'The nineteenth century discourse of extinction - a consensus of thought primarily based upon the assumption that 'savage' races would be displaced by the arrival of European civilisation - provided the intellectual foundation for policies which resulted in Aboriginal dispossession, internment, and death in Tasmania. For a long time, the Aboriginal Tasmanians were thought to have been annihilated. However, this claim is now understood to be fanciful. Aboriginality is no longer defined as a racial category but rather as an identity that has its basis in community. Nevertheless, extinction discourse continues to shape the features of modern literature about Tasmania.
'The first chapter of this dissertation will examine how extinction discourse was imagined in the nineteenth century and will trace the parallels that contemporary fiction about contact history shares with it. The novels examined include Doctor Wooreddy's Prescription for Enduring the Ending of the World by Mudrooroo, The Savage Crows by Robert Drewe, Manganinnie by Beth Roberts, and Wanting by Richard Flanagan. The extinctionist elements in these novels include a tendency to euglogise about the 'lost race' and a reliance on the trope of the last man or woman.
'The second chapter of the dissertation will examine novels that attempt to construct a representation of Aboriginality without reference to extinction. These texts subvert and ironise extinction discourse as a way of breaking the discursive continuities with colonialism and establishing a more nuanced view of Aboriginal identity in a post-colonial context. Novels analysed here include Drift by Brian Castro, Elysium by Robert Edric, and English Passengers by Matthew Kneale. However, in attempting to arrive at new understandings about Aboriginality, non-Aboriginal authors are hindered by the epistemological difficulties of knowing and representing the Other. In particular, they seem unable to extricate themselves from the binaries of colonialism.' (Trove)