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y separately published work icon JASAL periodical issue   peer reviewed assertion
Alternative title: Recurrent Preoccupations - General Issue
Issue Details: First known date: 2018... vol. 3 no. 18 2018 of JASAL est. 2002 JASAL
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'This last issue of JASAL for 2018 brings together a diverse body of essays on Australian literature and critical debates. Although unanticipated, there are numerous resonances between the essays, whether in the critical approaches adopted by a critic or in the choice of texts selected.' (Tony Simoes da Silva, Recurrent Preoccupations, introduction)


  • Includes a review of Antipodal Shakespeare: Remembering and Forgetting in Britain, Australia and New Zealand, 1916-2016 by Jane Woollard


* Contents derived from the 2018 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Beverley Farmer 1941-2018 Archetypes and Fluency in This Water : Five Tales, Lyn Jacobs , single work criticism

'It is not unusual to encounter feminist re-readings of traditional stories, in the manner of speaking back via parodic challenges to gender stereotypes, but it is rare to find a writer re-dressing the skeletal bones of narrative to offer nuanced and sensual texts which subvert but also re-animate tales. And that is what is achieved in Beverley Farmer’s This Water:Five Tales (2017). After the contemplative essays of The Bone House (2005), with their stark black and white imagery and emphasis on dormancy and stone, Farmer returns to fiction where inherited stories are re-shaped to challenge the confines of precedent. This new publication includes a first-person story that illustrates the formative effects of word and image, reinterpretations of two Celtic tales, one Greek legend and a macabre European fairy-tale. Each story is discrete but they all reconsider masculist perceptions of women through the ages. This paper considers the re-framing and interrogation of the gendered designs of oral and folkloric traditions in This Water: Five Tales, focussing on ‘water’as a unifying theme and the fluency of Farmer’s poetic prose.'  (Publication abstract)

Barbecued Sunrise, Stephanie Guest , single work criticism

'This essay argues for an expanded definition of the category of ‘Australian Literature’ by analysing work at its fringes: experimental literary translation by Australian, English-language, writers. While considerable attention has been given to translation as a mode of literary circulation and as a metaphor for an ethics of cross-cultural exchange, there has been little work done by proponents of World Literature on the linguistic problem of what happens in translation. By contrast, this essay develops a mode of close reading, via theories of transnationalism and translation, applied to two playful translations of Stéphane Mallarmé’s ‘Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard’ (1895) by Christopher Brennan (1897) and Chris Edwards (2005).' (Publication abstract)

“One Should Never Go Back” : History Writing and Historical Justice in Thea Astley’s A Kindness Cup, Ellen Smith , single work

'This essay situates Thea Astley’s 1975 novel of the Queensland frontier, A Kindness Cup in relation to the rise of projects of postcolonial revisionist history writing in Australia. I argue that we can read Astley’s novel as reflecting upon the political and affective uses and limits of history writing for the redress of violence at a moment when history writing was undergoing major shifts in Australia. Much Australian left wing revisionist history embodies the optimistic liberal political belief that uncovering and representing the unacknowledged violence of the frontier might act to redress violence and injustice. Astley’s novel, by contrast, offers a critique of what I call  ‘the politics of exposure’—that is a politics that works from the assumption that violence, inequality and injustice are mostly the result of ignorance and that therefore better knowledge will help prevent them. The novel asks what fantasies and blind spots inhabit an uncritical investment in the politics of the exposé and suggests some of the ways that the desire to expose violence might itself be a form of violence.' (Publication abstract)

Magical Realism and the Transcultural Politics of Irony : Alexis Wright’s Plains of Promise, Maria Takolander , single work criticism

'Magical realist fiction has been repeatedly explained in terms of territorialised projects of cultural renewal and in ways that rhetorically exceed its status as literature. Such readings, however, have overlooked the transcultural nature of the literary form and the ways in which it is always radicalised by the dialogical play of irony. The neglect of irony can be understood in relation to a traditional suspicion of the aesthetic within postcolonial discourse, according to which the aesthetic is conceptualised as inimical to the political concerns of postcolonial texts. However, following Bill Ashcroft’s reassessment of the aesthetic in postcolonial contexts, and engaging Gerald Vizenor’s theorisation of irony’s valence in postcolonial magical realist fiction, this paper reconfigures the hermeneutic tradition associated with magical realism in order to redeem its aesthetic and political vitality. Focusing on the magical realist novel Plains of Promise (1997) by the Australian Aboriginal (Waanyi) writer Alexis Wright, this paper reveals the aesthetic strategy of irony as central to the magical realist text’s subversion of colonial discourse and its dynamic vision of Aboriginal sovereignty.'  (Publication abstract)

Contested Land : Country and Terra Nullius in Plains of Promise and Benang : From the Heart, Jane Gleeson-White , single work criticism

'The Mabo decision of 1992 made questions about the definition of land in Australia and its relation to humans newly significant by overturning the British legal fiction of this continent as ‘terra nullius’ (empty land) and acknowledged for the first time in Anglo-Australian law the validity of Aboriginal land claims. Alexis Wright’s Plains of Promise (1997) and Kim Scott’s Benang (1999) were written in the wake of this landmark decision. Both tell stories of children of the Stolen Generations and their ancient ties to their ancestral land, despite their severance from it. Critical scholarship on these novels has focused primarily on their human stories and been conducted in terms of postcolonial theory and discussions of magic realism. In this article I seek to complicate and expand these predominantly anthropocentric readings by drawing on ecocriticism to explore the central role of the non-human world in these novels. I argue they privilege an Indigenous understanding of two regions of the Australian continent as ‘country’ over their conception as terra nullius, a blank canvass available for colonisation and inscription by British property law and Christianity. The novels contest this concept of terra nullius by manifesting ‘country’: a vibrant, active land inextricably bound to its Indigenous people by ancient, enduring laws. They rewrite the continent as black land and suggest their protagonists’ inextricable, enduring ties to it.'  (Publication abstract)

The Endless Forms of Things : Harpur's Radicalism Revisited, Michael Falk , single work criticism

'Charles Harpur was the oustanding radical intellectual of early nineteenth-century New South Wales. His particular brand of spiritualised republicanism has long been of interest to scholars, but hitherto analysts of his politics have focussed mainly on the content of his opinions, rather than the form in which he expressed them. In this essay, I present a formalist analysis of Harpur's poetry, revealing how he structured his verse to express his radical convictions. His finest poems are inevitably perspectival and progressive. He was a pluralist who sought to represent reality from a range of perspectives; and he was an idealist who described objects in terms of their progressive growth toward higher forms. If we recognise these two elements of his poetics, we can come to a truer understanding of his politics and a fairer assessment of his achievement as a poet.' (Publication abstract)

More Than an Amanuensis : Ernestine Hill’s Contribution to The Passing of the Aborigines, Eleanor Hogan , Antonia Alexis , Hugh Craig , single work criticism

'The precise nature of the authorship of Daisy Bates’ controversial bestseller, The Passing of the Aborigines, has been contested since its publication in 1938. Bates was, by then, experiencing health limitations that would have prevented her from producing a coherent, major literary work without significant physical, emotional, financial and editorial support. Ernestine Hill, who provided much of the book’s editorial heavy lifting and writing, later claimed she should have been recognised as co-author, which Bates refuted. The conflicting perceptions and accounts of this authorial collaboration leave some tantalising threads to tease out. To what extent, if any, did Bates contribute to the writing process? Did Hill make as substantial a contribution to the writing and crafting of the book as she claimed?

'To investigate these issues, the authors turned to computational stylistics techniques to develop profiles for the authorial signatures of Daisy Bates and Ernestine Hill, in an attempt to assess their respective contributions in compositing and crafting The Passing of the Aborigines. The study showed that Hill, as Bates’ ghostwriter, created a new hybrid text type that blended her own more formal, professional journalistic style and Bates’ personal, anecdotal one. As far as we know this is the first time a computational stylistics analysis has attempted to assess the extent to which a ghostwriter’s own stylistic habits — reflected in the relative frequency of their usage of preferred sets of function words — are transferred to the text in question.'  (Publication abstract)

Elizabeth McMahon's Islands, Identity and the Literary Imagination, Matthew Goldie , single work review
— Review of Islands, Identity and the Literary Imagination Elizabeth McMahon , 2016 multi chapter work criticism ;

'Islands, Identity and the Literary Imagination examines insularity primarily in Australian literature but also in literary theory, in Caribbean literature, and to a lesser extent in British, Indian, and American writing. By literature here is meant a broad range of genres: poetry, plays, novels, and short stories as well as nonfiction pamphlets, histories, and more. Some of the literature and history is formal and canonical, and some is popular and ephemeral. Elizabeth McMahon displays an encyclopedic knowledge of the many references to islands, shipwrecks, and utopias in the works she studies and in the secondary literature on them. The thesis is that Australia is insular yet also continental, a ‘contradiction and inversion’ and so ‘a space that contain an otherness within itself… endlessly baffling and, hence, philosophical and creative’ (3). As an ‘island continent,’ it has been seen as permeable yet bounded, isolated from the world yet connected to it, non-modern yet futuristic, one entity yet an array of islands, ‘a perfect object of control’ but escaping encapsulation, manmade and natural, and a place of ‘escape and luxury’ while also a prison and a trap (4–5). Islands, Identity and the Literary Imagination scrutinizes these conjunctions in the many varied texts it addresses.'  (Publication abstract)

Liliana Zavaglia's White Apology and Apologia : Australian Novels of Reconciliation, Maggie Nolan , single work review
— Review of White Apology and Apologia : Australian Novels of Reconciliation Liliana Zavaglia , 2016 multi chapter work criticism ;

'Liliana Zavaglia’s White Apology and Apologia: Australian Novels of Reconciliation uses the trope of the double movement of apology and apologia to analyse a number of recent, culturally significant novels of reconciliation—determined interventions of literary activism—by white (liberal) Australian authors: two of Alex Miller’s novels—Journey to the Stone Country (2002) and Landscape of Farewell (2002); Andrew McGahan’s The White Earth (2004); Kate Grenville’s The Secret River (2005); and Gail Jones’ Sorry (2007). Zavaglia’s analysis is book-ended by two non-literary texts, the Mabo Judgement of 1992 and Kevin Rudd’s 2008 ‘Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008,’ representing the two key events that flank the publication of these novels.' (Introduction)

Michael Ackland's Christina Stead and the Socialist Heritage, Anne Pender , single work review
— Review of Christina Stead and the Socialist Heritage Michael Ackland , 2016 multi chapter work criticism ;

'I once boldly suggested to film director Bruce Beresford that he might consider making a film based on Christina Stead’s last, and masterful novel, I’m Dying Laughing. He read it and later gave me to understand that he thought it would be rather difficult to adapt for film because it revolved around talking and did not offer a great deal of action. He was right of course. So many of Stead’s novels are focussed on characters talking, arguing, deliberating and pontificating, and their topics are frequently complex, referential and highly political. They therefore require a lot from their reader.'  (Introduction)

Geoff Rodoreda's The Mabo Turn in Australian Fiction, Travis Franks , single work review
— Review of The Mabo Turn in Australian Fiction Geoff Rodoreda , 2017 multi chapter work criticism ;

'Geoff Rodoreda earned his PhD from the University of Stuttgart, Germany, where he is now a lecturer in the English literature department. His first book, The Mabo Turn in Australian Fiction, is the result of Rodoreda’s doctoral project, with portions of some chapters having appeared in journals and anthologies published in Australia and Germany. Prior to his academic pursuits, Rodoreda worked in Adelaide and Darwin as a journalist for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.'  (Introduction)

Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver, Colonial Australian Fiction : Character Types, Social Formations and the Colonial Economy, Robyn Greaves , single work review

'Colonial Australian Fiction: Character Types, Social Formations and the Colonial Economy (2017), by Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver, is published within the Sydney University Press’ Sydney Studies in Australian Literature series, which aims to reinvigorate the study of Australian literature both locally and internationally. Gelder and Weaver combine their expertise in Australian literary studies to produce a rich study of character types in colonial Australian fiction, including how these types evolve and mutate over time and reveal what was taking place in colonial Australian society, especially in terms of structures of power, influence, and the economic landscape. This book adds to Gelder and Weaver’s already significant contribution to reviving interest in the rich archive of colonial Australian fiction and what it reveals about Australia’s history and continually evolving sense of national and cultural identity.'  (Publication abstract)

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Last amended 3 Apr 2019 11:32:09