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y separately published work icon JASAL periodical issue   peer reviewed assertion
Alternative title: From Colony to Transnation
Issue Details: First known date: 2020... vol. 20 no. 2 2020 of JASAL est. 2002 JASAL
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'This special issue of JASAL is a collection of essays based on papers delivered at the ASAL conference ‘From Colony to Transnation,’ held at the University of Sydney on 5–6 December 2019, to mark the retirement of the Chair of Australian Literature, Professor Robert Dixon. In all, thirty-nine papers were given, including keynotes by David Carter and Jeanette Hoorn, and the conference also incorporated the Herbert Blaiklock Memorial Lecture, delivered by the writer Nicolas Rothwell.' (Brigid Rooney, Peter KirkpatrickFrom Colony to Transnation: Introduction)


* Contents derived from the 2020 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Before Otherness and Beyond: The Dynamics of Material Transnationalism. Australian Indigenous Authors in the US Marketplace, David Carter , single work criticism

'This paper traces the history of the publication and reception of Indigenous Australian literature--fiction, poetry and life-writing--in the USA, drawing on aspects of book history/publishing studies and cultural sociology. Indigenous Australian novels in particular have prompted a rich international critical literature focused in recent years on notions of Indigenous transnationalism or equivalent concepts. While acknowledging the pertinence and generative power of such modes of reading, paying close attention to the dimension of 'material transnationalism'--the ways in which books have or have not travelled into the US marketplace, their circulation or lack of circulation--offers a different perspective, one that qualifies more familiar transnational or world literature paradigms. Australian Aboriginal or Indigenous writing has not had an impact as such--as a field in its own right--in the USA, although recent genre framings through dystopian fantasy/climate fiction have given more prominence to certain titles.' (Publication abstract)

The Transvestite Adventure : Reading the Colonial Grotesque, Elizabeth McMahon , single work criticism

'This reading of transvestic performance in Australian fiction is in dialogue with Robert Dixon’s 1995 monograph Writing the Colonial Adventure: Race, Gender and Nation in Anglo-Australian Popular Fiction, 1875-1914. It is informed by the frameworks Dixon developed in his analysis of the relationship between literature and culture, specifically the ways in which he relates the occult effects of the literary imaginary and the political unconscious to historical context and their implication in the formation of Australia’s particular colonialism. More specifically still, the argument regarding colonial transvestism engages directly with Dixon’s deployment of Peter Stallybrass and Allon White’s formulation of the ‘grotesque’ and its application to the Australian colonial context. The essay revisits Dixon’s reading of the Australian grotesque as a critical optic for reading Australian colonial narratives of female to male cross-dressing to argue that the transvestite figures in colonial narratives enact performances of what Stallybrass and White schematise as the two orders of the grotesque, which are enacted in the identity formation of the collective.' (Publication abstract)

Cook, Conrad and the Poetics of Error, Brendan Casey , single work criticism

'This essay recounts Joseph Conrad’s voyage up the east-coast of Australia in 1888, an event which I term the author’s ‘Endeavour re-enactment’. It describes the author’s relationship to Captain James Cook, and the implications of his visit for Australian history.' (Publication abstract)

Douglas Mawson and the Nation of Science, John Scheckter , single work criticism

'In the early decades of the twentieth century, a nation’s participation in global communities of science denoted high degrees of cultural modernity. For Australia, the accomplishments of Douglas Mawson signified that national assertion. Unlike the arts, where lines of descent and influence remained important, scientists before 1914 frequently saw themselves without borders; this claim offered vast encouragement to newer societies, who found their champion in Ernest Rutherford, born in New Zealand and awarded the Nobel in 1908 for work in Canada. Australia – the new Federation and the progressive states – heartily grasped the opportunity, and Mawson personified that demonstration, particularly in Antarctica: in calling him ‘an Australian Nansen,’ Edgeworth David drew a sharp distinction between Mawson and his British compeers, Scott and Shackleton. Both Mawson and Nansen were field scientists of utmost rigor, who directed their celebrity toward public activism on behalf of a new nation (Australia, 1901; Norway, 1905). That newness, moreover, produced a modernity that Gyan Prakash calls ‘an uncanny double, not a copy, of the European original’ (Another Reason 5); thus, while Mawson represented modern science in Australia, he also worked, consciously and originally, to reconfigure the global playing field of modernity altogether.' (Publication abstract)

“You Lucky People!” Tommy Trinder on Stage and Film as a Public Vector of Post-war Anglo-Australian Projects of Land, Food and People, Veronica Kelly , single work criticism
'Thomas Edward Trinder (1909–1989), a foremost British variety entertainer of his age, is a major twentieth-century cross-over multi-mediated entertainer. His seven-decade career stretches from music hall and concert party origins to embrace variety, radio, films and television. He also toured Canada, the United States and South Africa. A master at the art of brash self-promotion (Farmer), his lantern-jawed visage and voluble improvisatory skill were encountered in Government Houses and hospital wards, pantomime stages and on the Nullabor Road, which he crossed in his ‘TT1’ registered Rolls (‘Worth Reporting’). Trinder made three Australian visits: October 1946 to February 1947; April to August 1949 (this was mostly occupied with filming Ealing Studio’s Bitter Springs); and the last—June 1952 to June 1954—encompassed the also-strenuous royal visit. Trinder is deserving of historical attention in his own right as an important public presence within the rich cross-influences of post-war Australian popular culture, and is a useful vector for exploring the complex intertwined public networks of transnationalism. The Trinder vector thus takes us across post-war immigration from outside the nation and the internal migration of an involuntarily displaced people within it; and encompasses both the two-way circulation of peoples and largely one-way transfers of technology, money and, in particular, food.' (Introduction)
Felix the Catalyst : An Antipodean Who Animated Modernism, Anita Callaway , single work criticism

'Despite acknowledgement that cultural exchange is an active two-way process, there remains metropolitan condescension towards the role played by the less powerful peripheral partner in this transaction. It is still the centre that determines whether to recognize, to accept, and to appropriate the visual imagery of its former colonies and, finally, whether or not to absorb it into the High Art canon. Yet, in peripheral societies that lacked both public art institutions and private patronage, the imperium’s cultural traditions could not be reliably promulgated by High Art alone. Instead, this cultural colonisation was achieved by means of the less esteemed imagery that commonly goes by the misnomer ‘popular’ visual culture.

'If, in its reductive simplification of great art, popular visual culture is considered well suited to a mere colony, is it not ironic that it has been reabsorbed surreptitiously from colony back to metropole? Because of its lowly status, its ubiquity, its anonymity, and the speed of its distribution, popular visual culture has infiltrated the metropolitan mainstream as if it were a clandestine colonial counter-attack—as seen in the example of Felix the Cat, alter-ego of the Sydney-born cartoonist Pat Sullivan, whose Australian larrikinism has been recast as the exemplar of ‘modern trickery’, and whose self-referential, metamorphic, transgressive and updated carnivalesque behaviour has influenced modern culture, world-wide. Sullivan/Felix is just one of many unrecognized expatriate Antipodeans who, as popular artists and performers working ‘undercover’, have successfully challenged—even changed—the hierarchical tenets of traditional western culture.' (Publication abstract)

Dale Collins, Media Man : Australian Interwar Print Culture and the Technologies of Production, Distribution, and Reception Before and After ‘Australian Literature’, Victoria Kuttainen , single work criticism

'This article explores Dale Collins as an intriguing gap in the Australian literary record. A prolific writer and a creature of the transnational and Australian interwar periodical press who was subsequently reviled and forgotten, Dale Collins is worthy of attention because of his output alone. But the vicissitudes of Collins’ fame and repute position him as a particularly thought-provoking and revealing case study in relation to new understandings of the literary past. They also potentially open up ways to consider the technologies of the self through which Australian Literature has become coherent to itself in ways that need to be continually reconceptualised, expanded, or worked through.' (Publication abstract)

Australian Photography and Transnationalism, Anne Maxwell , single work criticism
'Transnationalism is a theoretical concept which today is widely used to describe the relations that have formed, and continue to form, across state boundaries (Howard 3). Used initially by scholars in the early 2000s to refer to the flow of goods and scientific knowledge between nations that ‘has increased significantly in modern times beginning with trade and empires in 1500’ (Howard 4), it has in recent years come to include the category of culture, a development that has in turn sparked a flood of publications aimed at interrogating nationalist histories. Among the first of these publications in Australia was Ann Curthoys and Marilyn Lake’s ground-breaking work Connected Worlds (2005), which radically transformed our conception of Australia’s past by repositioning Australian history ‘on the outer rim of Pacific and Indian Ocean studies, as a nodal point in British imperial studies and connected, or cast in a comparative light, with other settler colonial nations’ (Simmonds, Rees and Clark 1).' (Introduction)
Australia : Transnational or Transnation?, Bill Ashcroft , single work criticism

'The world is now characterised by unprecedented global mobility and the corresponding hysterical protection of national borders. Australianists have begun to investigate Australia’s place in this scene of border crossing and mobility, both in terms of the crossing of Australia’s own borders and the transnational identity of Australian writing. On the face of it the ‘transnational’ character of the Australian population may be supported by its diverse origins, its propensity to travel, and by its government’s necessary engagement both with countries in the Asia-Pacific region and those powerful states whose relationship must be carefully balanced. However this paper proposes a different way of approaching this issue, in the concept of the Transnation, which is composed of the everyday movements of national subjects around the structures of the state. The term ‘transnation’ refers to much more than ‘the international’, or ‘the transnational’, which might rather be conceived as a relation between states, a crossing of borders or a cultural or political interplay between national cultures. The transnation is the circulation of populations around the structures of the state. Consequently, literature, the repository of cultural memory, so often misconceived in national terms, may be seen to be the province of the transnation.' (Publication abstract)

French-Australian Writing : Expanding Multilingual Australian Literature, Natalie Edwards , Christopher Hogarth , single work criticism

'This article takes as its premise Robert Dixon's suggestion that literary scholars “explore and elaborate the many ways in which the national literature has always been connected to the world.” It examines French-Australian literature in light of this assertion. It analyses three examples of such French-Australian writing: one from the nineteenth, one from the twentieth and one from the twenty-first century. Overall, it argues that Australian literature has always been transnational and that a Global Literature in French has a similarly long history.' (Publication abstract)

Ethics of Representation and Self-reflexivity : Nicolas Rothwell’s Narrative Essays, Stephane Christophe Cordier , single work criticism

'While many contemporary Australian writers pitch their narratives on the coastal fringes, where most Australians reside, Nicolas Rothwell returns obsessively to the interior where one senses a sense of unfinished business. The spatial instabilities that resulted from the settler colonial project act as a catalyst for unsettling prior forms of knowledge and belief. Rothwell’s works feature real-and-imagined characters caught between fiction and non-fiction, the lies in the land and the lie of the land. His narratives create a form of generic disorientation that has a political, social and epistemological purpose. Central to Rothwell’s literary project is the reminder that spatial representations influence spatial practices. The author advocates for a break from the novelistic tradition; the country has seen enough literary and legal fictions that had catastrophic consequences for the native population and the environment.

'I argue that Rothwell’s spatial and literary renegotiations culminate in the formation of a new literary genre, the narrative essay. The author decolonises place, space and literary forms to articulate ethical models of non-belonging. Rothwell offers a transformative sublime aesthetics that I analyse as an expression of Bill Ashcroft’s ‘horizonal sublime’ and Christopher Hitt’s ‘ecological sublime’. I compare Rothwell’s ethics of representation, characterised by a self-reflexive prose, narrative instability and narrative regression, to that of Anglo-German author W.G. Sebald, who uses similar techniques in his evocation of a ruined Europe. Rothwell not only presents man’s propensity for a ‘Natural History of Destruction’, he is also intent on identifying the mechanisms at work in building the future.' (Publication abstract)

A Poetics of Sacred and Secular in Australia, Lyn McCredden , single work criticism

'This essay examines the claims to secularity of contemporary Australia, arguing that in the context of Indigenous Australians' declaration, in the document 'Uluru: Statement from the Heart', and of many poetic expressions, we must more fully explore the category of the sacred. Further, the essay argues that in contemporary Australia, sacred and secular domains need to be mutually engaged. The essay offers the idea of the poetic sacred - where secular (political, earthed, civic) and sacred (numinous, transcendent, meaning-making) possibilities can be seen in dialogue. 'Uluru: Statement from the Heart', as well as the poetry of Bruce Dawe, Les Murray, Lionel Fogarty and Judith Beveridge are examined, as exemplars of the poetic sacred.' (Publication abstract)

“Only for Love” : Expatriatism, Amateur Reading and Shirley Hazzard’s Post-war World, Brigitta Olubas , single work criticism

'Alongside Shirley Hazzard’s largely European literary coordinates are also to be found traces of other more obscure figures, and of her persistent return to other sites and cultures. If the biographical narrative of her expatriatism arcs from Sydney to Manhattan via Naples and Capri, then Hiroshima, which she visited briefly in 1947 at age 16, and which reappears in her writing as a chronotope of post-nuclear modernity, is a trace of other possible expatriate trajectories. This essay examines this chronotope through and in light of Hazzard’s long-standing friendship with two US-born scholars of Japanese literature: Ivan Morris, one of the founders of US Amnesty International, and Donald Keene, a Japanese citizen resident in Tokyo until his death in 2019, and will examine the ways these friendships and the careers of these two fellow writers, both also expatriate for much of their lives, bore on Hazzard’s understanding of her own place in the world.' (Publication abstract)

A Registering of Transformations : Alex Miller’s The Passage Of Love, Nicholas Birns , single work criticism

'This essay discusses Alex Miller’s most recent novel, The passage of Love, (2017) in the light of the conspectus on Miller’s work offered by Robert Dixon’s 2014 study of Miller, The Ruin of Time. Despite Miller and Dixon having relatively different intellectual stances, Dixon has brought to bear both theoretical platforms and a deep immersion in Australian literary and cultural history to analyze Miller's work. This essay tries to continue in that tradition, analyzing Miller’s practice of the originally French genre of autofiction and the way this practice is tied in with a set of ethical dilemmas related to the registering of post-Holocaust and post-Mabo trauma as well as his own experience and those of his friends and lovers. In discussing how Miller’s surrogate, Robert Crofts, tries as a migrant from Britain to make a life for himself on an Australian continent with its own tragic history, the essay analyzes how Miller's practice of autofiction speaks to the particular circumstances of Australian literature within world literary space. ' (Publication abstract)

Geraldine Brooks, Historical Fiction and Australian Writers in the US, Anne Pender , single work criticism

'A number of Australian expatriate authors in the United States have made an impact on the American public in a variety of genres: Lily Brett, Geraldine Brooks, Peter Carey, Shirley Hazzard, Thomas Keneally, Jill Ker Conway, Sumner Locke Elliott, Robert Hughes, Kate Jennings, Christina Stead, Janette Turner Hospital and others. In addition, the experiences of these writers in the United States have informed their work in distinctive ways that have been important to Australian literature, and to Australian literary culture. Contemporary Australian authors such as Chloe Hooper and Nam Le have undertaken creative writing training in the US,  and have returned to live in Australia.

'Over the last twenty years however, the globalisation of the book trade has not dissolved the concept of the expatriate writer, or removed the problems for writers linked to origin, readership, visibility, remuneration for, and recognition of their work. In fact, ironically, it seems that there is a renewed imperative for Australian writers to live outside Australia in order to gain access to a global readership and lucrative publishing opportunities. The success of high-profile expatriate writers in the US, such as Brooks and Carey, supports this claim.

'This article considers the historical fiction of Geraldine Brooks who is, alongside Peter Carey, an exceptionally successful author with an immense readership in the US and across the world. Unlike Carey, however, Brooks is largely ignored by Australian critics. The article explores Brooks’ fiction in the context of her career as a war correspondent, her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel March (2005), and the effect of her many years covering war and conflict on her work. It examines the distinctive potency of Brooks’ fiction in the context of historical fiction as an evolving genre for contemporary audiences.' (Publication abstract)

Watching Refugees : A Pacific Theatre of Documentary, Gillian Whitlock , single work criticism

'Inspired by Robert Dixon's volumes on visual culture, colonial modernity and the Pacific, this article argues for a distinctive refugee imaginary in media witnessing and documentary cinema in the South, focussing on Eva Orner's 'Chasing Asylum' and two documentaries by Behrouz Boochani: 'Chauka' (with Arash Kamali Sarvestani) and 'Remain' (with Hoda Afshar).' (Publication abstract)

Tanya Dalziell. Gail Jones: Word, Image, Ethics., Delys Bird , single work review
— Review of Gail Jones : Word, Image, Ethics Tanya Dalziell , 2020 multi chapter work criticism ;
'In this work of exemplary and extensive scholarship, Tanya Dalziell enters into a kind of conversation, one between herself, as a responsive and knowledgeable guide to Gail Jones’s writing and thinking, and the texts themselves. Dalziell’s discussion is based on comprehensive reference to all seven (to date) of the novels, and to several of the stories from Jones’s two collections of short fiction. There are also numerous references to many of the essays that are an important part of Jones’s writing. Dalziell conveys her intimate knowledge of all this work, as she explicates what is a very broad field of writing, recognising Jones’s achievement in those several genres. In addition, Word, Image, Ethics underlines the substantive and coherent nature of Jones’s writing, which returns in each of its modes to one or more of the ideas that inform that work. A recurrent example is an interest in the complex nature of time in its different manifestations.' (Introduction)
Brigid Rooney. Suburban Space, the Novel and Australian Modernity., Naomi Riddle , single work review
— Review of Suburban Space, the Novel and Australian Modernity Brigid Rooney , 2018 multi chapter work criticism ;
'‘One might ask whether both novels and suburbs are obsolete,’ writes Brigid Rooney, at the start of her inquiry into suburban space in the Australian novel (9). Why should we care for the suburbs—those sub-urban spaces ringing the inner city, those in-between feminised spaces neither urban nor rural—when globalism, market deregulation, and the big-four (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) have collapsed the distinction between globe, city, suburb and home. The homogenised and ever-expanding land-creep of late capitalism has nullified ideas of the centre and periphery. The grids, the bungalows, the post-war facades, and the ubiquitous red tile roofs, are earmarked for redevelopment.' (Introduction)
Paul Sharrad : Thomas Keneally’s Career and the Literary Machine., Frances Devlin-Glass , single work review
— Review of Thomas Keneally's Career and the Literary Machine Paul Sharrad , 2019 multi chapter work criticism ;
'This is a most unusual literary study in that, offering more than textual analysis (in which it also engages), it maps the trajectory of Thomas Keneally’s career successes, and his very strange eclipse in the Australian literary firmament. It asks a very uncomfortable central question: how possible is it in Australia to earn a living as a literary novelist, and is it feasible, without a solid capital base, to gain a wide enough readership to survive as a professional writer? The answer is a qualified yes. A lot of subsidiary questions flow from each of these and they lead the author to some less than flattering insights into the way in which the Australian literature machine has operated and probably still does, and suggests its parochial nature.' (Introduction)
Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver : The Colonial Kangaroo Hunt., Megan Mooney Taylor , single work review
— Review of The Colonial Kangaroo Hunt Ken Gelder , Rachael Weaver , 2020 multi chapter work criticism ;

'It felt appropriate that I received the review copy of The Colonial Kangaroo Hunt in the mail the day following the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s first Australian landing; the quote on the book’s back cover is from Cook’s diary, accompanied by a ghostly image of a kangaroo taken from the front cover painting, and reads:

'One of the Men saw an Animal something less than a greyhound; it was of Mouse Colour, very slender made, and swift of Foot.' (Introduction)

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Last amended 12 Nov 2020 09:28:05