AustLit logo
Ken Gelder Ken Gelder i(A16102 works by) (a.k.a. Kenneth Gelder)
Born: Established: 1955
United Kingdom (UK),
Western Europe, Europe,
Gender: Male
Arrived in Australia: 1964
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.


Ken Gelder has an MA (Flinders University, South Australia) and a PhD (Stirling University, Scotland). He joined the University of Melbourne in 1989 and has since taught across the Literary Studies and Cultural Studies programs in a variety of areas: from popular culture to literary theory. In 1994 and 1995 he was a Reader in English and Cultural Studies at De Montfort University, England. He teaches courses in modern and contemporary literature, popular/genre fiction and subcultural studies. His books, Reading the Vampire (1994) and Popular Fiction: The Logics and Practices of a Literary Field (2004), have helped to make him an international authority on genre fiction. The co-written Uncanny Australia (1998) - with Jane M. Jacobs (now at the University of Edinburgh) - has been especially influential, both nationally and internationally, on subsequent postcolonial work across a range of disciplines. He has also published widely on subcultures, with one reviewer of his book Subcultures: Cultural Histories and Social Practice (2007) remarking, 'Ken Gelder is an author you can rely on for an entertaining pedagogical ride'. Gelder has also co-written two Australian literary histories, covering the period 1970-2007, and has been involved in a major research project to develop an archive of colonial Australian popular fiction, available at

Most Referenced Works

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Colonial Australian Fiction : Character Types, Social Formations and the Colonial Economy Sydney : Sydney University Press , 2017 11551284 2017 multi chapter work criticism

'Over the course of the nineteenth century a remarkable array of types appeared – and disappeared – in Australian literature: the swagman, the larrikin, the colonial detective, the bushranger, the “currency lass”, the squatter, and more. Some had a powerful influence on the colonies’ developing sense of identity; others were more ephemeral. But all had a role to play in shaping and reflecting the social and economic circumstances of life in the colonies.

'In Colonial Australian Fiction: Character Types, Social Formations and the Colonial Economy, Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver explore the genres in which these characters flourished: the squatter novel, the bushranger adventure, colonial detective stories, the swagman’s yarn, the Australian girl’s romance. Authors as diverse as Catherine Helen Spence, Rosa Praed, Henry Kingsley, Anthony Trollope, Henry Lawson, Miles Franklin, Barbara Baynton, Rolf Boldrewood, Mary Fortune and Marcus Clarke were fascinated by colonial character types, and brought them vibrantly to life.

'As this book shows, colonial Australian character types are fluid, contradictory and often unpredictable. When we look closely, they have the potential to challenge our assumptions about fiction, genre and national identity.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2019 longlisted ASAL Awards Walter McRae Russell Award
Last amended 11 Jul 2018 12:40:35
Other mentions of "" in AustLit: