'Last month, I attended a symposium in Newport about memorialisation and the thirty-five bridge workers who died when the West Gate Bridge collapsed in 1970. The ‘past is never over’, observed visiting Canadian academic Tara Goldstein, because we are always reinterpreting history and, therefore, must always interrogate ‘veracity’. The royal commission into the accident held unions and workers partly accountable; as one of the speakers argued, in the lead-up to the fifty-year anniversary of the disaster, this is a narrative that must be corrected.' ( Jacinda Woodhead Introduction)
Contents indexed selectively.
'A few weeks ago I was on the invite list, along with my colleague Professor Gary Foley, to the opening of a major Indigenous art exhibition at the University of Melbourne. The reasoning for the invitations was threefold: we had both, at one time, been senior curators at the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum (the museum is involved in the exhibition); we had both been recipients of the Chancellor’s Prize for the best PhD in the arts faculty; we are both, obviously, alumni of the university.' (Introduction)
'It begins with the admission that my entire life is a facade. I teach but am not a teacher, write but am not a writer, edit but am not an editor, take photographs but am not a photographer. On occasion I have attempted to make art or play music, yet I am the mere simulacrum of an artist, the bare chalk outline of a musician. Moreover, I hold no claim to scholarly influence, nor do I pretend to boast any kind of public reputation. The ultimate confirmation of this – if you enter my name into Wikipedia, it responds: Did you mean: dead bison?' (Introduction)
'Dystopia ‘cannot imagine a better future, and it doesn’t ask anyone to bother to make one. It nurses grievances and indulges resentments; it doesn’t call for courage; it finds that cowardice suffices. Its only admonition is: Despair more.’ So wrote Jill Lepore in the New Yorker last year. The piece was at least partly an expression of impatience, perhaps even boredom, with the imaginative reach of recent novels and with genre fiction in general (she calls it ‘pulp literature’). Lepore names this trend ‘radical pessimism’, but omits any exploration of what that ‘radical’ might mean.' (Introduction)
'Some of these letters were written by parents pleading for the return of their children. These assertions of humanity, made more than a century ago, echo our current demands, as we continue to contend with contemporary practices of child removal. More than 36 per cent of children in care in Australia are Aboriginal; as the Uluru Statement declares, ‘this cannot be because we have no love for them’.' (Introduction)
'Australia’s worst modern industrial accident occurred on 15 October 1970, when a 2000-ton span of the West Gate Bridge fell during construction. Thirty-five bridge workers died and a further eighteen were injured. The play The Bridge, written by Vicki Reynolds in 1990, tells the stories of these workers using verbatim techniques and a contemporary narrative in which a family touched by the disaster prepares for a barbeque to mark the anniversary of the collapse. An excerpt of the play is republished here, alongside a discussion between community theatre maker Donna Jackson and artist Bindi Cole Chocka (daughter of Vicki Reynolds), who remounted the play recently for the 2018 Arts & Industry Festival.' (Introduction)
'When I was sixteen, I wrote a romance short story by stringing together clichés from Jean Kent and Candace Shelton’s The Romance Writers’ Phrase Book, a kind of thesaurus for expressions such as ‘his strong hands roamed like carefree mustangs over the melting softness of her body.’ Now, as I reread ‘The Dark and Stormy (And Writhing with the Raw Sensuousness that Pressed Them Together like Soldering Metals) Night’, the story sings with supercilious delight at my own cleverness. You can tell I felt no stake in this story. It was not about me, or for me.' (Introduction)