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.
'This paper responds to some of the major questions Mark McGurl raises about the ‘program era’ of creative writing in his recent major study of the postwar history of creative writing in American higher education. My aim is to bring this history up against the new wave of changes in the contemporary academy signalled by the presence and prevalence of digital media, information technology and virtual environments. A discussion of the future, the shape, and the experience of creative writing in the academy is approached tentatively here through a number of the central antinomies of the discipline. I argue that literary fiction, and modernist aesthetics, are only one, and possibly no longer a central aspect of what ‘creative writing’ might mean. As a consequence, the questions McGurl raises are less meaningful and less urgent than they once were.' (Publication abstract)
'This paper discusses the value of ekphrastic poetry through focussing on one key issue that comes into debates about it: the concept of Time. The paper begins with a brief history and analysis of the links and contrasts between poetry and painting – from Horace and Simonides through Lessing and Kant to the modern period. In doing so it also recounts differing views in the philosophy of Time. Authors whose literary works are discussed include T. S. Eliot, Kenneth Slessor and Stephen Carroll, and the author also considers one of his own ekphrastic poems, whose starting point is a painting by the Italian, Giorgio Morandi. The paper argues for a pragmatic approach to the concept of Time and for a view of ekphrastic poetry as a conversation between poetry and painting, rather than an argument. ' (Publication abstract)
'This paper is an assemblage of excerpts from a three-hour interview I conducted with Melbourne poet Π.O. in February 2013 at his home in Preston. Having recently completed a PhD dissertation examining Π.O.’s 1996 epic poem, 24 Hours, I had a number of questions about the 740-page, phonetic meditation on the suburb of Fitzroy. From the original 13,000-word interview transcript, I have chosen to focus on discussions of Π.O.’s methods in writing 24 Hours, his epic-in-progress The Everything Poem, and his sense of identity as an Australian epic poet.' (Publication abstract)
'Fay Zwicky has kept a journal in longhand since 1975. Now up to its thirteenth volume, it is a combination of writer’s commonplace book, poetry work-book, and personal journal. In its pages Zwicky reflects on what it means for an artist with a cosmopolitan imagination to engage in and sustain a creative life in an isolated place. The following extracts are taken from Volume 5, which spans 1988 to 1992, when Zwicky was truly ‘mid-way through this life’. Here she is coming to terms with great loss, and is both stoical and open to the absurd. The volume is full of dreams and the unbidden arrival of deep childhood memories, which are interspersed with wide-ranging discussions of books, poems, music, and films, and with Zwicky’s often acerbic observations of herself and the world. What unites all these elements is the poetic logic of the journal. Images of light and dark recur, along with images of water, underworlds, and mothers. At this time, Zwicky is also exploring how she might approach a poetic voice as close to natural speech as possible. Beneath it all lies her continuing political engagement, and her telling observation that she is a poet ‘in the old vulnerable sense’. – Lucy Dougan
'To write sociopolitical fiction is to be caught in an odd double bind. The term itself, ‘sociopolitical’ (hyphenated or not), implies an ‘assemblage’, and the terms it combines—‘the social’ and ‘the political’—each suggest complex, worldly assemblages. However, the more the writer attempts to express the assembled complexity of the sociopolitical domain, the more he/she feels a tug in the other direction: towards the version of ideas that might best explain the sociopolitical world and motivate political action. This article engages with the aesthetic and political challenges that arise in writing within a genre in which, to some extent at least, a moral content is desired by readers as an explanation for sociopolitical issues, only to be resisted when, as it often does, it becomes didactic. Co-author Cathryn Perazzo’s sociopolitical novel-in-progress, Surface Tension, is, we suggest, a laboratory of an assemblage in action. In it, we test and elaborate our hypothesis of the ‘assembled idea’ or ‘assembled morality’ of the sociopolitical novel. We conclude with a look at a published short story, ‘Shameʼ, by co-author Patrick West, which similarly deals with the sociopolitical, with how ‘non-didactic didacticisms’ might be germinated, and, most explicitly, with the ‘event’, following Deleuze’s use of this term. ' (Publication abstract)
'This essay offers detailed readings of Toby Davidson’s ‘Double Dragon’ (2012) and Connor Weightman’s ‘Garden Pixels’ (2013) as examples of contemporary Australian poems concerned with computer games. Unpacking the computer game allusions in each work, the essay demonstrates how games might supply a rich background for specific poems, both in particular game content, but also in the complexities of the material form of the video game. The readings of each poem take into consideration theoretical perspectives (such as N. Katherine Hayles’s account of transhumanism), as well as insights from game studies (including work on controllers by Bjorn Nansen and Graeme Kirkpatrick) and more traditional literary comparisons (such as works by Franz Kakfa and Philip Salom).' (Publication abstract)
'The Visions of Australia program, established in 1994, plays a significant role in the touring of exhibitions from, and to, regional and interstate locations across Australia. Through an examination of Round 32 of the Visions of Australia program this article explores the intersection of localities in the conception of a national culture. Focusing on the exhibitions MAYS, Australian Minescapes, Smalltown and Robert Dowling it illustrates that assemblage theory presents an alternative conception of national culture that focuses upon relationships and networks, as opposed to a traditional conception of a set society and culture. Within the framework of Latour’s ‘society of assemblages’ it concludes that these exhibitions operate within a heterogeneous national culture that is continually redefined and reoriented through a spectrum of external and internal relationships.' (Publication summary)