Led by Dr Jessica White, Writing Disability in Australia aggregates writing on disability in AustLit into a searchable index, with the aim of drawing attention to the ways in which Australian writers have represented disability. It illuminates the structures and assumptions of ableism, highlights the significant and imaginative achievements of writers with disability, and draws attention to the resourceful ways in which people with disability navigate their everyday lives.
Writing with Disability was inaugurated in 2018, launched in 2019, and is still being added to.
Header image: Ramp stairs at Hammersmith & Fulham College, by Bill Smith, 8 August 2018. Unmodified. CC BY 2.0. Source.
A research project launched in 2018 and still under development, Waves of Fiction is led by Dr Rebecca Olive from the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, University of Queensland. Waves of Fiction: Surfing in Australian Literature takes as its starting point the contention that despite the fame of Tim Winton and Puberty Blues, there is a much longer history of surf writing that includes diverse genres, forms, characters, and authors. Yet we know little about that collective body of work, nor what new things it can tell us about surfing, which, although so prolific in our coastal lives, remains little understood, even by surfers themselves.
(Image credit: Green wave, photograph by Vladimir Kudinov. CC0. Reproduced via Pexels.)
Established in 2011, 'Speculations' is a substantial study of Australian popular fiction. Under the leadership of Professor Van Ikin, Dr Toni Johnson-Woods, and Dr Kim Wilkins, AustLit researchers undertook sustained work in enhancing records for science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers and works, including film and television.
Where popular fiction has often been overlooked in traditional bibliographies, 'Speculations' helps expand understandings of how, when, where, and in what quantities Australian authors are writing speculative fiction.
The gathering of this content is still ongoing.
(Image credit: details of illustration from Norma K. Hemming's 'Amazons of the Asteroids', originally published in Thrills Incorporated.)
'World War I in Australian Literary Culture' is a specialist AustLit research project, initiated in 2012 and led by researcher Robert Thomson, that expands and refines the database's coverage of the ways in which the Great War is represented in all forms of storytelling.
As one of the first research projects to be designed on AustLit's new platform, 'World War I in Australian Literary Culture' is supported by richly interactive online exhibitions, which draw out aspects of the war years from professional digger-entertainers to women's magazine fiction, Indigenous soldiers to wartime songs.
(Image credit: George Washington Lambert's 'Anzac, the landing 1915', c.1920-1922. Reproduced via Wikimedia Commons.)
Researched, compiled, and written by Dr Catriona Mills and Geoffrey Hondroudakis, Beyond Goggles and Corsets: Australian Steampunk is a unique AustLit research project: a long, richly illustrated essay accompanied by curated reading lists, Beyond Goggles and Corsets identifies and describes Australian-written steampunk works, and sets out the history and thematic concerns of Australian steampunk from the earliest proto-steampunk works to the present day.
(Image credit: Triptych of separate portraits of, from left to right, Amy Johnson, Bell Mullins, and Bessie Coleman. See full image credit.)
Established by Dr Kim Wilkins in 2009, Australian Popular Medievalism demonstrates how strongly Australian popular fiction engages with the medieval, tracing more than 250 popular adult novels, published between 1995 and 2010, that feature Europe in the Middle Ages either as an actual setting or as a source for adapting images and ideas.
From the accompanying peer-reviewed essay:
It is interesting to compare Fradenburg's observations about the Middle Ages with Ken Gelder's about the sets of differences with which literary culture distinguishes literary fiction from popular fiction. Literary fiction is 'complex', popular fiction is 'simple'; literary fiction is about 'real life', popular fiction is 'fantasy'; literary fiction is 'cerebral', popular fiction is 'sensuous'; literary fiction is 'restrained', popular fiction is 'excessive' (19). Popular fiction, like the pre-modern, is irrational and curiously flat, compared to literary fiction which, like the modern, knows itself and can therefore produce objects of cultural value. By this comparison, popular fiction can actually be seen to share a privileged relationship with medievalism.
(Image credit: Edmund Leighton's 'The End of the Song' [Tristian and Isolde], 1902. Reproduced via Wikimedia Commons.)
Under the guidance of project leader Dr Toni Johnson-Woods, 'Pulp Fiction' mapped Australia's popular publishing industry over the twenty years between 1939 and 1959, creating and enhancing records for over 100 authors and cover artists and more then 2000 titles.
(Image credit: detail from the cover of Carter Brown's Walk Softly, Witch, reproduced courtesy of AustLit.)
The outcome of Dr Nicole Moore's Australian Research Council Discovery Project, 'Banned in Australia' presents the impact of censorship on reading in Australia between 1901 and 1973. Unlike most of AustLit's research projects, 'Banned in Australia' includes works from all over the world, including Australian authors published overseas, and sets out some 500 works whose import into Australia was banned during the first seventy years of the twentieth century.
'Banned in Australia' is a unique view of censorship and the movement of books into and out of Australia.
(Image: cropped section of the cover image for Penguin's anniversary edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover. Reproduced courtesy of Penguin's website.)
Drawing on and expanding a series of bibliographies going back as far 1973, 'Australian Multicultural Writers' provides biographical and bibliographical information about writers who identify with cultural heritages other than Anglo-Celtic.
As Professor Wenche Ommundsen notes in her accompanying essay:
In the context of an increasingly globalised world, multicultural literary traditions play important roles as mediators between local (or national) and global cultural forces. Multicultural Australian writing represents the global within the local; it responds to pressures and change within Australian society and culture, but is also, and increasingly, in tune with global developments such as rapid international communication and travel, postcolonial and diasporic literary traditions and transnational popular culture.
(Image credit: section from a 1765 de l'Isle globe, 'generous in its depiction of the Mississippi River and showing a fictional Northwest passage'. Reproduced from Wikimedia Commons.)
Parasols and Prosthetic Limbs : The World War I Magazine Fiction of Sumner Locke
Edited and compiled by Dr Catriona Mills
A collection of twelve short stories published by Sumner Locke in Australian newspapers and magazines during the early years of the war, these stories were republished on 18 October 2017, the centenary of Locke's death.
A small collection of biographical stories that capture the experience of growing up in Australia as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person. The authors range in age from young adults to older women and men but common to all of their experience is resilience and respect.
Header image: Glasshouse Mountains from Maleny Botanic Gardens, photograph by Andy Hay, December 2015, CC2.0 (via Flickr).
Established in 2016 with funding from the Ian Potter Foundation, the Australian Drama Archive aims to digitise and research a collection of Australian plays from the twentieth century up to the 1960s and bring them to life again through publication, production, and new research.
Header image: Print by artist Leon Bakst (cropped) (1927), via the New York Public Library Digital Collections.
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