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Issue Details: First known date: 2018... 2018 The Bunyip as Uncanny Rupture: Fabulous Animals, Innocuous Quadrupeds and the Australian Anthropocene
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'My love affair with museums began when I was seven. I saw a bunyip’s head in a glass case, a strange, unsettling creature with a one-eyed blind stare, a cycloptic monster. I was small and I stood up on my toes to see the creature through the glass. On show, the bunyip was mounted in a tall, ornate nineteenth-century wooden cabinet. The typed paper label gave scientific verification: ‘A bunyip’s head, New South Wales. 1841.’ I recall the palpable shock of it, and my mixed childhood emotions: bunyips were real. With its long jawbone wrapped in fawn-coloured fur, it was a decapitated Australian swamp-dweller preserved.  Yet, the horrific creature looked so sad, and with its sightless eye, gaping mouth and cartoonish backward drooping ears. It was a creature of pathos—a gormless, goofy redhead, a ranga, a total outsider.' (Introduction)


  • Epigraph:

    ‘But it is also said to be something more than animal, and among its supernatural attributes is the cold, awesome, uncanny feeling which creeps over a company at night when the Bunyip becomes the subject of conversation’

    (Rosa Praed, ‘The Bunyip’, 1891)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Australian Humanities Review Uncanny Objects in the Anthropocene no. 63 November 2018 15401281 2018 periodical issue

    'The Anthropocene has rendered the familiar strange and the strange familiar. As David Farrier suggests, ‘Surely the “sublime” is not the right way to characterise our visceral response to [the Anthropocene]. The “uncanny” might serve us better’ (np). The papers in this interdisciplinary collection consider what the era of the Anthropocene means for how we critically, artistically and affectively approach objects. In line with contemporary critical re-evaluations of the liveliness of objects (Bennett, Vibrant; Brown), this collection brings together things which are dead and/or alive, human and/or nonhuman, sensate and/or insensate, fantastical and/or historical, natural and/or cultural, spectacular and/or mundane. These objects are here re-enlivened in order to expose alternative ways of knowing the past, understanding this anthropocentric present, and imagining the role of humans in shaping environmental futures. In this way, the collection interrogates present and future problems—species mass-extinction, climate change, anthropogenic environmental impact—in relation to how the past is re-imagined, interpreted, commemorated, subverted and displayed. The collection considers human history in relation to the deep histories of nonhuman time and the more-than-human effects that a human-centred approach have often ignored or hidden. We are interested not only in objects as products of the Anthropocene, but in how the Anthropocene uncanny invites us to re-consider histories and objects in new and unexpected ways.' (Hannah StarkKatrina Schlunke  and Penny Edmonds  : Introduction: Uncanny Objects in the Anthropocene)

    pg. 80-98
Last amended 11 Jan 2019 08:45:40
80-98 The Bunyip as Uncanny Rupture: Fabulous Animals, Innocuous Quadrupeds and the Australian Anthropocenesmall AustLit logo Australian Humanities Review