLit is everything you want to know about the way Australians (and others) have told and thought about the art of story.
a bibliographic database about historical and contemporary Australian stories
fiction, non-fiction, criticism, drama, poetry, film and television, picture books, graphic novels, children's and young adult fiction
an extensive record of secondary sources about Australian stories
including book reviews, newspapers articles, literary criticism, teaching resources, online exhibitions
an essential resource for embedding Aboriginal storytelling into education
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander storytelling history, biographies, cultural heritage, with exclusive teaching resources
connects primary sources to secondary sources
AustLit’s primary value lies in its ability to connect primary sources to secondary sources, that is, to connect stories to the works written about those stories. As such, it can save teachers an enormous amount of time and research.
Take for example, Sally Morgan’s ‘My Place’. A basic keyword search in AustLit for ‘my place sally morgan’ retrieves the result.
From this one record, you can:
provides context for a literary work through:
Example: Advanced search for the cultural heritage ‘Boonwurrung’
Try the following steps:
From the results list, you can see on the left there are over 200 works about the Boonwurrung people, but under People/Organisations, there are authors with that heritage. Select and browse the record for Bruce Pascoe, a multi-awardwinning author who has written for children and young adults.
Bruce Pascoe, a Bunurong man, is a member of the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative of southern Victoria, and an award-winning Australian writer, editor, and anthologist. His works have been published nationally and internationally, and have won several national literary competitions. He has combined writing fiction and non-fiction with a career as a successful publisher and has been the director of the Australian Studies Project for the Commonwealth Schools Commission. He has also worked as a teacher, farmer, fisherman, barman, farm fence contractor, lecturer, Aboriginal language researcher, archaeological site worker, and editor.
Are you aware that AustLit is identified as a resource on the Australian Curriculum website?
The F-10 Curriculum: English recommends Austlit in 'Key Ideas' as a resource for teachers.
If you are looking to add context to literature in a year 8 classroom for example, you might rely on Content Descriptor ACELT1626 –
“Explore the ways that ideas and viewpoints in literary texts drawn from different historical, social and cultural contexts may reflect or challenge the values of individuals and groups.”
Shakespeare’s plays are commonly prescribed as texts for high school students in Australia. And so, for example it might be interesting to examine Shakespeare over time - AustLit can assist you to find Shakespearean stories adapted to Australian audiences. You can search for specific plays, such as Hamlet.
Below is the work record for Hamlet. You can see on the right that Hamlet has influenced several works, it has been adapted, there are at least 50 secondary works about Hamlet as it relates to Australia.
Hamlet is a tragedy, set in Denmark. The ghost of Hamlet's father, the King, calls on him to seek revenge on Hamlet's Uncle, who is accused of murdering the King.(...more)
You can also see that Hamlet is linked to an Exhibition titled Shakespeare for Australian Young Adults.
Content Descriptor ACELT1640:
“Reflect on, extend, endorse or refute others’ interpretations of and responses to literature”
Content Descriptor ACELT1642:
“Identify, explain and discuss how narrative viewpoint, structure, characterisation and devices including analogy and satire shape different interpretations and responses to a text."
Let’s look at a popular text used in both primary and secondary settings: The Rabbits by John Marsden and Shaun Tan.
The Rabbits is a picture book that uses rabbits (an introduced species) to represent the colonisation of Australia. It has received a lot of attention through awards, its adaptation as a drama and the contentious way it portrays agency in the Indigenous characters.
"The rabbits came many grandparents ago.
They build houses, made roads, had children.
They cut down trees.
A whole continent of rabbits..." (back cover)
An allegorical story using rabbits, an introduced species, to represent the arrival of Europeans in Australia and the subsequent widespread environmental destruction.(...more)
Looking at the work record here, you can see there are 27 works about The Rabbits identified in AustLit.
They vary from newspaper articles, book reviews, literary criticism, education journals and awards acceptance speeches.
Finding these bibliographical records through AustLit saves teachers time
... in identifying and perhaps locating resources to inform the aforementioned content descriptors by connecting different interpretations and responses to the text.
Because every aspect of the secondary source is indexed, students are also able to understand the context for the publication of these secondary sources. Providing your students access to these records, particularly senior secondary students, will enable them to develop digital literacy skills and research skills in preparation for tertiary studies.
AustLit is also relevant to other Learning Areas:
- particularly History and Geography
- especially Drama
- through development of digital literacy skills
- AustLit records translations of Australian works in other languages, including languages taught in schools, Aboriginal languages, and works that contain multiple language translations.
In the Asian-Australian Children's Literature and Publishing project for example, you can go directly to a list of children's books translated into Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Korean and Thai.
To some extent AustLit is also relevant to the Sciences, particularly for primary teachers.
The Children’s Literature and Environment Exhibition is a useful example here. The Children’s Literature and Environment project highlights Australian children’s and young adult fiction related to the environment in some way, such as through conservation or environmental destruction. It provides teachers a place to start if you are looking to examine environmental science issues, or sustainability through narratives. For example you will find records and discussion on
... the comprehensive resource containing information on the lives, careers, and works of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and storytellers and the literary cultures and traditions that formed and influenced them.
For example Dot and the Kangaroo . This is a useful way to explore how a text has changed over time by exploring translations, criticism, book covers, or multiple versions that used this titled, either to adapt the story, or to imagine it in another way such as a film, television or drama.
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