'Despite waves of interest in the work of Christina Stead, one aspect of her writing life has been largely neglected. From September 1943, she taught three series of extended writing workshops in New York and in the process left more than three hundred pages documenting her teaching. The question motivating this paper is: Why should we, as writers and teachers of writing, read her writing workshop notebooks nowadays? This paper will place Stead’s workshop in the context of the development of institutional teaching of novel writing and her emergence as a major writer. It will briefly examine how the notebooks have previously been understood and offer a closer analysis than has been made to date of the notebooks and their content and of the key issues raised by them. In particular, we shall explore her pedagogic focus upon workshop participants developing a rigorous, analytical approach to crafting novels and her extensive use of Georges Polti’s Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations to achieve this. That, in turn, will enable us to assess what the notebooks independently reveal about her beliefs regarding the novel and its purpose. ' (Publication summary)
Nicholas Birns examines the transnational turns in Russian and Australian literature, with particular attention to the intersections of the two literatures.
'After a year in New York in 1935-1936, Christina Stead commented that "the whole spirit of New York is opposed to the creative mind". Yet America and Americans became the matter of five of her subsequent novels. After a leftwing Australian background and a number of years in socialist milieus in London and Paris, Stead was an intriguing reader of 1940s America. In her late American work, I'm Dying Laughing (begun 1949, published 1986), Stead became that most precarious of things - a leftwing critic of the Left during the early Cold War. Desire for success and the accompanying fear of failure are thematised by Stead as "the American dilemma" - the contradictory relationship between collective action and individual survival at the heart of American national identity that she saw as no less forceful and tragic for many on the Left.' (Author's abstract)