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Australian Literature Honours B: Undisciplined Histories (ASLT4012)
Semester 1, Semester 2 / 2008

Texts

y separately published work icon Kayang and Me Kim Scott , Hazel Brown , Fremantle : Fremantle Press , 2005 6962661 2005 single work biography (taught in 1 units)

From the award-winning author of Benang, and his Aunty Hazel, comes this monumental history of the south coast Noongar people of Western Australia. Kayang - meaning, respectfully, Old Lady - was born in 1925. Through her candid voice comes the story of her people and her country, interwoven with traditional tales.

Award-winning novelist Kim Scott and his elder, Hazel Brown, have created a monumental family history of the Wilomin Noongar people. Kayang &​ Me is a powerful story of community and belonging, revealing the deep and enduring connections between family, country, culture and history that lie at the heart of Indigenous identity.' (Source: Publishers website)

y separately published work icon Birds of Passage Brian Castro , Sydney : Allen and Unwin , 1983 Z376037 1983 single work novel (taught in 1 units)

'Birds of Passage is the powerful and haunting story of Seamus O'Young, an Australian-born Chinese, on a collision course with the past.

'He reconstructs his past through the eyes of Shan, an ancestor who came to Australia in the 1880s. And, just as Shan was driven from the goldfields by depravity, racism and sheer greed; so Seamus finds himself, a century later, fighting for his own life and sanity.'

Source: Goodreads.

y separately published work icon Gould's Book of Fish : A Novel in Twelve Fish Richard Flanagan , Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 2001 Z912793 2001 single work novel (taught in 4 units) 'Once upon a time that was called 1828, before all the living things on the land and the fishes in the sea were destroyed, there was a man named William Buelow Gould, a convict in Van Dieman's Land who fell in love with a black woman and discovered too late that to love is not safe. Silly Billy Gould, invader of Australia, liar, murderer, forger, fantasist, condemned to live in the most brutal penal colony in the British Empire, and there ordered to paint a book of fish. Once upon a time, miraculous things happened'. (Source: Trove)
y separately published work icon Searching for the Secret River Kate Grenville , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2006 Z1293134 2006 single work criticism (taught in 4 units)

'Searching for the Secret River is the extraordinary story of how Kate Grenville came to write her award-winning novel, [The Secret River].

'It all begins with her ancestor Solomon Wiseman, transported to New South Wales for the term of his natural life, who later became a wealthy man and built his colonial mansion on the Hawkesbury. Increasingly obsessed with his story, Grenville pursues him from Sydney to London and back, and then up the Hawkesbury itself. Slowly she begins to realise she must write about him, and begins to discover what kind of book she will write. Grenville opens the door and invites the reader into her writing room, and tells us about how this novel was formed, the research she did, the false starts she made and the frustrations she experienced.' (Publisher's blurb)

y separately published work icon The White Earth Andrew McGahan , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2004 Z1113518 2004 single work novel (taught in 14 units)

'His father dead by fire and his mother plagued by demons of her own, William is cast upon the charity of his unknown uncle - an embittered old man encamped in the ruins of a once great station homestead, Kuran House. It's a baffling and sinister new world for the boy, a place of decay and secret histories. His uncle is obsessed by a long life of decline and by a dark quest for revival, his mother is desperate for a wealth and security she has never known, and all their hopes it seems come to rest upon William's young shoulders. But as the past and present of Kuran Station unravel and merge together, the price of that inheritance may prove to be the downfall of them all. The White Earth is a haunting, disturbing and cautionary tale.' (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 Sixty Lights Gail Jones , London : Harvill Press , 2004 Z1136231 2004 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 15 units)

'Sixty Lights is the captivating chronicle of Lucy Strange, an independent girl growing up in the Victorian world. From her childhood in Australia through to her adolescence in England and Bombay and finally to London, Lucy is fascinated by light and by the new photographic technology. Her perception of the world is passionate and moving, revealed in a series of frozen images captured in the camera of her mind's eye showing her feelings about love, life and loss. In this confident, finely woven and intricate novel Jones has created an unforgettable character in Lucy; visionary, gifted and exuberant, she touches the lives of all who know her.' (Publication summary)

y separately published work icon Remembering Babylon David Malouf , London Milsons Point : Chatto and Windus Random House , 1993 Z452447 1993 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 48 units)

'In the mid-1840s, a thirteen-year-old boy, Gemmy Fairley, is cast ashore in the far north of Australia and taken in by Aborigines. Sixteen years later, when settlers reach the area, he moves back into the world of Europeans, men and women who are staking out their small patch of home in an alien place, hopeful and yet terrified of what it might do to them.

Given shelter by the McIvors, the family of the children who originally made contact with him, Gemmy seems at first to be guaranteed a secure role in the settlement, but there are currents of fear and mistrust in the air. To everyone he meets - from George Abbot, the romantically aspiring young teacher, to Mr Frazer, the minister, whose days are spent with Gemmy recording the local flora; from Janet McIvor, just coming to adulthood and discovering new versions of the world, to the eccentric Governor of Queensland himself - Gemmy stands as a different kind of challenge, as a force which both fascinates and repels. And Gemmy himself finds his own whiteness as unsettling in this new world as the knowledge he brings with him of the savage, the Aboriginal.' - Publisher's blurb (Chatto & Windus, 1993).

Waverley, or, 'Tis Sixty Years Since'!$!Scott, Walter!$!Boston!$!Bradford and Read!$!1815
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)

Description

This seminar examines a range of true fictions about the past that circulate in the public domain as literature. Students will read a diverse array of historical fictions in the light of ideas drawn from theorists of literature and historiography. In what ways have historians deployed literary devices? How have literary authors shaped the novel both as a genre of public history and as a form of historigraphic metafiction? What is gained and/or lost by packaging and disseminating history as fiction? What can be learned by using literary theory and textual analysis to understand the dynamics of scholarly historical narrative? And finally, how have literary authors and their critics become entangled in Australia's on-going history wars.

Assessment

All students will submit a long essay on a topic to be approved. Essays are 15000 words in length. Each semester option is assessed by a 4000 word essay.

Other Details

Levels: Undergraduate - Honours
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