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y separately published work icon The Man Who Loved Children Christina Stead , New York (City) : Simon and Schuster , 1940 Z462160 1940 single work novel (taught in 19 units) 'Sam and Henny Pollit have too many children, too little money, and too much loathing for each other. As Sam uses the children's adoration to feed his own voracious ego, Henny watches in bleak despair, knowing the bitter reality that lies just below his mad visions. A chilling novel of family life, the relations between parents and children, husbands and wives.' (Source: Libraries Australia)
y separately published work icon They're a Weird Mob Nino Culotta , Sydney : Ure Smith , 1957 Z54863 1957 single work novel humour (taught in 2 units)

'Who the hell’s Nino Culotta. That’s what you asked yourself when you first picked up this book, wasn’t it? Well I’m Nino Culotta. My father baptised me Giovanni—John—well Giovannino is like Johnny, and Nino is an easier way of saying it. Or a lazier way, if you like.

'Just off the boat from Italy—the north—Nino Culotta arrives in Sydney. He thought he spoke English but he’s never heard anything like the language these Australians are speaking.

'They’re a Weird Mob is an hilarious snapshot of the immigrant experience in Menzies-era Australia, by a writer with a brilliant ear for the Australian way with words.' (Publication summary : Text Classics)

Five Bells i "Time that is moved by little fidget wheels", Kenneth Slessor , 1939 single work poetry (taught in 2 units)
— Appears in: Five Bells : XX Poems 1939; (p. 15-20) One Hundred Poems : 1919-1939 1944; (p. 119-123) An Anthology of Australian Verse 1952; (p. 336-340) A Book of Australian Verse 1956; (p. 97-101) The Penguin Book of Australian Verse 1958; (p. 75-79) Australian Idiom : An Anthology of Contemporary Prose and Poetry 1963; (p. 199-202)

— Appears in: Meridian , vol. 17 no. 2 2000; (p. 93-105)
y separately published work icon The Jerilderie Letter Ned Kelly , 1879 (Manuscript version)x400813 Z855917 1879 single work correspondence (taught in 3 units)

'I have been wronged and my mother and four or five men lagged innocent and is my brothers and sisters and my mother not to be pitied also who has no alternative only to put up with the brutal and cowardly conduct of a parcel of big ugly fat-necked wombat headed big bellied magpie legged narrow hipped splaw-footed sons of Irish Bailiffs or english landlords which is better known as Officers of Justice or Victorian Police…

'Outlaw, murderer, self-proclaimed victim, Ned Kelly is an Australian icon. But who was he? Kelly’s extraordinary achievement is to have provided his own answer to that question. The Jerilderie Letter is his remarkable manifesto and a startling record of his voice.

'Kelly delivered his letter, which Joe Byrne had diligently written out, on Monday 10 February 1879, immediately after his gang had held up the Bank of New South Wales in Jerilderie. He gives an impassioned defence of his actions, condemns those who have wronged him, and sends a chilling warning to those who may yet defy him.

'This illustrated edition, transcribed from the manuscript now housed in the State Library of Victoria, includes a fascinating new introduction by the historian Alex McDermott. The Jerilderie Letter remains one of the most astonishing documents in Australian history.' (Publication summary)

y separately published work icon The Songmaster Di Morrissey , Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 1997 Z527885 1997 single work novel (taught in 1 units)

'In Melbourne, a baby girl is found abandoned in the Victorian Art Gallery. She is wrapped in a shawl decorated with a motif that links her to ancient rock paintings in the Kimberley...In Los Angeles, a movie producer's dying daughter is haunted by nightmares after visiting the Kimberley...And it is to the Kimberley that ex-nun Beth Van Horton brings a disparate group of travellers whose lives will be changed forever.'

'The Kimberley - a land that cradles Australia's ancient treasures - is also home to a people whose powerful secrets could unlock the future for modern mankind.' (Source: Publishers website)

y separately published work icon Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Ray Lawler , 1955 London Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1957 Z522838 1955 single work drama (taught in 56 units)

'The most famous Australian play and one of the best loved, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is a tragicomic story of Roo and Barney, two Queensland sugar-cane cutters who go to Melbourne every year during the 'layoff' to live it up with their barmaid girl friends. The title refers to kewpie dolls, tawdry fairground souvenirs, that they brings as gifts and come, in some readings of the play, to represent adolescent dreams in which the characters seem to be permanently trapped. The play tells the story in traditional well-made, realistic form, with effective curtains and an obligatory scene. Its principal appeal – and that of two later plays with which it forms The Doll Trilogy – is the freshness and emotional warmth, even sentimentality, with which it deals with simple virtues of innocence and youthful energy that lie at the heart of the Australian bush legend.

'Ray Lawler’s play confronts that legend with the harsh new reality of modern urban Australia. The 17th year of the canecutters’ arrangement is different. There has been a fight on the canefields and Roo, the tough, heroic, bushman, has arrived with his ego battered and without money. Barney’s girl friend Nancy has left to get married and is replaced by Pearl, who is suspicious of the whole set-up and hopes to trap Barney into marriage. The play charts the inevitable failure of the dream of the layoff, the end of the men’s supremacy as bush heroes and, most poignantly, the betrayal of the idealistic self-sacrifice made by Roo’s girl friend Olive – the most interesting character – to keep the whole thing going. The city emerges victorious, but the emotional tone of the play vindicates the fallen bushman.'

Source: McCallum, John. 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.' Companion to Theatre in Australia. Ed. Philip Parson and Victoria Chance. Sydney: Currency Press , 1997: 564-656.

The Drover's Wife Henry Lawson , 1892 single work short story (taught in 3 units)
— Appears in: Aus einer neuen Literatur : Australische Erzählungen und Plaudereien 1906; The Drover's Wife : A Celebration of a Great Australian Love Affair 2017; (p. 3-14)

— Appears in: The Bulletin , 23 July vol. 12 no. 649 1892; (p. 21-22) Short Stories in Prose and Verse 1894; (p. 26-39) While the Billy Boils 1896; (p. 127-138) The Bulletin Story Book : A Selection of Stories and Literary Sketches from 'The Bulletin' [1881-1901] 1901; (p. 75-83) The Observer , 17 April vol. 72 no. 5537 1915; (p. 4) Australian Short Stories 1928; (p. 176-185)

— Appears in: The School Paper for Classes V and VI , August no. 143 1911; (p. 106-109) The School Paper for Grades VII and VIII , March no. 299 1925; (p. 18-21) The School Paper : Grades VII and VIII , February no. 309 1926; (p. 2-5) The School Paper : Grades VII and VIII , September no. 349 1929; (p. 122-125) Victorian Readers : Fifth Book 1930; (p. 24-29) Victorian Readers : Fifth Book 1940; (p. 22-27)

— Appears in: Cerita Dari Australia 1974; (p. 4-31)

— Appears in: Australische Erzähler von Marcus Clarke bis Patrick White 1984; (p. 36-44)

— Appears in: Crocevia : Scritture Straniere, Migranti e di Viaggio , Estate vol. 5/6 no. 2005; (p. 69-75)

First appearing in The Bulletin in 1892, Henry Lawson's short story 'The Drovers Wife' is today regarded as a seminal work in the Australian literary tradition. Noted for it's depiction of the bush as harsh, potentially threatening and both isolated and isolating, the story opens with a simple enough premise: an aggressive--and presumably deadly--snake disrupts the working life of a bushwoman and her young children. Brave but cautious, the woman resolves to protect her children since her husband is, characteristically, away from home and of no help. 

As time passes within the story, tension builds, and the snake's symbolic threat takes on layers of meaning as the sleepless heroine recalls previous challenges she faced while her husband was away. A series of flashbacks and recollections propel the story through the single night over which it takes place, and by the time the climax arrives--the confrontation with the snake--readers have learned much about the heroine's strengths and fears, most of the latter involving the loss of children and dark figures who encroach upon her small, vulnerable homestead. To be sure, this "darkness" is highly symbolic, and Lawson's use of imagery invokes Western notions of good and evil as well as gendered and racial stereotypes. 

y separately published work icon The Man from Snowy River i "There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around", A. B. Paterson , Brisbane : Jacaranda Press , 1967 Z84453 1890 single work poetry (taught in 1 units)
y separately published work icon The Slap Christos Tsiolkas , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2008 Z1739894 2008 single work novel (taught in 40 units)

'At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own.

'This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, mostly friends, who are directly or indirectly influenced by the event.

'In this remarkable novel, Christos Tsiolkas turns his unflinching and all-seeing eye onto that which connects us all: the modern family and domestic life in the twenty-first century. The Slap is told from the points of view of eight people who were present at the barbecue. The slap and its consequences force them all to question their own families and the way they live, their expectations, beliefs and desires.

'What unfolds is a powerful, haunting novel about love, sex and marriage, parenting and children, and the fury and intensity - all the passions and conflicting beliefs - that family can arouse. In its clear-eyed and forensic dissection of the ever-growing middle class and its aspirations and fears, The Slap is also a poignant, provocative novel about the nature of loyalty and happiness, compromise and truth.' (Publisher's blurb)

y separately published work icon My Brilliant Career Miles Franklin , Edinburgh London : William Blackwood , 1901 Z161522 1901 single work novel (taught in 56 units)

My Brilliant Career was written by Stella Franklin (1879-1954) when she was just nineteen years old. The novel struggled to find an Australian publisher, but was published in London and Edinburgh in 1901 after receiving an endorsement from Henry Lawson. Although Franklin wrote under the pseudonym 'Miles Franklin', Lawson’s preface makes it clear that Franklin is, as Lawson puts it 'a girl.'

The novel relates the story of Sybylla Melvyn, a strong-willed young woman of the 1890s growing up in the Goulburn area of New South Wales and longing to be a writer.


This unit is designed to increase students' understanding of Australian literature and film, of Australian literary tradition, and of the process of generic classification. The unit includes the study of texts across the variously 'high' and 'popular' spheres of culture, focusing on the twentieth- and twenty-first century. The unit explores Australian drama, fiction, cinema and poetry, the relationship of these forms to the social, aesthetic and cultural values of their period, and the way in which perception of them has changed over time. It looks at the way that literary texts have been valued in Australia and continue to be valued in different ways.


Critical Exercise 35%; Research Essay 50%; Tutorial participation and presentation 15%

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Levels: Undergraduate