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Australian Literature (ACL2009)
Semester 1 / 2014


y separately published work icon Barracuda Christos Tsiolkas , Sydney : Allen and Unwin , 2013 Z1917126 2013 single work novel (taught in 10 units)

'He asked the water to lift him, to carry him, to avenge him. He made his muscles shape his fury, made every stroke declare his hate. And the water obeyed; the water would give him his revenge. No one could beat him, no one came close.

'His whole life Danny Kelly's only wanted one thing: to win Olympic gold. Everything he's ever done - every thought, every dream, every action - takes him closer to that moment of glory, of vindication, when the world will see him for what he is: the fastest, the strongest and the best. His life has been a preparation for that moment.

'His parents struggle to send him to the most prestigious private school with the finest swimming program; Danny loathes it there and is bullied and shunned as an outsider, but his coach is the best and knows Danny is, too, better than all those rich boys, those pretenders. Danny's win-at-all-cost ferocity gradually wins favour with the coolest boys - he's Barracuda, he's the psycho, he's everything they want to be but don't have the guts to get there. He's going to show them all.

'He would be first, everything would be alright when he came first, all would be put back in place. When he thought of being the best, only then did he feel calm.

'A searing and provocative novel by the acclaimed author of the international bestseller The Slap, Barracuda is an unflinching look at modern Australia, at our hopes and dreams, our friendships, and our families.

'Should we teach our children to win, or should we teach them to live? How do we make and remake our lives? Can we atone for our past? Can we overcome shame? And what does it mean to be a good person?

'Barracuda is about living in Australia right now, about class and sport and politics and migration and education. It contains everything a person is: family and friendship and love and work, the identities we inhabit and discard, the means by which we fill the holes at our centre. It's brutal and tender and blazingly brilliant; everything we have come to expect from this fearless vivisector of our lives and world. ' (Publisher's blurb)

y separately published work icon Unpolished Gem Unpolished Gem : My Mother, My Grandmother, and Me Alice Pung , Melbourne : Black Inc. , 2006 Z1301370 2006 single work autobiography (taught in 6 units)

Unpolished Gem tells the story of growing up with a Chinese-Cambodian family in Australia, Alice dives headfirst into schooling, romance and the getting of wisdom. Meanwhile, her mother becomes an Aussie Battler - an outworker, that is, her father starts up a chain of electrical appliance stores, and her grandmother blesses Father Government every day for giving old people money. (Back cover blurb).

y separately published work icon Coonardoo : The Well in the Shadow Katharine Susannah Prichard , 1928 Z1081769 1928 single work novel (taught in 39 units) Set in North-West of Western Australia, it describes life on cattle stations and the relationship between the white owner of the station and Coonardoo, an Aboriginal woman.
y separately published work icon Turning the Century : Writing of the 1890s Christopher Lee (editor), St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1999 Z397740 1999 anthology short story poetry extract prose (taught in 12 units) The works in this selection, all composed or published between 1885 and 1905, 'represent the way in which literary forms were used to respond to some of the important social, cultural and political preoccupations' of Australia during this period (Note on the Text, ix). The work is divided into the following six sections, each with a prefatory Editor's Note; Histories and Futures; Home and Away; Love and Other Catastrophes; Work and Play; Civilisation and its Discontents: Art and Society. There is also a List of Sources, pp. 374-381, and a bibliography, pp. 382-390.
y separately published work icon Wake in Fright Kenneth Cook , London : Michael Joseph , 1961 Z560904 1961 single work novel (taught in 9 units)

Wake in Fright is the harrowing story of a young schoolteacher, John Grant, who leaves his isolated outback school to go on holidays to Sydney (and civilization). Things start to go horribly wrong, however, when stays overnight in a rough outback mining town called Bundanyabba. After a drink fuelled night, in which he loses all his momey, Grant finds himself both broke and stuck in the town with means of escape. He subsequently descends into a cycle of hangovers, fumbling sexual encounters, and increasing self-loathing as he becomes more and more immersed in the grotesque and surreal nightmare that is 'the Yabba.'


This Literary Studies unit introduces students to the history and significant themes of Australian literature. Students will be required to read a series of important literary texts that indicate the diversity of content and form in Australian literature across the previous 220 years. The representation of Aboriginality will be one of the unit's central themes. Students completing the unit will be able to identify some of the significant preoccupations of Australian literature. They will also be able to discuss the development of Australian writing in response to global issues.