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Contemporary Australian Literature (CCC3106)
Semester 2 / 2014

Texts

y separately published work icon Harmless Julienne Van Loon , North Fremantle : Fremantle Press , 2013 Z1932699 2013 single work novel thriller (taught in 1 units)

'Full of suspense, Harmless, is the tightly woven story of eight year old Amanda, whose father is in prison, and Rattuwat, a Thai man burying his daughter in a strange land.

'Abandoning their broken-down car on the way to the prison's visiting hour, Amanda and Rattuwat venture into the trackless scrub of Australia's outer suburbs. As the day heats up, the sense of menace intensifies and each of them enters the no-man's-land between safety and peril. With the right kind of mindfulness, William Blake tells us, one can behold infinity in a grain of sand.

'In the grainy bush tracks of the outer eastern suburbs of Perth, the whole canvas of contemporary Australian life - the ethnic diversity, its violence, its growing divisions of class and economic status, its convoluted history of linkage with South East Asia - is made vivid and visible in this remarkable novella.' (Publisher's blurb)

y separately published work icon Coal Creek Alex Miller , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2013 6452235 2013 single work novel (taught in 1 units)

'"Me and Ben had been mates since we was boys and if it come to it I knew I would have to be on his side."

Bobby Blue is caught between loyalty to his only friend, Ben Tobin, and his boss, Daniel Collins, the new Constable at Mount Hay. 'Ben was not a big man but he was strong and quick as a snake. He had his own breed of pony that was just like him, stocky and reliable on their feet.' Bobby understands the people and the ways of Mount Hay; Collins studies the country as an archaeologist might, bringing his coastal values to the hinterland. Bobby says, 'I do not think Daniel would have understood Ben in a million years.' Increasingly bewildered and goaded to action by his wife, Constable Collins takes up his shotgun and his Webley pistol to deal with Ben. Bobby's love for Collins' wilful young daughter Irie is exposed, leading to tragic consequences for them all.

Miller's exquisite depictions of the country of the Queensland highlands form the background of this simply told but deeply significant novel of friendship, love, loyalty and the tragic consequences of misunderstanding and mistrust. Coal Creek is a wonderfully satisfying novel with a gratifying resolution. It carries all the wisdom and emotional depth we have come to expect from Miller's richly evocative novels.' (Publisher's blurb)

y separately published work icon Armour John Kinsella , Sydney : Picador , 2011 Z1820009 2011 selected work poetry (taught in 2 units)

'With Armour, the great Australian poet John Kinsella has written his most spiritual work to date - and his most politically engaged. The world in which these poems unfold is strangely poised between the material and the immaterial, and everything which enters it - kestrel and fox, moth and almond - does so illuminated by its own vivid presence: the impression is less a poet honouring his subjects than uncannily inhabiting them. Elsewhere we find a poetry of lyric protest, as Kinsella scrutinizes the equivocal place of the human within this natural landscape, both as tenant and self-appointed steward.

'Armour is a beautifully various work, one of sharp ecological and social critique - but also one of meticulous invocation and quiet astonishment, whose atmosphere will haunt the reader long after they close the book.' (From the publisher's website.)

y separately published work icon The Secret River Kate Grenville , Edinburgh : Canongate , 2006 Z1194031 2006 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 69 units)

'In 1806 William Thornhill, a man of quick temper and deep feelings, is transported from the slums of London to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. With his wife Sal and their children he arrives in a harsh land he cannot understand.

'But the colony can turn a convict into a free man. Eight years later Thornhill sails up the Hawkesbury to claim a hundred acres for himself.

'Aboriginal people already live on that river. And other recent arrivals - Thomas Blackwood, Smasher Sullivan and Mrs Herring - are finding their own ways to respond to them.

'Thornhill, a man neither better nor worse than most, soon has to make the most difficult choice of his life.

'Inspired by research into her own family history, Kate Grenville vividly creates the reality of settler life, its longings, dangers and dilemmas. The Secret River is a brilliantly written book, a groundbreaking story about identity, belonging and ownership.' (From the publisher's website.)

Description

This unit explores contemporary Australian literature with particular focus on fiction and poetry. It examines current experiments with form, genre and content and shows how these are linked both to the continuing tradition of Australian literature and to current social concerns including regionality and identity.

Assessment

Critical reading exercises 30%

Essay - Close textual study 30%

Project- Research essay or creative project 40%

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