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Bruce Bennett Bruce Bennett i(A32904 works by) (a.k.a. B. Bennett; B. H. Bennett; Bruce Harry Bennett)
Born: Established: 23 Mar 1941 Subiaco, Inner Perth, Perth, Western Australia, ; Died: Ceased: 14 Apr 2012 Hughes, Woden Valley area, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory,
Gender: Male
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Professor Bruce Bennett was born in Perth, Western Australia, in 1941. He was educated at West Leederville State School, Hale School and the University of Western Australia. A Rhodes Scholar, he is a graduate of the Universities of Western Australia, Oxford and London.

Professor Bennett taught at the University of Western Australia from 1968 to 1992, where he was Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Studies in Australian Literature. He edited the quarterly literary magazine Westerly with Peter Cowan from 1975 to 1992, and, from 1993, was Professor of English at University College, University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra.

Professor Bennett wrote and edited numerous books, articles and reports on Australian literature, culture and society. He held visiting appointments at universities in Asia, Europe and North America, served on the Australian National Commission for UNESCO from 1985 to 1990 and was a member of the Australia-India Council, with special interests in developing Australian studies courses in Indian universities.

Professor Bennett was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1993 for services to Australian literature and university education, was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1995 and was awarded a Doctor of Letters by published work at the University of New South Wales in 2004. He chaired the Modern Language Association of America's Division 33 (Literatures in English Other Than British and American) and was Vice-Chair of the Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies. In November 2004, Professor Bennett was re-elected to the Council of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, where he served as general editor of publications.

In 2005, Professor Bennett took up an Overseas Fellowship at Churchill College, England. Later in that year he became the Group of Eight Chair at The Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies at Georgetown University, Washington DC, for the duration of the 2005-2006 academic year.

Professor Bennett co-edited the Oxford Literary History of Australia (1998), with Jennifer Strauss. His other major publications include Spirit in Exile: Peter Porter and his Poetry (1991), which won the Western Australian Premier's Award for Non-Fiction, An Australian Compass: Essays on Place and Direction in Australian Literature (1991) and Australian Short Fiction: A History (2002).

Professor Bennett was the inaugural chair of the AustLit Advisory Board.


Most Referenced Works


  • A colloquium, Home and Away - Writing about Place, in honour of Professor Bennett was held on 24-25 October 2008 at the National Library of Australia, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.

Personal Awards

2001 recipient Centenary Medal For service to Australian society and the humanities in the study of literature.
1995 recipient Australian Academy of the Humanities Fellowships and Medals Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities
1993 Order of Australia Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) For services to Australian literature and university education,

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Australian Short Fiction : A History St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2002 Z969169 2002 multi chapter work criticism A comprehensive survey of Australian short fiction from 1825 to 2001 which looks at social and literary movements and preoccupations as well as the works of individual writers.
2003 shortlisted New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards Gleebooks Prize for Literary or Cultural Criticism
y separately published work icon Spirit in Exile : Peter Porter and His Poetry Melbourne : Oxford University Press , 1991 Z152404 1991 selected work criticism biography
1992 winner Western Australian Premier's Book Awards Historical and Critical Studies
y separately published work icon Westerly 1956 Arts Union, University of Western Australia , 1956-1963 Z872534 1956 periodical (213 issues)

Westerly began as a student-edited magazine of the Arts Union of the University of Western Australia in December 1956. Published three times a year, the magazine had an annual editorial turnover until 1962 when J. M. S. O'Brien began a term which lasted until 1965. From the beginning, Westerly struggled to find a balance between serving the West Australian region and maintaining an intellectual connection with the eastern states and the rest of the world. Attempting to encourage writing in the region, Westerly sought poetry and fiction from emerging writers, but it was not until the early 1960s that contributions of a consistently high quality were received.

When J. M. S. O'Brien finished his term as editor, Westerly was produced by a group of editorial associates, rather than a clearly defined editor, until 1975. Bruce Bennett, Peter Cowan and John Barnes, members of the English Department, acted as primary editors during this time until Bennett and Cowan were appointed joint editors in 1975. Delys Bird and Dennis Haskell, also members of the English Department, began their term as co-editors in 1993. Published by the Centre for Studies in Australian Literature since 1982, Westerly maintains a strong connection with the English Department at the University of Western Australia.

During the 1960s Westerly concentrated on original work, publishing the first works of a number of significant writers, including Frank Moorhouse, Murray Bail and Michael Wilding (qq.v.). The number of poems also increased during this time. Westerly attracted contributions from Bruce Dawe, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Gwen Harwood, Dorothy Hewett, Fay Zwicky, Hal Colebatch and William Grono (qq.v.). Westerly continued to attract quality fiction and poetry in the 1970s, publishing the work of a number of writers, including Vicki Viidikas, T. A. G. Hungerford, James McQueen, Peter Murphy, Peter Goldsworthy, Wendy Jenkins, Jean Kent, Richard Carey and John Bryson (qq.v.).

Reviews and criticism were not plentiful during the 1960s, partly because Perth's The Critic already performed that function for the local community. This changed slowly during the 1970s following the establishment of a BA course in Australian literature at the University of Western Australia in 1973. By the late 1970s, the number of reviews and articles had steadily increased to cater for students of Australian literature, but the editors tried to avoid an overly academic tone to maintain a broad readership.

Westerly occasionally produced special issues during the 1960s and 1970s. This became more regular in the late 1980s and 1990s when the fourth issue of the year concentrated on a particular theme. One of the more significant has been Westerly's special issues on South East Asia. Earlier issues display an interest in countries common to the Indian Ocean, but this gradually expanded to include the wider Asian region. The extent of this concentration is exhibited in the book of extracts Westerly Looks to Asia: A Selection from Westerly 1956-1992 (1993). Other special issues have examined Australian Jewish writing, the relationship between Australia and the Mediterranean, environmental issues and justice.

Like most literary magazines, Westerly has struggled to attract funding. Early volumes included a significant amount of advertising. The financial burden was eased when the first ongoing grant from the Australian government was received in 1963. Westerly has since received assistance from the university and state and national bodies, but this funding steadily decreased during the 1990s. As a result, the magazine changed format in 1996. Four years later, as a result of continuing financial pressure, Westerly affiliated itself with John Kinsella's literary magazine Salt. An editorial note stated that this resulted in 'wider distribution, and a broader and more international profile, putting it in a unique position among Australian literary magazines.' With this affiliation, Westerly has appeared annually since 2000, sharing the year (and subscribers) with Salt, which appears during the first half of each year. Westerly continues to cover West Australian, Australian and Asian literature while Salt offers subscribers an annual of European and American literature.

2020 recipient Australia Council Grants, Awards and Fellowships Organisations $35,212
2020 recipient Australia Council Grants, Awards and Fellowships Literature Arts Projects for Organisations     $20,510 
Last amended 11 Mar 2015 13:51:01
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