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'The development of the Australian Curriculum has reignited a debate about the role of Australian literature in the contexts of curricula and classrooms. A review of the mechanisms for promoting Australian literature including literary prizes, databases, surveys and texts included for study in senior English classrooms in New South Wales and Victoria provides a background for considering the purpose of Australian texts and the role of literature teachers in shaping students' engagement with literature.' (Author's introduction)
'The Great War has been represented in Australian curricula since 1914, in texts with tones ranging from bellicose patriotism to idealistic pacifism. Australian curricula have included war literature as one way of transmitting cultural values, values that continue to evolve as successive generations relate differently to war and peace. Changes in ethical perspectives and popular feeling have guided text selection and pedagogy, so that texts which were once accepted as foundational to Australian society seem, at later times, to document civilisation's ruin.
In recent years, overseas texts have been preferred above Australian examples as mediators of the Great War, an event still held by many to be of essential importance to Australia. This paper first considers arguments for including Great War texts on the national curriculum, exploring what war literature can, and cannot, be expected to bring to the program. Interrogating the purpose/s of war literature in the curriculum and the ways in which the texts may be used to meet such expectations, the paper then discusses styles of war texts and investigates whether there is a case for including more texts by Australian authors.' (Author's abstract)
'Michael Dodson has commented that the 'repossession of our past is the repossession of ourselves' - yet since the 1980s, the translation of such imperatives within literary and historical colonial archival research has been tightly circumscribed by controversial, often agonistic identity debates. Reflection on the broad emotional imprimateurs guiding intellectual and creative research activity have been muted, variously repressed or backgrounded, voided by (white) shame or tact, and often deferred to Indigenous commentators for framing commentaries. Vehement stoushes between the disciplinary cousins of history and literature have also erupted as part of recent local history and culture wars debates. With hindsight, these seemingly 'emotional' yet supra-rational debates, focusing righteously on entitlement and access to colonial archives, seem to have lacked so-called emotional intelligence and (inter)disciplinary imagination. The arguments of the protagonists have now have been 'tidied away', leaving a subsidence of unscholarly embarrassment in their wake.
I aim to show that despite the problematic inheritance of these public debates, many historians, novelists and cultural critics (Elspeth Probyn, the late Greg Dening, Kate Grenville, Kim Scott and others) have managed to rigorously contest and (re)present colonial archival material without repudiating their own emotional involvement with 'the Australian past' in order to maintain scholarly distance. They have understood, in Marcia Langton's phrase, that 'some of us have lived through it, are living through it. This is not an exercise in historiography alone, and therefore presents problems beyond that of traditional historiography.' My analysis of these writer's commentaries will be contextualised against Langton's idea of intercultural subjectivity, which emphasises a discursive intextuality that can be engaged with equally by black and white artists, critics and writers across the genres. Langton, Dening, Grenville, Scott and others will be shown as thinkers who lead the way in suggesting and/or demonstrating how postcolonial novels can be taught and made.' (Author's abstract)
'Australian poet John Tranter trained in all aspects of publishing, from hand-lettering to editing, from litho platemaking to screen printing, and developed an early familiarity with computers. The development of the Internet in the 1990s found him armed with a formidable array of skills. He published the free international Internet-only magazine Jacket single-handed in 1997. Jacket quickly grew to become the most widely read and highly respected literary magazine ever published from Australia. In late 2010 John Tranter gave it to the University of Pennsylvania, where it continues to flourish. This memoir traces John Tranter's publication of literary materials on the Internet including the technical and literary problems faced by Jacket, and outlines the many other projects that resulted in the Internet publication of over fifty thousand mostly Australian poems, articles, reviews, interviews and photographs.' (Editor's abstract)
'Under the rubric of a proposed symmetry between contemporary recognitions of nature in law and the "lawfulness" of representations of nature, this paper proposes a theoretical meeting between the "composition by field" poetics of the Black Mountain school of the United States, and an Aboriginal compositional ontology best described as a poetics of "Country". Known most prominently in the work of postwar American poets Robert Duncan and Charles Olson, "composition by field" defines a compositional ontos in which the proprioceptive apprehension of nature and the logos of speech are fused in a state of mythopoiesis. Similarly, "Country" presents an aesthetic ontology in which the cosmos is substantiated as a "lawful" poetic subject in which speech, mythos and nature are combined. The ontos of "composition by field" is symmetrical with the compositional ethos of Country, a compatibility that can be observed closely in their corporealisation of nature amidst cultural imperatives of aesthetic and custodial law/lore. In both, nature adheres to a logos of personality which is simultaneously legal and aesthetic, suggestive of an array of correspondences between a processual, muthologic compositional methodology, the performative and linguistic embodiment of Aboriginal songs and stories, and a poiesis that is connately local and extensively sustaining. As such, a relation between "composition by field" and "Country" constitutes a foundational opportunity in theorising potential correspondences between western and Indigenous modes of decolonised literary embodiment.' (Author's abstract)
'This paper investigates the use of collage, mimicry and hieroglyphics by the innovative Australian poet Chris Edwards in his latest book of poetry, People of Earth (Vagabond Press, 2011). With scissors in hand, Edwards goes hunting for Jacques Derrida's "non-phonetic functions" and "operative silences of alphabetic writing", those poetical score-marks that are neither "factual accident nor waste" (Derrida, 'The Pit and the Pyramid'), but rather, endlessly renewable resources. The collagist is a recycler and composter, and also a compositor - a filmic sculptor who tricks visual fragments into new entities. Edwards is a deft and seamless crafter, often producing grammatically flawless collages whose motion from scene to scene is subtle and kaleidoscopic. An appendix to People of Earth compiles hundreds of texts that are sources for Edwards' poems. They are a gentle invitation to detective work, but mostly, a museum of tools tended by a fastidious drafter. This paper will explore the radical materialism of Chris Edwards while invoking along the way the ghosts of Christopher Brennan, Charlie Chaplin, Stéphane Mallarmé and Charles Olson.
'In this paper I consider the ecological term 'biodiversity' as a metaphor within that of the more generally metaphorical term 'field', specifically in relation to Christopher Brennan's work the Musicopoematographoscope. The term 'field', in the literary context may not preclude, but does not suggest biodiversity: suggesting rather evenness, tamedness, industry, fighting or sport - and settledness. I use the ecological figure of biodiversity not as an indication of a relation between writing (poetry) and natural environments per se, but to signal an attention to survival. A literature that can be compared to a biodiverse ecosystem - rather than a field - suggests the wholeness that health is derived from. I draw on and critique the work of American poet Charles Olson and English critic Jonathan Bate.' (Author's abstract)
'Prolific author and inveterate traveller Mary Gaunt (1865-1942) embodied and enacted her ideal of the enterprising white colonial woman in her three texts on Jamaica, including two works of non-fiction: a history titled Where the Twain Meet (1920); a travel book titled In Jamaica: Reflections (1932), and one historical novel titled Harmony (1933). The white colonial subject she celebrates is, in her view, best equipped to exploit the unrealised potential of Jamaica because of her particular mobility through the metropole and across the dominions of empire. This mobility also situates the colonial in time as a resolutely modern subject, one who is not locked in the past but attuned to the present and the future.
This paper argues, however, that the colonial's seeming capacity to align the spaces and times of modernity is arrested in Gaunt's writing by her performance of disregulated affect and a failure of sympathy. Her writing explicitly constructs a writing subject caught between the conventions of literary transport and the actual transport of her travels in ways that position her as too close to, or too distant from, people and place. This paper will first identify a range of these misalignments in Gaunt's work and then consider them as indicative of a dilemma at the heart of modern fiction, and of the reading subject of modernity more generally.' (Author's abstract)
'This article looks at the relatively short and colourful life of Sydney's Cosmos: An Illustrated Australian Magazine—one of the many ephemeral literary magazines that flourished briefly during the colonial era in Australia, and which have been largely forgotten today. From its beginning in September 1894, Cosmos published poetry, short fiction, book reviews, and literary criticism, aiming to offer readers something 'that was purely Australian' as well as providing an important venue for the writings of popular colonial authors such as Louise Mack, Edward Dyson, Ernest Favenc, and many others. This article argues the Cosmos magazine was deeply invested in the development of a distinctively Australian literary culture and that an important focus for accomplishing this was its exploration of metropolitan modes of colonial femininity.'
'The current neoliberal climate has seen important changes to what is being taught to Humanities students in the Higher Education sector. With the emphasis increasingly on courses that make money and prepare students for vocations what is being lost is the kinds of reading practices and reading experiences that make for thoughtful caring citizens.
Both the writer Margaret Atwood in her novel Oryx and Crake and the philosopher Martha Nussbaum in her Not For Profit: Why Democracy needs the Humanities have reflected on the ways in which the study of literature and the arts contribute to the notion of a caring society and thoughtful global citizens. Nussbaum in particular has emphasised the importance of reading and teaching literature that values the finer emotions- those that cultivate justice, compassion, and empathy, seeing in these the pathway to what she calls human flourishing. I argue that of Australian literary texts that aim for something similar, a stand out example is Eleanor Dark's Prelude to Christopher. Although written more than eighty years ago during a different phase of capitalism, the novel's passionate critique of eugenics renders it surprisingly relevant to today's educational situation.' (Author's abstract)
'Christina Stead's For Love Alone is an iconic text in Australian literary studies, but until now, few critics have addressed the novel's treatment of colonialism and race relations. Feminist critics have played an important role in preserving Stead's reputation, and for this reason, most critical discussions of For Love Alone focus on its gender politics. This criticism generally regards Stead's protagonist, Teresa Hawkins, as a feminist heroine engaged in a struggle against patriarchy. This ideological approach is a valuable corrective to more autobiographical readings of For Love Alone, which treat the novel, rather reductively, as an account of Stead's personal experiences or as an expression of her 'private mythology'. Yet I argue that in taking Teresa for a heroine, feminist scholars do not sufficiently recognise Teresa's status as an object of satire. In this article, I highlight Stead's sharply satiric portrayal of Teresa as a narcissist, whose voyage of discovery ironically highlights her inability to learn or to change. I contend that Teresa's journey to London reveals her affinities with the regressive, racist ideology of her father and her love object, Jonathan Crow. In her self-appointed role as an 'Australian Ulysses', Teresa demonstrates the links between Australian nationalism, imperialism and racist ideologies. Without disputing the importance of feminist themes in the novel, I propose a new reading of For love alone as a complex work of postcolonial satire.' (Author's abstract)
'This paper considers a recent spate of novels that deal in various ways with the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. These include Peter Corris's Wet Graves; Alex Miller's Conditions of Faith; Vicki Hastrich's ; and Sarah Hay's The Body in the Clouds. It is argued that these novels, written so long after the bridge's completion, are each grappling with the transformation of this icon of Australian modernism into the significant component in the nation's foremost experience of postmodern urban space - Circular Quay.' (Author's abstract)
'Much has been made of the purported insignificance of the postscript that appends JM Coetzee's eleventh novel, Elizabeth Costello. In J.M. Coetzee's Austerities, Graham Bradshaw writes that 'Apart from some searching pages in an essay by Lucy Graham on "Textual Transvestism", Coetzee's "Letter" has barely been discussed, and when it became the "Postscript" to Elizabeth Costello one reviewer complained that it had no connection with that work'. In "The Subject and Infinity", the French philosopher Alain Badiou re-evaluates Jacques Lacan's notorious formulas of sexuation to argue that 'Lacan only summons the infinite to dismiss it.' What Badiou wants to do then is give 'full recognition to the existence of the infinite' and to insist that 'the infinite of inaccessibility is not adequate. What must be discovered is the affirmative force of the infinite, which is always lodged in some axiomatic decision' (227). This essay argues that the reader needs to axiomatically decide to further investigate the seemingly nonsensical inclusion of the Postscript in Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello, in order to encounter this affirmative force.' (Author's abstract)