AustLit logo
Issue Details: First known date: 1997... 1997 Literature, Mythmaking and National Identity: The Case for Seven Little Australians
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.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Drawing attention to the pedagogical function of children's literature, Pearce's examination of Ethel Turner's Seven Little Australians considers how this text in particular, 'constructs national identity and how gender plays a crucial role in the mythologising process' (11). Pearce outlines the historical and literary context of the 1890's by referring to Frank L. Baum's The Wizard of Oz (American) and Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows (English), as having the power to transmit 'myth-like messages about national identity' (10). She includes a brief synopsis of E L Haverfield's Queensland Cousins as an example of the predominance of British social (class) and moral values in children's literature at the time, which frames her reading of Turner's novel as distinctly Australian in its nationalist/patriotic discourse. However, Pearce concludes that while initially Seven Little Australians appears different from other colonial children's novels, essentially it maintains and perpetuates similar gender, race and class hierarchies to those of its counterparts. She contends that fundamentally, the narrative's representation of gender reinforces patriachal dominance and hegemonic masculinity and that the novels 'myth-making centres it very much in the misogynistic literary world of its time. In the end, female characters, like their creators, are put back firmly into their place' (16).

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Last amended 6 May 2015 10:50:49
10-16 Literature, Mythmaking and National Identity: The Case for Seven Little Australianssmall AustLit logo Papers : Explorations into Children's Literature