'The “generation of 68” is a contested label applied to a loose group of Australian poets who began writing and publishing in the late 1960s. The thesis questions how this loose group of Australian poets can be understood as a generation, and uses network theory to map connections between generation of 68 poets. The application of network theory to literary studies presents a method for addressing as individuals poets who are also aligned with a generation. Central to the thesis is John Tranter’s The New Australian Poetry (1979) anthology, which attempts a definition of the generation of 68, and includes twenty-four poets Tranter identifies as belonging to the generation of 68. These poets include Robert Adamson, Charles Buckmaster, Michael Dransfield, and John Forbes.
'The generation of 68 poets presents unique difficulties to the researcher and critic due to the imprecise nature of literary generations. One of the main guiding questions for this thesis has been how to critically approach a group like the generation of 68 when the label, and the generation itself, is still so contested. Critical approaches to the generation of 68 often overlook the importance of the group dynamics on the poets and the poetry.
'Network theory offers a way to examine the dynamics of the group and the impact these relationships have not only on the formation of the generation, but also on the poets’ writing and publishing. By tracing the network connections, this thesis shows that the poets in The New Australian Poetry are part of overlapping poetry communities. What also becomes clear is that the label, generation of 68, is useful as a way to begin thinking about a large number of poets publishing during this period, and that the application of a decentralised understanding of network connections and vectors of sociability offer a new reading of this group of Australian poets.
'The thesis presents a taxonomy of little poetry magazines, to which generation of 68 poets contributed from 1968 to 1979, as a way of reading connections in the network. It also examines textual representations of sociability through generation of 68 poets’ use of names in poetry, with a specific focus on elegies written for deceased generation of 68 poets. The thesis considers the ongoing nature of these dialogues and the continuing connections between these poets. Significantly, it offers a new approach to the generation of 68 as a literary generation and provides a two-step approach for using network theory to examine a generation.' (Author's abstract)