Unit Suitable For
AC: Year 12 (Literature Unit 3). Also suitable for Year 10 English and Year 11 Literature.
Aboriginality, Australian country life, love, prejudice, reconciliation, relationships
Intercultural understanding, Literacy
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
'This is a narrative paper that tracks a story of Aboriginal representation and the concept of nation across the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries through some important Australian texts. I read this assemblage of settler literature through the cultural metaphor of tracking, because tracking is as much about anticipation as it is following. Tracking is about reading: reading land and people before and after whitefellas. It is about entering into the consciousness of the person or people of interest. Tracking is not just about reading the physical signs; it is about reading the mind. It is not just about seeing and hearing what is there; it is as much about what is not there. Tony Morrisson [sic] wrote of mapping ‘the critical geography’ (3) of the white literary imagination in her work on Africanist presence in American Literature, Playing in the Dark. This paper tracks the settler imagination on Aboriginal presence in Australian literature in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. ' (Author's introduction)
'Coonardoo takes place in 1929 at Wytaliba, a remote cattle station in the north of Western Australia. It is a tragedy that spans three generations of white settlers, with the main players being Mrs Bessie (Mumae), her son Hughie and Hughie’s daughter, Phyllis. Shadowing their trajectory is Coonardoo, a young Aboriginal girl who is the same age as Hughie, and who grows up in parallel with him. Although Coonardoo and Hughie are bound to each other and the country of Wytaliba, both marry people within their cultural set, but not before conceiving a child together. It is this child that fuels Hughie’s separation from his wife. She packs herself and her daughters off to Perth but eventually the eldest daughter Phyllis, who feels an overwhelming attachment to the north-west, returns.' (Introduction)