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Australian Women's Fiction (ENG2AWF / ENG3AWF)
Semester 1 / 2012


form y separately published work icon Night Cries : A Rural Tragedy Tracey Moffatt , Jimmy Little (composer), ( dir. Tracey Moffatt ) Alice Springs : Chili Films , 1989 Z142554 1989 single work film/TV (taught in 12 units)

A middle-aged Aboriginal woman nurses her old white mother. During her tending of the old woman, she expresses her frustrations and previously suppressed anger, her own need for warmth and love, and her personal loneliness. Her memories and dreams invade her nerve-fraying routine until the old woman dies and she begins to experience an immense sense of loss.

In the ABC Radio National program, It's Not A Race in May 2017, Marcia Langton notes that Night Cries is the retelling of Jedda as a horror story.

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 Bush Studies Barbara Baynton , London : Duckworth , 1902 Z820571 1902 selected work short story (taught in 12 units)

'Bush Studies is famous for its stark realism—for not romanticising bush life, instead showing all its bleakness and harshness.

'Economic of style, influenced by the great nineteenth-century Russian novelists, Barbara Baynton’s short-story collection presents the Australian bush as dangerous and isolating for the women who inhabit it.' (Publication summary : Text Classics)

Serious Undertakings!$!Helen Grace!$!Australia!$!Helen Grace!$!1983
y separately published work icon The Well Elizabeth Jolley , Ringwood : Viking , 1986 Z385481 1986 single work novel (taught in 17 units)
— Appears in: Kokainovyj Bljuz [and] Kolodec 1991;

'Miss Hester Harper, middle-aged and eccentric, brings Katherine into her emotionally impoverished life. Together they sew, cook gourmet dishes for two, run the farm, make music and throw dirty dishes down the well. One night, driving along the deserted track that leads to the farm, they run into a mysterious creature. They heave the body from the roo bar and dump it into the farm's deep well. But the voice of the injured intruder will not be stilled and, most disturbing of all, the closer Katherine is drawn to the edge of the well, the farther away she gets from Hester.' (From the publisher's website.)

form y separately published work icon The Well Laura Jones , ( dir. Samantha Lang ) Australia : Southern Star Xanadu , 1997 Z817969 1997 single work film/TV fantasy (taught in 3 units)

Katherine works on an isolated farm run by Hester and Hester's father Francis. Unhappy because of her heavy workload, Katherine wants to leave. Hester doesn't want her to go, because she is attracted to her younger friend. She manages to convince Katherine to stay by promising to give her less work in the future. When old Francis dies, Hester sells the farm for cash, and she and Katherine move to a small cottage on the farm's edge, from where they plan a trip to Europe. A tragic accident and the theft of their money changes their plans.

y separately published work icon Poppy Drusilla Modjeska , Ringwood : McPhee Gribble , 1990 Z791794 1990 single work novel (taught in 2 units) Drusilla Modjeska sets out to collect the evidence of her mother's life. When the facts refuse to give up their secrets, she follows the threads of history and memory into imagination. There she teases out the story of Poppy, who married at twenty and had an apparently happy life until, suddenly one day in 1959, she was taken away to a sanatorium. (Source: Libraries Australia)
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 My Brilliant Career Miles Franklin , Edinburgh London : William Blackwood , 1901 Z161522 1901 single work novel (taught in 56 units)

'My Brilliant Career was written by Stella Franklin (1879-1954) when she was just nineteen years old. The novel struggled to find an Australian publisher, but was published in London and Edinburgh in 1901 after receiving an endorsement from Henry Lawson. Although Franklin wrote under the pseudonym 'Miles Franklin', Lawson’s preface makes it clear that Franklin is, as Lawson puts it 'a girl.'

'The novel relates the story of Sybylla Melvyn, a strong-willed young woman of the 1890s growing up in the Goulburn area of New South Wales and longing to be a writer.' (Publication summary)

form y separately published work icon My Brilliant Career Eleanor Witcombe , ( dir. Gillian Armstrong ) Adelaide : Margaret Fink Productions , 1979 Z817179 1979 single work film/TV (taught in 7 units)

Based on the book by Miles Franklin, this feature film tells the story of an Australian country girl who, at the end of the nineteenth century, wants to make her own way in the outside world.

Rejecting an offer of marriage from a wealthy suitor (who is also her childhood friend), she instead finds herself obligated to work off her father's debt to a neighbouring family, for whom she works as governess and housekeeper. Returning home, she again rejects her suitor's proposal, this time in favour of writing a novel based on her experiences.

y separately published work icon Kirkham's Find Mary Gaunt , London : Methuen , 1897 Z821640 1897 single work novel (taught in 2 units)


This unit examines the fictional texts of a number of 19th and 20th century women writers and film-makers and focuses particularly on representation of women's social and sexual identities, Included among the fictional texts are several pairs of novel-film comparisons. Students also become familiar with some of the main debates in feminist literary criticism and film theory.


2,500-word essay 50%; 1,500-word review 30%; class-work journal 20%. Third-year students will be expected to display a higher level of discipline-specific skills in their written work than second-year students.

Other Details

Offered in: 2011, 2010
Current Campus: Bendigo
Levels: Undergraduate - Honours