AustLit logo
Issue Details: First known date: 2012... 2012 'I Don't Wanna Live in This Place' : The 'Australian Cultural Cringe' in Subtopia and The River Ophelia
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

'This article explores representations of the 'Australian cultural cringe' in A.L. McCann's Subtopia (2005) and Justine Ettler's The River Ophelia (1995). The protagonists of these novels express the kind of anti-Australian sentiments that were described by A.A. Phillips in his famous 1950 essay. The antipathy these protagonists feel towards Australia manifests itself in various forms of abjection.

I argue that the most striking aspect of these novels is the fact they have been published at a historical moment in which the whole notion of an 'Australian cultural cringe' seems to have become obsolete. My readings of these texts are energised by a number of questions. These include, do Subtopia and The River Ophelia uncritically portray Australia as crude and parochial? Or is something altogether more complex happening in these novels? What do these novels say about the relationship between national identity, place and the body?

In pursuing the above questions, I will bring to light important and provocative aspects of these two texts that have been overlooked or misread by critics.' (Author's abstract)


  • Epigraph:
    Heaven must be there
    Well, it's just got to be there
    I've never, ever seen Eden
    I don't wanna live in this place


    Is Australian identity always and peculiarly constituted by dreams of elsewhere? (McCredden 13)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon JASAL Philosophy, Canonicity, Reading vol. 12 no. 3 2012 Z1933957 2012 periodical issue 2012
Last amended 18 Apr 2013 14:15:31 'I Don't Wanna Live in This Place' : The 'Australian Cultural Cringe' in Subtopia and The River Opheliasmall AustLit logo JASAL