AustLit logo
Issue Details: First known date: 2010... 2010 Reading Across the Pacific : Australia-United States Intellectual Histories
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

'Reading Across the Pacific is a study of literary and cultural engagement between the United States and Australia from a contemporary interdisciplinary perspective. The book examines the relations of the two countries, shifting the emphasis from the broad cultural patterns that are often compared, to the specific networks, interactions, and crossings that have characterised Australian literature in the United States and American literature in Australia.
In the twenty-first century, both American and Australian literatures are experiencing new challenges to the very different paradigms of literary history and criticism each inherited from the twentieth century. In response to these challenges, scholars of both literatures are seizing the opportunity to reassess and reconfigure the conceptual geography of national literary spaces as they are reformed by vectors that evade or exceed them, including the transnational, the local and the global.
The essays in Reading Across the Pacific are divided into five sections: National Literatures and Transnationalism, Poetry and Poetics, Literature and Popular Culture, The Cold War, and Publishing History and Transpacific Print Cultures' (Source: Publisher's website).

Contents

* Contents derived from the Sydney, New South Wales,:Sydney University Press , 2010 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Reading Across the Pacific : Introduction, Robert Dixon , 2010 single work criticism
'Reading Across the Pacific is the first book-length study of literary and cultural engagement between the United States and Australia from a contemporary interdisciplinary perspective. Previous studies have been specialised, un- or under-theorised, and spoke to a narrowly bilateral context. Reading Across the Pacific, by contrast, is fully enmeshed in contemporary methodological debates: it does not just link the United States and Australia in one-to-one dialogue but brings in the ambient circumstances of the Pacific Rim and Oceania. Importantly, it participates in a clearly identified 'transnational turn' in the study of both American and Australian literatures to which it is designed as both a response and a provocation.' (p. xiii)
(p. xiii-xxi)
Antipodal Propinquities? : Environmental (Mis)Perceptions in American and Australian Literary History, Lawrence Buell , 2010 single work criticism
This paper focuses on certain challenges for environmental memory that seem to follow from historic quasi-affinities of Australia and the United States as Anglocentric settler cultures with longstanding frontier/outback traditions driven by boom-and-bust capitalism that in modern times have become much more self-consciously multi-cultural, much more urbanized, and much more ecologically self-conscious.
Specific issues discussed will include the quest for fuller recuperation of the ecocultural past (imagining ethno-racial and biodiversity across much longer horizons of time and space than colonial/national) and the proclivity for representing inland space as remote, opaque, gothic. Writers engaged during the course of the lecture may include Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Willa Cather, William Faulkner, Linda Hogan, Barry Lopez, William Least Heat Moon; Barbara Baynton, Patrick White (Author's abstract)
(p. 3-22)
Antipodean America : Charles Brockden Brown, New Holland, and the Constitution of U.S. Literature”, Paul Giles , 2010 single work criticism
'This paper will consider the theoretical implications of reading American and Australian/New Zealand literature against each other, in a transnational orientation. It will suggest ways in which the "transpacific" might in itself be too constricting a term to describe this conceptual framework, since both the United States and Australia also related in triangular ways to the colonizing culture of imperial Britain. The paper will take a number of nineteenth-century American authors - Charles Brockden Brown, Joel Barlow, Washington Irving, Emily Dickinson - and will suggest the importance of an antipodean imaginary to their writings. It will also look briefly at a number of twentieth-century authors whose work might be considered on a transpacific axis - Christina Stead, Peter Carey, J. M. Coetzee - in order to suggest the value of a transnational approach in opening up both American and Australian literature to new horizons' (Author's abstract).
(p. 23-37)
Transcendentalism, Emerson and Nineteenth-Century Australian Literary Culture, Ken A. Stewart , 2010 single work criticism

'In Radical Cousins (1976), Joseph Jones conclusively demonstrates, within a broader project, affinities between American 'transcendentalist' literature and much colonial Australian verse: Harpur, Gay and O'Dowd, for example, are considered in relation to Emerson and Whitman. Jones reaffirms the 'American' circumstantial particularity of his 'transcendentalism', yet rightly insists also on derivative elements of its metaphysic and poetic, particularly from Coleridge and Carlyle, and from German Romanticism. The present paper will consider the colonial authors and several other manifestations of Australian 'transcendentalism' in relation to counterparts within the European diaspora, particularly American, and will discuss various contextual responses to the shared war against utilitarianism. Authors to be discussed to whom Jones gives little attention include Marcus Clarke, Catherine Spence and Ada Cambridge, as well as the painters Streeton and Roberts and from the early twentieth century, Elioth Gruner.

The challenges to Australian literary historiography presented by Jones's insights have been generally neglected. This paper will attempt to extend his approach by suggesting a frame of reference which individuates colonial Australian 'transcendentalism' by relating its common elements to different but pertinent colonial circumstances (both locally and globally conditioned) concerning, for example, 'nature', landscape and ecology; industrialism and urban settlement; philosophical idealism and Romantic theory. Questions will be raised concerning literary history, and also its relationship to nationalism: for example, why is 'transcendentalism' more prominent in American literary historiography than in its Australian counterpart, especially since its widespread significance can so readily and obviously be perceived? Why, indeed, is it erased or simply not seen? Why do discourses of literary nationalism in America focus on 'transcendentalism' whereas in Australia it is marginalized or excluded? What is the Australian colonial relationship, if any, between literary idealism and social improvement or transformation, in comparison with the social optimism and practical activism promoted by American literary transcendentalism?' (Author's abstract).

(p. 39-61)
American Friends : Clinton Hartley Grattan and W. W. Norton, Carol Hetherington , 2010 single work criticism

'Numerous commentators have noted affinities between Australia and America. These observations differ in tone and focus but they are all strongly indicative of a perceived connection between two countries in the 'new' world, former colonies of an imperial power. They are suggestive of literary connections that have never been fully documented or analysed. Studies of links between Australia and England exist, pitched at both the academic and the general audience. But apart from several articles by Laurie Hergenhan, and his 1995 biography of Clinton Hartley Grattan, Australian and American literary connections have been, until recently, largely unexplored.

The first large-scale, systematic examination of the area is currently in progress through David Carter's 2006 ARC-funded research project 'America Publishes Australia: Australian Books and American Publishers, 1890-2005'. If there is a commonality to be found in the history of publishing and reception of Australian literature in America it should emerge from David Carter's study, but I suspect that there will also be evidence of a significant number of unique situations and circumstances which defy generalisation. In this paper I will examine some individual cases of Americans whose connections with Australian literary culture have been of significant and lasting importance, in particular Clinton Hartley Grattan and William Warder Norton' (Author's abstract).

(p. 81-90)
Missed Appointments : Convergences and Disjunctures in Reading Australia across the Pacific, Nicholas Birns , 2010 single work criticism

'This essay will discuss both what the Australian-American cultural relationship has been built upon, and why that transpacific architecture has not been more foregrounded. It begins by focusing on Americans who had transient relationships with Australia, but ones that yet impacted on their careers and were emblematic of patterns in the transpacific relationship. The traffic between the US and Australia these individuals represent indicates that beneath formal notice there exists a patchwork of encounters ramified in such a way as to provide a base for later criss-crossings. Yet, in each case, fissures are also revealed - 'missed appointments' - that suggest why the potential transpacific 'rendezvous with destiny' was never actualised in the era where that above phrase had recent resonance.

Three of these Americans—Arlin Turner, John Hope Franklin, and Constance Helmericks--were from the West or South, and the fourth, James Michener, though from the East, early evinced an interest in parts of his country and the world beyond the Eurocentric orientation imposed on privileged Americans. The paper will also look at Margaret Mead and the entire idea of "Australasia" with which she was associated to diagnose patterns of racial and cultural images conveyed, or misconveyed, in the trans-Pacific process.' (Author's abstract).

(p. 91-103)
East–West Turnings : Australian and American Poetry in Light of Asia, Paul Kane , 2010 single work criticism

'I want to suggest in this essay something unremarkable, in the sense that it has already been remarked upon quite a lot: that both American and Australian poetry engages with the East in significant ways...With the rise of postcolonial studies, we have learned a good deal about the intersections of history, culture, power and perception. This has become not so much a field of study as a veritable Outback of study, except it isn't Outback at all: it's front and centre. But perhaps because the point is so obvious to us now we might gain something by looking at it afresh, or at least again.

My interest here, however, is not primarily in postcolonial perspectives or orientalism or subaltern studies or other similar undertakings, which typically analyse structures of dominance and resistance and illuminate ideological implications and mystifications. Indeed, the superabundance of such studies is already in excess of anything I could add. Nor am I considering the wealth of literary works that constitute Asian-American or Asian-Australian literature. My perspective is more limited, and perhaps...unremarkable. I simply want to suggest that the East so-called has also functioned as generative force - whether as provocation or inspiration - for certain poets in Australia and America, beginning in the nineteenth century and especially recently, and that there are some unusual features to this phenomenon worthy of inspection. I am going to note several examples of such poets and then say something about possible conclusions we might draw as we look to the future.' (pp. 107-108)

(p. 107-118)
Smooth and Troubled Passages Across the Pacific, Kevin Hart , 2010 single work criticism
'How do American poets see Australia in their poems? How do Australian poets see America in their poems? These two questions are answered in part by attention to several poets on either side of the Pacific. In America: Karl Shapiro, Herbert Morris, John Ashbery, John Koethe, August Kleinzahler. And in Australia: Les Murray, John Forbes, John Tranter, Robert Adamson and Robert Gray.' (Authors's abstract)
(p. 119-148)
Transnational Connectivities of Whiteness : American Blackface in Life in Sydney, Ben Miller , 2010 single work criticism
'This chapter considers a form of entertainment popular during the nineteenth century in America and Australia - blackface entertainment - to investigate some connections between the two nations. This chapter suggests that blackface entertainment was one of an array of technologies that encoded transnational views about nation, class and race. During the 1830s and 1840s, in both America and Australia, discourses of otherness energised and united a transnational community of white workers who challenged the social and cultural authority of the upper classes at the same time as asserting their authority over racial minorities.' (p. 151)
(p. 151-166)
The Novel Newspaper and its Role in the Transmission, Elizabeth Webby , 2010 single work criticism
'Given their similar beginnings as colonies, including penal colonies, of Great Britain it was inevitable that the United States would early be seen as providing a possible model for the future development of Australia. While most were concerned with political developments, those interested in the possibility of an Australian literature also looked to the American model. By the 1840s, thanks to the popularity of works like Washington Irving's The Sketch Book (1820) and the novels of James Fenimore Cooper, American literature was becoming internationally known. So much so, that canny British publishers took advantage of the lack of international copyright protection to bring out cheap editions of novels by Cooper and other Americans. While literary historians have long been aware of American piracies of works by Dickens and other British authors, little attention has been paid to British piracies of American fiction. These, marketed as the 'Novel Newspaper', were produced very cheaply and, because of their cheapness, circulated very widely throughout the Australian colonies during the 1840s. This paper will focus on the significance of the Novel Newspaper titles in the transmission of American fiction, paying particular attention to the influence of writers such as Fenimore Cooper on early Australian fiction.' (Author's abstract)
(p. 167-176)
Elvis Down Under : Simulations of a US Pop Icon in Australian Fiction, Paul Genoni , 2010 single work criticism
'This paper will examine a selection of Australian fiction which features Elvis Presley, or a Presley manqué, as a character. This will include novels and short fiction by Debra Adelaide (A Household Guide to Dying), Julie Capaldo (Weather), Nick Cave (And the Ass Saw the Angel), Gail Jones ('Heartbreak Hotel') and Dorian Mode (A Cafe in Venice). The paper will investigate the capacity of a ubiquitous pop icon such as Presley to absorb and reflect socio-cultural meanings that transcend national boundaries while at the same time affirming elements of national character. In doing so it will consider the meaning and function of trans-national celebrity in a globalised world, and explore why it is that Australian authors—and readers—find a resonance in the figure of Elvis Presley that is seemingly missing from the pop-iconography of their own country.' (Author's abstract)
(p. 177-193)
Troubled Waters : Australian Spies in the Pacific : Glimpses from the Early Twentieth Century, Bruce Bennett , 2010 single work criticism
'This paper traces aspects of intelligence history and culture in the Pacific in the first quarter of the 20th century from an Australian perspective. Following Federation in 1901, Australia began to develop an intelligence capability in the Pacific. This was characterized by small-scale, 'lone ranger' operations by individuals such as William Bridges in places such as German Samoa, New Caledonia and New Guinea. Although a degree of national self-interest was involved, such exercises reinforced Australia's role in the British empire. Coverage extended to Japan before and after the Russo-Japanese war. Over time, the focus on Japan became paramount. Whereas previous activity among colonial possessions in the South Pacific had mainly involved military reconnaissance, Australian intelligence concerning Japan involved more complex, far-reaching strategic considerations. The contributions of Edmund Piesse and writer and scholar James Murdoch gave depth to Australian analyses of Japan during and after the First World War. Their advice brought them into significant conflict with Australian Prime Minister Hughes. This paper suggests that human intelligence benefits from the study of literature, culture and history. Pacific stories such as those of Louis Becke and fictional works set in Japan such as A.G.Hales's Little Blue Pigeon or James Murdoch's stories open the imagination to foreign ways of thinking and feeling. A corollary to this paper is the need for collaborative comparative studies of intelligence cultures and their histories on both sides of the Pacific.' (Author's abstract)
(p. 209-223)
‘A Skyrocket Waiting to Be Let Off’, but to Where? Christina Stead’s First Impressions of the United States and Her Postwar Literary Rehabilitation, Michael Ackland , 2010 single work criticism
'This paper focuses on Stead's journal and manuscripts comments on Boston and Manhattan in the mid-1930s, on their ideological implications, and on the insights they provide into her imaginative projection and exploration of 'America' in her fiction.' (Author's abstract)
(p. 225-239)
The ‘American Dilemma’: Christina Stead’s Cold War Anatomy, Fiona Morrison , 2010 single work criticism

'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)

(p. 241-253)
An Imperishable Spring? Stow’s Tourmaline, the Cold War and the Phenomenon of the Star, Kerry Leves , 2010 single work criticism
'Published in 1963, the year after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Tourmaline points toward Cold War horizons. America, the guardian of the free world after World War II, was bolstered in its resistance to Communism by Christian revivalism, two of whose most gifted exponents, the Catholic priest Father Patrick Peyton and the Protestant evangelist Dr Billy Graham, made successful visits to Australia in the 1950s. In Stow's Tourmaline, the "esprit de corps" of a drought-stricken, impoverished former goldmining town in the Western Australian desert undergoes Christian revival thanks to a water diviner who calls himself Michael Random. Blond, blue-eyed, handsome and athletic, Michael is nonetheless in a state of religious crisis that is alleviated only when an old Aboriginal woman, Gloria Day, refers him to one of Jesus' parables. But Michael is already a star by virtue of the townspeople's reception of him: whether they love him or subject him to a hermeneutics of suspicion (one of the characters sarcastically calls him "the witch doctor"), Michael's every move fascinates the Tourmaliners. In the course of the novel, Michael's star is eclipsed, perhaps on the very terms of the parable cited by Gloria Day. Polarised around religious certainties and uncertainties, encompassing unrequited passions and Western-movie-style power struggles, Tourmaline could be described as an epistemological melodrama. Besides Tourmaline, the paper draws on Stow's The Bystander (1957) and Visitants (1979) for evidence of a complex, nuanced relationship between Stow's Australia, a mediated United States of America, and the 'star' phenomenon.' (Author's abstract)
(p. 255-264)
‘Turning a Place into a Field' : Shirley Hazzard’s The Great Fire and Cold War Area Studies, Robert Dixon , 2010 single work criticism
''It has been one of the enduring ironies of the study of Asia', writes Harry Harootunian, 'that Asia itself, as an object, simply doesn't exist'. In Learning Places: The Afterlives of Area Studies (2002), Harootunian and Masao Miyoshi observe that 'Historically, area studies programs...originated in the immediate post-World War II era and sought to meet the necessity of gathering and providing information about the enemy'. This was made possible by large infusions of money from a range of institutions, including private corporations, scholarly organisations and government agencies. Assisted by US military occupation, 'places' like Japan were turned into social laboratories where specialists from Europe, the US and Australia came to do field work. 'Turning a place into a field' was symptomatic of the orientalism endemic to Cold War area studies. In this chapter, I examine expatriate Australian writer Shirley Hazzard's novel The Great Fire (2003) in the context of Cold War orientalism.' (pp. 265-266)
(p. 265-279)
Literary Appreciation, American-Style : Channels of Influence in Early Twentieth-Century Australia, Patrick Buckridge , 2010 single work criticism

'There has been no comprehensive treatment of American influence on Australian English-teaching in high schools and universities prior to the Second World War. Its retrospective invisibility is a consequence, not of its real absence, but of the colonial publishing arrangements that made it difficult or impossible to import American educational books into Australia during that period.

This paper will explore two of the ways in which, despite these restrictions, American ideas and practices of literary criticism did manage to penetrate Australian English teaching before the Second World War. One of these was by the importing of American authors and texts in British imprints. British publishers like Harraps were particularly active in this area: I estimate that something like 40% of their English education list, 1901-1930, comprised American-authored books, co-published in the US by D.C. Heath, Thomas Crowell, Frederick Stokes, Houghton-Mifflin and others. The activities of the Australasian Publishing Company, established as a distribution agency by Harraps in 1916 in collaboration with Houghton-Mifflin and Constable, were especially relevant in this regard.

Other, more individual channels of influence were important too: Ernest Moll, for example, an Adelaide-born scholar and poet, graduated from Harvard, and spent his whole academic career lecturing at the University of Oregon, where he practised and wrote about literary appreciation (in the formal American sense). He also visited Australia regularly, including a two-year stint at the Sydney Teachers' College in 1939- 40, arranged by the then head of English George Mackaness. My conclusions will be based on an inspection of the large collection of correspondence between Harrap and Houghton-Mifflin at Harvard University, interviews with former employees of Harraps and of the Australasian Publishing Company, and the Ernest Moll Papers in the NLA.' (Author's abstract)

(p. 283-298)
New York City Limits : Australian Novels and American Print Culture, Roger Osborne , 2010 single work criticism
'One of the questions posed by this conference is, 'Why has Australia received so little attention in US literary circles?' This paper aims to propose an answer to that question by identifying American editions of Australian novels and by widely surveying reviews of these novels in journals and newspapers throughout the twentieth century. This survey will rely on searches conducted via the online version of the Book Review Digest and will be informed by Richard Ohmann's Politics of Letters (1987). Drawing on several sociological studies and other empirical data, Ohmann argues that canonization in the USA has relied on a small group of professional readers and a similarly small number of newspapers and journals in which these books were discussed, most of which were based within New York City limits. While Australian novels might not have been considered for canonization, the established print culture networks through which they moved ultimately influenced their critical and commercial success. Examining the degree to which Australian novels were included in the 'book talk' of these print culture networks provides a suitable foundation for statements about the space provided for Australian novels in US print culture. Ultimately, the limited and irregular inclusion of Australia in the 'book talk' of a small number of New York intellectuals and periodicals goes a long way to explaining why Australia has received so little attention in US literary circles.' (Author's abstract)
(p. 299-308)
Rejected by America? Some Tensions in Australian–American Literary Relations, Louise Poland , Ivor Indyk , 2010 single work criticism

'This chapter focuses on the period from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s, a watershed period in Australia-US literary relations, which saw the publication in the US of Australian novelists Peter Carey, David Malouf, Jessica Anderson, Thea Astley, Elizabeth Jolley, Helen Garner, Tim Winton and Beverley Farmer among others, but which was also crossed by tensions and contradictions which led to confusion, disappointment, lost opportunities, and sometimes the outright rejection of important Australian authors and their books. Among these tensions, we look at three in particular: the promising but limited role played by the multinational publisher (in this case Penguin Books) offering Australian titles through its US affiliate (Viking Penguin); the intervention by literary agents in Australia - US literary publishing relations; and the difference in values between the two cultures, which served to hinder the appreciation of important works of Australian writing.' (p. 309)

(p. 309-322)
American Dreams and the University of Queensland Press, Deborah Jordan , 2010 single work criticism

'The University of Queensland Press was transformed from a merely scholarly into a creative independent Australian publisher partly through the agency of the American publisher Frank Thompson. In the explosive days of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and with Australians' complex fascination with United States, Thompson embodied the democratic challenge to the old British dominated regime on campus and in publishing circles. This paper will explore pivotal books published by UQP notably Thomas Shapcott's Contemporary American and Australian Poetry in 1976; UQP's development of the American market with the distribution of UQP literary fiction and the establishment of an American office; and co-publishing with American publishers and editing Australian books for American readers in a different hemisphere. Thompson's own assessment of his successes and failures will be contextualised in terms of political developments and those issues long associated with Australian literature - environmental representation and expatriatism.' (Author's abstract)

(p. 323-338)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Works about this Work

Untitled Ian Tyrrell , 2011 single work review
— Appears in: Journal of Australian Studies , September vol. 35 no. 3 2011; (p. 416-417)

— Review of Reading Across the Pacific : Australia-United States Intellectual Histories 2010 anthology criticism
Reading Across the Pacific : Introduction Robert Dixon , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Reading Across the Pacific : Australia-United States Intellectual Histories 2010; (p. xiii-xxi)
'Reading Across the Pacific is the first book-length study of literary and cultural engagement between the United States and Australia from a contemporary interdisciplinary perspective. Previous studies have been specialised, un- or under-theorised, and spoke to a narrowly bilateral context. Reading Across the Pacific, by contrast, is fully enmeshed in contemporary methodological debates: it does not just link the United States and Australia in one-to-one dialogue but brings in the ambient circumstances of the Pacific Rim and Oceania. Importantly, it participates in a clearly identified 'transnational turn' in the study of both American and Australian literatures to which it is designed as both a response and a provocation.' (p. xiii)
Untitled Ian Tyrrell , 2011 single work review
— Appears in: Journal of Australian Studies , September vol. 35 no. 3 2011; (p. 416-417)

— Review of Reading Across the Pacific : Australia-United States Intellectual Histories 2010 anthology criticism
Reading Across the Pacific : Introduction Robert Dixon , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Reading Across the Pacific : Australia-United States Intellectual Histories 2010; (p. xiii-xxi)
'Reading Across the Pacific is the first book-length study of literary and cultural engagement between the United States and Australia from a contemporary interdisciplinary perspective. Previous studies have been specialised, un- or under-theorised, and spoke to a narrowly bilateral context. Reading Across the Pacific, by contrast, is fully enmeshed in contemporary methodological debates: it does not just link the United States and Australia in one-to-one dialogue but brings in the ambient circumstances of the Pacific Rim and Oceania. Importantly, it participates in a clearly identified 'transnational turn' in the study of both American and Australian literatures to which it is designed as both a response and a provocation.' (p. xiii)
Last amended 29 Aug 2011 10:46:51
Newspapers:
    Powered by Trove
    X