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Contemporary Australian Literature (LITR19057)
Semester 2 / 2016

Texts

y separately published work icon Speaking in Tongues Andrew Bovell , 1996 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press Playbox Theatre , 1998 Z166331 1996 single work drama (taught in 10 units) 'Two couples set out to betray their partners...

'A lover returns from the past and a husband doesn’t answer the phone... A woman disappears and a neighbour is the prime suspect... Contracts are broken between intimates and powerful bonds are formed between strangers.

'In Andrew Bovell’s masterfully interconnected polyphony, an evocative mystery unravels at the same time as a devastating tale of disconnection between individuals, partners and communities.' (Production summary)
y separately published work icon Bliss Peter Carey , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1981 8407782 1981 single work novel (taught in 11 units)

'For thirty-nine years Harry Joy has been the quintessential good guy. But one morning Harry has a heart attack on his suburban front lawn, and, for the space of nine minutes, he becomes a dead guy. And although he is resuscitated, he will never be the same. For, as Peter Carey makes abundantly clear in this darkly funny novel, death is sometimes a necessary prelude to real life.' (From the author's website.)

y separately published work icon My Brother Jack : A Novel George Johnston , London Sydney : Collins , 1964 Z824887 1964 single work novel (taught in 13 units)

''The thing I am trying to get at is what made Jack different from me. Different all through our lives, I mean, and in a special sense, not just older or nobler or braver or less clever.'

'David and Jack Meredith grow up in a patriotic suburban Melbourne household during the First World War, and go on to lead lives that could not be more different. Through the story of the two brothers, George Johnston created an enduring exploration of two Australian myths: that of the man who loses his soul as he gains worldly success, and that of the tough, honest Aussie battler, whose greatest ambition is to serve his country during the war. Acknowledged as one of the true Australian classics, My Brother Jack is a deeply satisfying, complex and moving literary masterpiece. ' (Publication summary)

y separately published work icon Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Ray Lawler , 1955 London Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1957 Z522838 1955 single work drama (taught in 56 units)

'The most famous Australian play and one of the best loved, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is a tragicomic story of Roo and Barney, two Queensland sugar-cane cutters who go to Melbourne every year during the 'layoff' to live it up with their barmaid girl friends. The title refers to kewpie dolls, tawdry fairground souvenirs, that they brings as gifts and come, in some readings of the play, to represent adolescent dreams in which the characters seem to be permanently trapped. The play tells the story in traditional well-made, realistic form, with effective curtains and an obligatory scene. Its principal appeal – and that of two later plays with which it forms The Doll Trilogy – is the freshness and emotional warmth, even sentimentality, with which it deals with simple virtues of innocence and youthful energy that lie at the heart of the Australian bush legend.

'Ray Lawler’s play confronts that legend with the harsh new reality of modern urban Australia. The 17th year of the canecutters’ arrangement is different. There has been a fight on the canefields and Roo, the tough, heroic, bushman, has arrived with his ego battered and without money. Barney’s girl friend Nancy has left to get married and is replaced by Pearl, who is suspicious of the whole set-up and hopes to trap Barney into marriage. The play charts the inevitable failure of the dream of the layoff, the end of the men’s supremacy as bush heroes and, most poignantly, the betrayal of the idealistic self-sacrifice made by Roo’s girl friend Olive – the most interesting character – to keep the whole thing going. The city emerges victorious, but the emotional tone of the play vindicates the fallen bushman.'

Source: McCallum, John. 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.' Companion to Theatre in Australia. Ed. Philip Parson and Victoria Chance. Sydney: Currency Press , 1997: 564-656.

y separately published work icon The Eye of the Storm Patrick White , London : Jonathan Cape , 1973 Z463974 1973 single work novel (taught in 7 units)
y separately published work icon Dirt Music Tim Winton , Sydney : Picador , 2001 Z918096 2001 single work novel (taught in 15 units)

'Georgie Jutland is a mess. At forty, with her career in ruins, she finds herself stranded in White Point with a fisherman she doesn't love and two kids whose dead mother she can never replace. Her days have fallen into domestic tedium and social isolation. Her nights are a blur of vodka and pointless loitering in cyberspace. Leached of all confidence, Georgie has lost her way; she barely recognises herself.

'One morning, in the boozy pre-dawn gloom, she looks up from the computer screen to see a shadow lurking on the beach below, and a dangerous new element enters her life. Luther Fox, the local poacher. Jinx. Outcast...' (From the publisher's website.)

y separately published work icon Carpentaria Alexis Wright , Artarmon : Giramondo Publishing , 2006 Z1184902 2006 single work novel (taught in 47 units) Carpentaria's portrait of life in the precariously settled coastal town of Desperance centres on the powerful Phantom family, whose members are the leaders of the Pricklebush people, and their battles with old Joseph Midnight's tearaway Eastend mob on the one hand, and the white officials of Uptown and the neighbouring Gurfurrit mine on the other. Wright's storytelling is operatic and surreal: a blend of myth and scripture, politics and farce. The novel is populated by extraordinary characters - Elias Smith the outcast saviour, the religious zealot Mozzie Fishman, leader of the holy Aboriginal pilgrimage, the murderous mayor Stan Bruiser, the ever-vigilant Captain Nicoli Finn, the activist and prodigal son Will Phantom, and above all, Angel Day the queen of the rubbish-dump, and her sea-faring husband Normal Phantom, the fish-embalming king of time - figures that stand like giants in this storm-swept world. (Backcover)
y separately published work icon The Orchard Drusilla Modjeska , Sydney : Macmillan , 1994 Z327201 1994 selected work short story (taught in 3 units)
y separately published work icon The Puncher & Wattmann Anthology of Australian Poetry John Leonard (editor), Glebe : Puncher and Wattmann , 2009 Z1674214 2009 anthology poetry (taught in 16 units)

Description

The aim of Contemporary Australian Literature is to show how Australia as a nation is imagined through various contemporary works of literature (fiction, poetry, short stories, poetry), particularly from the immediate post-war period until now (1945 onwards). Students will explore the ways in which Australian identities are constituted, changed and challenged by these texts, through a variety of critical perspectives and contexts of reception.

Other Details

Current Campus: Distance
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