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Postcolonial Australian Literature (6AAEC001)
Semester 2 / 2009

Texts

The Saga of Captain Cook!$!Danaiyairri, Hobbles!$! !$!!$!1982
y separately published work icon Benang : From the Heart Kim Scott , Fremantle : Fremantle Press , 1999 Z135862 1999 single work novel (taught in 31 units) 'Oceanic in its rhythms and understanding, brilliant in its use of language and image, moving in its largeness of spirit, compelling in its narrative scope and style, Benang is a novel of celebration and lament, of beginning and return, of obliteration and recovery, of silencing and of powerful utterance. Both tentative and daring, it speaks to the present and a possible future through stories, dreams, rhythms, songs, images and documents mobilised from the incompletely acknowledged and still dynamic past.' (Publisher's website)
y separately published work icon The Secret River Kate Grenville , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2005 Z1194031 2005 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 69 units)

'In 1806 William Thornhill, a man of quick temper and deep feelings, is transported from the slums of London to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. With his wife Sal and their children he arrives in a harsh land he cannot understand.

'But the colony can turn a convict into a free man. Eight years later Thornhill sails up the Hawkesbury to claim a hundred acres for himself.

'Aboriginal people already live on that river. And other recent arrivals - Thomas Blackwood, Smasher Sullivan and Mrs Herring - are finding their own ways to respond to them.

'Thornhill, a man neither better nor worse than most, soon has to make the most difficult choice of his life.

'Inspired by research into her own family history, Kate Grenville vividly creates the reality of settler life, its longings, dangers and dilemmas. The Secret River is a brilliantly written book, a groundbreaking story about identity, belonging and ownership.' (From the publisher's website.)

y separately published work icon Carpentaria Alexis Wright , Artarmon : Giramondo Publishing , 2006 Z1184902 2006 single work novel (taught in 47 units) Carpentaria's portrait of life in the precariously settled coastal town of Desperance centres on the powerful Phantom family, whose members are the leaders of the Pricklebush people, and their battles with old Joseph Midnight's tearaway Eastend mob on the one hand, and the white officials of Uptown and the neighbouring Gurfurrit mine on the other. Wright's storytelling is operatic and surreal: a blend of myth and scripture, politics and farce. The novel is populated by extraordinary characters - Elias Smith the outcast saviour, the religious zealot Mozzie Fishman, leader of the holy Aboriginal pilgrimage, the murderous mayor Stan Bruiser, the ever-vigilant Captain Nicoli Finn, the activist and prodigal son Will Phantom, and above all, Angel Day the queen of the rubbish-dump, and her sea-faring husband Normal Phantom, the fish-embalming king of time - figures that stand like giants in this storm-swept world. (Backcover)
y separately published work icon The Dreamers Jack Davis , Paddington : Currency Press , 1996 Z450251 1982 single work drama (taught in 18 units)

'With humane irony the Western Australian poet, Jack Davis gives a painful insight into the process of colonisation and the transformation of his people.'

'The Dreamers is the story of a country-town family and old Uncle Worru, who in his dying days, recedes from urban hopelessness to the life and language of the Nyoongah spirit which in him has survived 'civilisation'.' (Currency Press website)

y separately published work icon Riders in the Chariot Patrick White , New York (City) : Viking , 1961 Z470801 1961 single work novel (taught in 10 units)

'Patrick White's brilliant 1961 novel, set in an Australian suburb, intertwines four deeply different lives. An Aborigine artist, a Holocaust survivor, a beatific washerwoman, and a childlike heiress are each blessed—and stricken—with visionary experiences that may or may not allow them to transcend the machinations of their fellow men. Tender and lacerating, pure and profane, subtle and sweeping, Riders in the Chariot is one of the Nobel Prize winner's boldest books. (Publication summary)

y separately published work icon True History of the Kelly Gang Peter Carey , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2000 Z668312 2000 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 29 units)

'"I lost my own father at 12 yr. of age and know what it is to be raised on lies and silences my dear daughter you are presently too young to understand a word I write but this history is for you and will contain no single lie may I burn in Hell if I speak false."

'In TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG, the legendary Ned Kelly speaks for himself, scribbling his narrative on errant scraps of paper in semi-literate but magically descriptive prose as he flees from the police. To his pursuers, Kelly is nothing but a monstrous criminal, a thief and a murderer. To his own people, the lowly class of ordinary Australians, the bushranger is a hero, defying the authority of the English to direct their lives. Indentured by his bootlegger mother to a famous horse thief (who was also her lover), Ned saw his first prison cell at 15 and by the age of 26 had become the most wanted man in the wild colony of Victoria, taking over whole towns and defying the law until he was finally captured and hanged. Here is a classic outlaw tale, made alive by the skill of a great novelist.' (From the publisher's website.)

y separately published work icon Short Stories in Prose and Verse Henry Lawson , Sydney : Louisa Lawson , 1894 Z1214348 1894 selected work poetry prose short story (taught in 2 units)
y separately published work icon My Place Sally Morgan , Fremantle : Fremantle Press , 1987 Z384564 1987 single work autobiography (taught in 30 units)

'In 1982, Sally Morgan travelled back to her grandmother's birthplace. What started as a tentative search for information about her family, turned into an overwhelming emotional and spiritual pilgrimage. My Place is a moving account of a search for truth into which a whole family is gradually drawn, finally freeing the tongues of the author's mother and grandmother, allowing them to tell their own stories.' Source: Publisher's blurb.

y separately published work icon Sorry Gail Jones , Milsons Point : Vintage Books , 2007 Z1380261 2007 single work novel (taught in 9 units)

'In the remote outback of Western Australia during World War II, English anthropologist Nicholas Keene and his wife, Stella, raise a lonely child, Perdita. Her upbringing is far from ordinary: in a shack in the wilderness, with a distant father burying himself in books and an unstable mother whose knowledge of Shakespeare forms the backbone of the girl's limited education.

'Emotionally adrift, Perdita becomes friends with a deaf and mute boy, Billy, and an Aboriginal girl, Mary. Perdita and Mary come to call one another sister and to share a very special bond. They are content with life in this remote corner of the globe, until a terrible event lays waste to their lives.' (Publisher's blurb)

y separately published work icon Subhuman Redneck Poems Les Murray , Potts Point : Duffy and Snellgrove , 1996 Z175001 1996 selected work poetry (taught in 1 units)

Description

This module introduces some major themes of Australian literature, examining a variety of literary works produced from the late-nineteenth century to the present day. These works will be read in the context of the British invasion of Aboriginal land and its aftermath, exploring the complex and changing relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures in Australia. Areas of focus include the representation of Aboriginality in non-Aboriginal writing, Indigenous writing in English, and the invention of Australian history.

General aims:

This module will introduce students to a sample of texts from Australian literature with an emphasis on twentieth century works, and those by or about Indigenous peoples of Australia. It will: develop skills of reading, writing and analysis; encourage debate about current theoretical discourse, particularly that of postcolonial literary studies; foster awareness of the politics of representation in Australian writing.

Assessment

One 4,000 word essay (100% of final mark)

Supplementary Texts

Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin, The Empire Writes Back

Bennett & Strauss (eds), The Oxford Literary History of Australia

Hergenhan, ed., The Penguin New Literary History of Australia

Kleinart and Neale, eds, The Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture

Webby (ed), The Cambridge Companion to Australian Literature

Other Details

Levels: Undergraduate
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