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Australian Literature and the Canonical Imaginary (ENGL6991/ASLT4011)
Semester 1 / 2015

Texts

y separately published work icon Kenneth Slessor Selected Poems Kenneth Slessor , Sydney : HarperCollins , 2014 7172898 2014 selected work poetry (taught in 4 units)

'Kenneth Slessor (1901-71) is one of Australia's finest poets and this is the definitive collection of 103 poems; all he had ever published. This is the author's selection of his work from 1919 to 1939, first published as One Hundred Poems in 1944 (with the addition of three further poems in 1957). It draws from his acclaimed books, Earth Visitors (1926), Cuckooz Contrey (1932) and Five Bells (1939). Introduced by Dennis Haskell, this selection includes Slessor's own piece about his work, 'Some Notes on the Poems'. From his historical series, 'Five Visions of Captain Cook', to his memorial to the loss of a friend, 'Five Bells', from the tragic landscape of El Alamein, made famous in 'Beach Burial', to the meditation 'Out of Time', Slessor's poetry continues to dazzle contemporary audiences.' (Publication summary)

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.

y separately published work icon That Deadman Dance Kim Scott , New York (City) : Bloomsbury , 2010 Z1728528 2010 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 43 units)

Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding, That Deadman Dance is set in the first decades of the 19th century in the area around what is now Albany, Western Australia. In playful, musical prose, the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers.

'The novel's hero is a young Noongar man named Bobby Wabalanginy. Clever, resourceful and eager to please, Bobby befriends the new arrivals, joining them hunting whales, tilling the land, exploring the hinterland and establishing the fledgling colony. He is even welcomed into a prosperous local white family where he falls for the daughter, Christine, a beautiful young woman who sees no harm in a liaison with a native.

'But slowly - by design and by accident - things begin to change. Not everyone is happy with how the colony is developing. Stock mysteriously start to disappear; crops are destroyed; there are "accidents" and injuries on both sides. As the Europeans impose ever stricter rules and regulations in order to keep the peace, Bobby's Elders decide they must respond in kind. A friend to everyone, Bobby is forced to take sides: he must choose between the old world and the new, his ancestors and his new friends. Inexorably, he is drawn into a series of events that will forever change not just the colony but the future of Australia...' (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 Cloudstreet Tim Winton , Melbourne : McPhee Gribble , 1991 Z204365 1991 single work novel (taught in 16 units) 'From separate catastrophes two rural families flee to the city and find themselves sharing a great, breathing, shuddering joint called Cloudstreet, where they begin their lives again from scratch. For twenty years they roister and rankle, laugh and curse until the roof over their heads becomes a home for their hearts.' (Source: Publisher's 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 Maurice Guest Henry Handel Richardson , London : Heinemann , 1908 Z821550 1908 single work novel (taught in 6 units)

'A passionate and controversial novel set in turn-of-the-century Europe

'Henry Handel Richardson’s debut, published in London in 1908, is set in the music scene of Leipzig, a cosmopolitan centre for the arts drawing students from around the world—among them Maurice Guest, a young Englishman, who falls helplessly in love with an Australian woman, Louise Dufrayer. Maurice Guest is the story of this overwhelming passion.

'The novel was deemed too controversial to be published as Richardson intended, and she was forced to cut twenty thousand words from the original manuscript and tone down its language.' (Publication summary)

y separately published work icon Prelude to Christopher Eleanor Dark , Sydney : P. R. Stephensen , 1934 Z824226 1934 single work novel (taught in 22 units)

'Should a woman bear a child knowing that there are traces of insanity in her family? Linda Hainlin, niece of a famous biologist, was aware of the danger when she married Dr. Nigel Hendon, a practical idealist, whose creed was normality and the rational ordering of the world. This book tells how, years later, while temporarily deprived of her husband's sane companionship, Linda feels the oncoming of those homicidal impulses which presage madness. On this tragic theme, 'Prelude to Christopher' is written with strong literary art as a narrative of four days of crisis. The story goes back in memory to the happiness of Linda's love for Nigel, and forward in her frightened imagination to a future from which the strongest must flinch. Christopher, the unborn child, dominates terrific events in which he has no living part to play. The prelude to his birth is told with emotional power.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

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)

y separately published work icon While the Billy Boils : The Original Newspaper Versions Henry Lawson , Paul Eggert (editor), Sydney : Sydney University Press , 2013 6155517 2013 selected work short story (taught in 3 units)

'Fifty-two of Henry Lawson's stories and sketches that he had first published in newspapers and magazines from 1888 onwards were gathered in his collection While the Billy Boils (Angus & Robertson, 1896). Lawson was not responsible for their ordering and he had to give ground on their texts, especially on his idiosyncratic presentation of wordings that helped to breathe life into his characters and situations. The present edition dismantles the fait accompli of 1896 by presenting the individual items in the chronological order of their first publication and with their original newspaper texts. This will allow a new appreciation of Lawson's writing, one that is attentive to his developing powers.

'The edition also facilitates a close study of Lawson's collaboration with the producers of the collection in 1896, in particular with his copy-editor Arthur W. Jose and publisher George Robertson. Facsimile images (available online) of the printer's copy that they prepared for While the Billy Boils supplement the edition's listing of the alterations that each of them made, revealing the textual history of each story or sketch.' (Publisher's blurb)

y separately published work icon The Mystery of a Hansom Cab Fergus Hume , Melbourne : Kemp and Boyce , 1886 Z156928 1886 single work novel (taught in 8 units)

'Set in the charming and deadly streets of Melbourne, this vivid and brilliantly plotted murder thriller tells the story of a crime committed by an unknown assassin. With its panoramic depiction of a bustling yet uneasy city, Hansom Cab has a central place in Australian literary history and, more importantly, it remains highly readable. ' (Publication summary)

Description

This unit examines a selection of Australian works that have - or have not - achieved the status of 'classics'. It will explore both theoretically and historically the processes of literary canon formation and the economy of literary prestige, developing techniques of close reading while also attending to the wider social contexts of reception and reputation-making both nationally and internationally.

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