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Postcolonial Australian Literature (6AAEC001)
Semester 2 / 2011


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 Don't Take Your Love to Town Ruby Langford Ginibi , Ringwood : Penguin , 1988 Z496435 1988 single work autobiography (taught in 10 units)

'Don’t Take Your Love to Town is a story of courage in the face of poverty and tragedy. Ruby recounts losing her mother when she was six, growing up in a mission in northern New South Wales and leaving home when she was fifteen. She lived in tin huts and tents in the bush and picked up work on the land while raising nine children virtually single-handedly. Later she struggled to make ends meet in the Koori areas of Sydney. Ruby is an amazing woman whose sense of humour has endured through all the hardships she has experienced.' (Source UQP website:

y separately published work icon The Dreamers Jack Davis , Paddington : Currency Press , 1996 Z450251 1982 single work drama (taught in 18 units)
— Appears in: ドリーマーズ : ノー・シュガー 2006;

'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 Wild Cat Falling Colin Johnson , Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1965 Z203627 1965 single work novel (taught in 13 units)

'Wild Cat Falling is the story of an Aboriginal youth, a 'bodgie' of the early sixties who grows up on the ragged outskirts of a country town, falls into petty crime, goes to gaol, and comes out to do battle once more with the society who put him there. Its publication in 1965 marked a unique literary event, for this was the first novel by any writer of Aboriginal blood to be published in Australia. As well, it is a remarkable piece of literature in its own right, expressing the dilemmas and conflicts of the young Aboriginal in modern Australian society with its memorable insight and stylishness.' (Publication summary)

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)

'Through the crumbling ruins of the once splendid Xanadu, Miss Hare wanders, half-mad. In the wilderness she stumbles upon an Aboriginal artist and a Jewish refugee. They place themselves in the care of a local washerwoman. In a world of pervasive evil, all four have been independently damaged and discarded. Now in one shared vision they find themselves bound together, understanding the possibility of redemption.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (Vintage ed.).

y separately published work icon Coonardoo : The Well in the Shadow Katharine Susannah Prichard , 1928 Z1081769 1928 single work novel (taught in 39 units) Set in North-West of Western Australia, it describes life on cattle stations and the relationship between the white owner of the station and Coonardoo, an Aboriginal woman.
y separately published work icon The Sunny South George Darrell , 1884 (Manuscript version)x400854 Z21647 1884 single work drama humour (taught in 1 units)
y separately published work icon The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl : An Operetta in Two Acts; The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl : A Musical Play in Two Acts Edward Geoghegan , (Manuscript version)x401304 Z1072217 1844 single work musical theatre (taught in 1 units)

Ballad opera (in two acts).

The lively and light-hearted story concerns a rich uncle (Sir Samuel Simile) who mistakenly believes that his nephew is going to marry a 'native' girl when the lad is in fact to marry Susan Hearty - a currency lass (white girl born in Australia). The uncle is put through a good deal of torment before being told of his error.

Geoghegan wrote The Currency Lass for Tilly Jones, a popular young actress who was also among the first citizens to be born in Australia. There is, however, no record of her ever having appeared in any of the three 1844 Victoria Theatre productions. Although now recognised as historically significant, The Currency Lass did not fare as well as other productions presented by Samuel Lazar at the Royal Victoria during the same year. More popularly received, for example, were plays such as Humphrey Clinker (farce), Twins of Warsaw, Sworn at Highgate, The Beehive (musical farce), The Executioner, Aladdin, Turning the Tables, and Geoghegan's big success, The Hibernian Father.

The fourteen songs used in the original production had new lyrics set to pre-existing tunes, as is traditionally the case with the ballad opera style (see note below). The melodies used were mostly from traditional Irish, English or Scottish songs, with the choice of material sometimes undertaken with a degree of deliberate humour. In his preface to the 1976 Currency edition Roger Covell points for example to the air 'A Fine Old English Gentleman' (the melody comes from an Irish dialect song) which Geoghegan uses to recall the supposed golden age of English gentry. Covell also suggests that the actor playing the role of Susan requires agility and accuracy in both her singing and dancing (these are sometimes required with much vigour at the same time). This is particularly the case in a pivotal scene in Act Two where she performs a sequence of five characterised songs and dances. Although many of the songs used by Geoghegan are no longer well-known, several tunes are still reasonably recognisable today - these being, 'Malbrook' (a French melody used by English-speaking people when they sing 'For He's a Jolly Good Fellow'); 'Over the Hills and Far Away' (from John Gay's The Beggar's Opera); and 'The Lincolnshire Poacher' (its melody is also used for the Australian folksong, 'The Murrumbidgee Shearer').

The 1966 Jane Street production was part of a trilogy of plays used to launch the company's season of Australian drama. The other two plays were I've Come about the Assassination by Tony Morphett, and The Pier by Michael Thomas. All three plays utilised members of the same company. The 1989 Q Theatre production, which kept the lighthearted, comic feel of Geoghegan's original, cast Aboriginal actor Justine Saunders in the role of the bigoted uncle, Samuel Similie, in an attempt to re-orientate Goeghegan's theme towards one of race. The stage also featured a ground plan of Aboriginal dots and circle motifs.

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 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 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)


This course 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 course 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.


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

Other Details

Offered in: 2009
Levels: Undergraduate