AustLit logo
Issue Details: First known date: 2015... 2015 Patrick White and Aesthetic Modernism in Mid-century Australia
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'The question of aesthetic modernism and its moorings in a number of social, economic, political and sexual configurations and imaginings around space, time and technological progress is at the centre of a resurgent interest in modernism and modernity over the last two decades. Interest in aesthetic modernism as a mode of critique aimed at conservative tides in culture, politics and the economy gains new relevance in the context of contemporary Australia. This article considers the Australian context in which one of the foremost proponents of aesthetic modernism in drama is Patrick White. We begin by examining the continuing relevance of White's drama by discussing the key modernist tropes that operate transversally across two of his plays, 'The Ham Funeral' and 'Signal Driver'. White's critique of postwar Australian culture forms the central tenet of his modernist playwriting aesthetics. It is further articulated in a 1958 provocation, in which he refers to Australian modernity as being embedded in anti-intellectualism, 'the march of material ugliness' and 'the exaltation of the average'. In this article, we argue that White's modernist drama chronicles twentieth-century social, economic and political formations of nation, and its effects on subjectivity and interpersonal relations. His plays pose a number of challenges to a twentieth-century configuration of nation, to the ideals of modernity that helped to shape it, and these continue into the twenty-first century. We propose that to re-examine modernist aesthetics in Australian drama reconnects us with smart and pleasurable ways of staging and rebutting rampant modernity as a mode of social, sexual and artistic governance that remains uncannily pertinent today.' (Publication abstract)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Last amended 16 Oct 2015 10:56:50
63-80 Patrick White and Aesthetic Modernism in Mid-century Australiasmall AustLit logo Australasian Drama Studies
    Powered by Trove