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'This paper interprets Ned Kelly's letter to Sergeant Babington, written when Kelly was fifteen, as a sonnet. This opens up the text to a range of meanings inaccessible to a reading of it as a conventional message.'
'The international genre of true crime writing has been adapted and reinvented in specific ways in an Australian context, where true crime has a particular cultural resonance in rhetorics of nation. The settlement of Australia as a penal colony, the violent and unresolved history of relations between settler and Indigenous cultures, and our national mythmaking surrounding criminal figures highlight the centrality of true crime and its narration to formations of national identity. True crime is a popular and growing contemporary genre, typically concentrating upon certain events and figures as kinds of cultural flashpoints, and it also has a long history, from colonial narratives to early twentieth-century pulp fiction. Yet it has been critically neglected in almost all its Australian forms. This article begins to explore what constitutes true crime writing in Australia, and the ramifications that examining this genre has for changing constructions of nation, culture and history. It is particularly interested in the way in which the genre exploits a narrative tension between story and discourse to mobilise the power of myth, superstition and affect. This fuels the genre's exploration of cultural anxieties surrounding particular figures and events, and the paper uses the seminal text of Evil Angels to exemplify the narrative strategies at work in the genre and their effect on the terms and certainties of national formations.' (Author's abstract)
'This essay connects Praed's writing with late nineteenth and early twentieth century history with particular reference to the race issue. It explores races discourses -- Anglo-Saxonism, Celticism and Social Darwininism -- as thse appear in range of Praed's work and shows how scientific racism shaped Praed's reaction to Black Australia.'
'Herbert's Poor Fellow My Country (1975) anticipated edgy twenty-first century national conversations about race relations and ecology currently occurring in Australia in the disciplines of history and historiography, anthropology, eco-philosophy, and literature. Set in the remote pastoral frontier of the Northern Territory in the 1930s and 1940s, the novel anatomises the genocidal practices of an encyclopaedic range of Australian institutions (political movements of the left and right, the squattocracy, the church, the law, the education and 'welfare' bureaucracies) and satirises the 'Aboriginal industry's' systematic ignorance and denigration of Aboriginal culture. The novel promotes a new kind of nationalism which incorporates Indigenous citizenry as active players. Despite its manifest flaws, its ideological hyperbole and intense pessimism, and perhaps because of its extraordinarily expansive canvas (it is longer than War and Peace) and its formal experimentation, the novelist's level of familiarity with Aboriginal culture, and his humanity are remarkable and prescient, especially in the light of current dysfunctionality in Aboriginal communities that have been systematically robbed of cultural pride. This paper looks behind Herbert's satire (tub-thumpery?) to his radical views on what Aboriginal culture and in particular its mythological understandings of land have to offer to the "common-wealth". The novel will be read in the light of contemporary post-colonially-inflected and Indigenous-centred oral history, mythology, and Australian eco-philosophy.' (Author's abstract)
David Foster's novels consistently interpret Australia as 'colonial', with its white settlers denied any spiritual connection with the natural environment, and its indigenous people displaced and damaged by white settlement. Moonlite (1981) follows the displacement of indigenous people from the outlying islands of Scotland to become the settlers of a colony like Australia, and in turn displace the Aborigines. The Glade Within the Grove proposes a radical new religion, based on the castration rites of the ancient world, that might overcome white Australians' alienation from the land with a new commitment to the environment. But Foster's most recent novels suggest a loss of hope in Australia, as In the New Country offers a farcical parody of The Glade, and The Land Where Stories End seeks spiritual consolation in a fairytale set in seventh-century Ireland, that recalls the sacred sites of the Scottish islanders in Moonlite. This article examines these two novels as the impossible search of a 'colonial mongrel' for a sacred place, in Ireland or Australia, and the signs that such a place may belong in a lost time, only accessible through writing. In Foster's novels writing is the last resort for the sacred, in a world engulfed by a global economic imperialism. (Author's abstract)
'The extended courtship correspondence of Vance and Nettie Palmer, Australia's most significant literary couple between the wars, begun in 1909 ended with their marriage in 1914. Like the literary exchanges between Robert Browning and Emily Barrett, and Dowell O'Reilly and his wife to be, they discuss the nature and meaning of life and love, the relations between language, poetry, spirit and emotion, their future together and politics. The private letter is an action or gesture, as well as a representation of one, and in Vance's case often experienced as a kiss. Multiple readings - rhetorical, historical, biographical and psychological - are possible but the content of the letters has also a creative function. In Vance's understanding of the 'universe' and their individual place within it, through the erotic charge between them, in their rapture, we can begin to make visible the Palmers' disruption of their colonial present in their defiance of conventional understandings of male and female friendship, and marriage.'
Much of David Malouf's writing enacts what may be referred to as 'spatial memory'. His poetry utilises a uniquely 'layered' time-perspective in which Malouf repeatedly revisits places of personal significance over numerous collections and, through memory and imagination, imbues these spaces with mythological significance. This process can be seen as a direct response to what Malouf perceives as 'the need to remap the world so that wherever you happen to be is the centre'. Although it may at first appear as simply an autobiographical phenomenon, this process of 'spatial memory' is also revealed as significant on a broader social level, as part of Malouf's longstanding project of redefining Australia, in the eyes of its inhabitants, as a significant cultural and literary centre. When Malouf began publishing in the nineteen-sixties, his poetry, as well as his first novel Johnno, focused on the tension between the perceived 'provinciality' of Australia and the 'exoticism' of the cultural and colonial centres of England and Europe. It is arguable that Malouf's literary remapping of centre and edge is still pertinent today, though now in relation to the increasing cultural dominance of the United States. This essay examines the role of 'spatial memory' in Malouf's poetry, focusing in particular on his numerous poems devoted to the area around Moreton Bay. It demonstrates the process by which these poems of personal memoir become significant on the broader level of social memory, and draws this exploration into a discussion of Malouf's politics of space and memory. (Author's abstract)
In Janette Turner Hospital's fifth novel The Last Magician this world-wandering daughter of Australian literature returns to the place she still calls 'home'. The novel is set mainly in central Sydney, however, the narrative could well take place in any city of the developed new world, whether real or illusionary, and still anxious for self-definition. The narrative is grounded in the notion that a sense of the surreal will always remain in the mental landscape of any social and geographical space that refuses to admit the interaction of the marginalised, or alienates and denies the value of difference. Among other things, this paper argues that the novel declares an unwillingness to accept woman's value as determined and measured by the already spoken rules and expectations of patriarchal discourse. Woman's silence is wielded here as a weapon of resistance -- an unconventional, anti-establishment form of power that recognises how language deceives and wishes to give the silences their say (120). (Author's abstract)
'Gail Jones's first three novels deal with Australians who travel or live abroad and engage with aspects of modern global culture. In Black Mirror (2002), an Australian artist moves to Paris in the 1930s and becomes part of the surrealist movement; years later, another Australian woman, an art historian, follows her to Europe to research her biography. Sixty Lights (2004) begins in Australia but the action soon moves to London and then to India, thereby locating Australia within the international landscape of the late nineteenth-century British world. In Dreams of Speaking (2006), an Australian academic, Alice Black, travels from Perth to Paris to research a book on "the poetics of modernity". She there meets an elderly Japanese man, Mr Sakamoto, who is also interested in modernity and its technologies, and who is writing a biography of Alexander Bell, the inventor of the telephone. Alice's project begins as a theoretical enterprise, as she sets out to understand the operations of global modernity and the nature of modern time and space. Yet in the opening pages of the novel, after her return from Paris, her manuscript lies abandoned on her desk like 'something dead and unconnected' (6). In this paper, I examine how her meeting with Mr Sakamoto and her grief for his death cause her to abandon that initial project for one of a different kind, which involves her telling the story of their friendship. Alice's recognition that modernity is haunted by the persistence of the unmodern, especially death and mourning, transforms her poetics of modernity into a meditation on the ethics of friendship.' (Author's abstract)
'A discussion based on the Black Words Plenary Session held at the 2007 'Colonial Present' ASAL conference. Jared Thomas talks about his experience in teaching Aboriginal studies, especially writing by Aborigines, to a range of students at the University of South Australia. He discusses some of the sensitivities of teachers and students when confronting this material, and the importance of including Aboriginal writers in the program.'