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Diversity in Australian Speculative Fiction : A Bibliographical Exhibition
Researched and compiled by Dr Catriona Mills
(Status : Public)
Coordinated by AustLit UQ Team
  • What Is This Exhibition?

    This exhibition is a curated collection of AustLit records for Australian speculative fiction that falls under the broad rubric of 'diversity'.

    As readers and writers increasingly foreground the importance of displaying the full breadth of modern cultures in published books, speculative fiction provides the template, from culture-rich fantasy worlds to non-binary alien species to body-conscious horror.

    This exhibition collects together those diverse works that Australian authors have already written, and hopes, by making the current state of the literature explicit, to show some paths forward for increasing diversity in the future.

    Sections of this exhibition were originally published as blog posts in 2015, but have been enhanced for these listings, and new sections of material have been added.

    Explore a set of lesson plans that uses the Speculative Fiction exhibition (available to subscribers).

    Or explore our Teaching with Fantasy resources (available to subscribers).

  • Constructing the Exhibition

    The works are divided into various sections, gathered together with like works.

    The tabs on the left-hand side of the page show the four primary divisions for this exhibition.

    Racial or Ethnic Diversity includes works written by Australian authors who identify as coming from backgrounds other than Anglo-Celtic (where Anglo-Celtic has historically been positioned as the 'mainstream' cultural position in Australian print culture). We have consciously limited this section to works by authors of diverse backgrounds. It does not list works by authors of Anglo-Celtic background who have written novels with diverse characters.

    Physical, Neurological, and Sensate Diversity includes works that fall into the following categories:

    • Physical diversity: works that include characters with acquired physical disabilities (such as amputation or paralysis) or movement disorders (such as cerebral palsy), and works that radically question the notion of normative physical beauty.
    • Neurological diversity: works that include characters with either what are sometimes classified as neurodevelopmental disorders (such as autism) or with mental illness.
    • Sensate diversity: works that foreground an absence of senses (with, for example, blind or deaf protagonists).

    Sexual or Gender Diversity includes works that query either sexuality or gender identity, from works with openly gay or lesbian human characters to works with alien species with non-binary gender identities. Works have been selected on the basis of the diversity of the characters, not the gender identity or sexuality of the authors. The list also includes very early works of speculative fiction that query the late nineteenth-century concept of the New Woman, and would lead into the twentieth century's waves of women's liberation.

    Religious Diversity is new to this exhibition, the only one of these lists not to have a previous life on the AustLit blog. Originally suggested by Gillian Polack in a Twitter conversation, this section explores works predicated on religious diversity, including both identifiable human religions and ones invented by the author for the purpose.

    The 'Further Reading' tab includes a list of secondary sources–reviews, essays, websites–that offer further information on diversity in both Australian speculative fiction specifically and speculative fiction in general.

  • Exploring the Exhibition

    The exhibition tabs are divided into individual lists that allow you to focus on a specific form of writing: novels, short stories and poetry, picture books and graphic novels, or multi-work series.

    Please note that these can be long lists, and the page can take a brief moment to load completely.

  • Where To Next?

    We hope and imagine that Australian authors will continue to write works that explore the rich diversity that exists in human bodies, human culture, human emotions.

    As such, this exhibition is capable of expansion. As more works that fall into these categories are published and indexed on AustLit, they can be carried into this exhibition. The exhibition is intended not simply as a frozen moment in time, a 'This is what diversity looked like at the end of 2015', but as a dynamic place in which we can continue to record the increasing diversification of Australian speculative fiction. In particular, this exhibition is limited to written works (including graphic novels), and it would be worth gathering information on radio plays, television, and films that fall within these categories.

    So if you wish to draw our attention to any Australian works that we've overlooked, please don't hesitate.

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