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Issue Details: First known date: 2016... 2016 Teaching Australian and New Zealand Literature
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Australia and New Zealand, united geographically by their location in the South Pacific and linguistically by their English-speaking inhabitants, share the strong bond of hope for cultural diversity and social equality—one often challenged by history, starting with the appropriation of land from their indigenous peoples. This volume explores significant themes and topics in Australian and New Zealand literature. In their introduction, the editors address both the commonalities and differences between the two nations’ literatures by considering literary and historical contexts and by making nuanced connections between the global and the local. Contributors share their experiences teaching literature on the iconic landscape and ecological fragility; stories and perspectives of convicts, migrants, and refugees; and Maori and Aboriginal texts, which add much to the transnational turn.' (Publication summary)


  • Only literary material within AustLit's #scope#(/austlit/page/5961889) individually indexed. Other material in this issue includes:

    • The Making and Unmaking of New Zealand by Anna Boswell
    • Teaching International Postcolonialism : Witi Ihimaera and the Familiarity of Family by Melissa Kennedy
    • Katherine Mansfield is the Problem by Lydia Wevers
    • Frank Sargeson and 'The Right Colonial Tradition' by Sarah Shieff
    • Blood and Water : Teaching Allen Curnow by Alex Calder
    • Carrying the Voice by Bridget Orr
    • Teaching Janet Frame’s An Angel at My Table in a Life-Writing Course by Claire Bazin
    • Threshold Moments: Teaching the New Zealand Adolescent Novel by Claudia Marquis


* Contents derived from the New York (City), New York (State),
United States of America (USA),
Modern Language Association of America , 2016 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Introduction, Nicholas Birns , Nicole Moore , Sarah Shieff , single work criticism

'Australia and New Zealand are linked by their South Pacific setting, English-speaking populations, and shared histories of hope for cultural diversity and social equality, in a context where history, starting with the appropriation of land from the Indigenous peoples, has often challenged those hopes. But Australia and New Zealand also have great differences. Maori (the Indigenous people of Aotearoa / New Zealand) and Pakeha (New Zealanders of European origin) have been in a legally constituted — albeit contested — relationship since the foundational Treaty of Waitangi of 1840. It was not until 1967 that Indigenous Australians were included in Australia's census, however, and not until 1976, with the first Land Rights Ad, that Indigenous Australians' dispossession saw major legal redress. And it was only in 1992, with the Australian High Court's decision in favor of the claim of Eddie Koiki Mabo to land on his Murray Island home, that settler Australia's occupying doctrine of terra nullius was overturned. Te reo Maori (the language of the Maori people) is one language, related to other Polynesian languages. It has the status of an official language in New Zealand, and public signs and documents are often in both English and Maori, the way English and French are both used in Canada. On the other hand, Australian Aborigines and Tones Strait Islanders speak a multitude of languages. That diversity has allowed the hegemony of English to be less challenged than in virtually any other English-speaking country. Of Australia's fifty officially surviving languages, only ten have recorded speakers of one thousand or more, and, of the two strongest, neither Arrernte from central Australia nor Dhuwal-Dhuwala from Arnhem Land has more than four thousand (Population Composition). Migrants from Europe and Asia have played a prominent role in Australian culture, but in more significant numbers only since the dissolving of the White Australia policy from the early 1960s; in New Zealand, contemporary cultural formations reflect a significant history of migration from the Pacific Islands.' (Introduction)

(p. 1-13)
Relocating Literary Sensibility : Colonial Australian Print Culture in the Digital Age, Nicholas Birns , Nicole Moore , single work criticism

'The beginnings of European settlement in Australia coincided with the consolidation of print culture in Western Europe. It was a chronicled invasion, a settling of posited imperial space both preempted and witnessed in the pages of northern hemisphere periodicals. Expansive print cultures sustained the careers of figures such as Samuel Johnson and Retif de la Bretonne, who newly made their living publishing their work, and generated political documents such as the United States Declaration of Independence and Constitution, meant to reach a worldwide audience through print. This coincidence is significant not only because of the large and varied print record of colonization itself made possible by the new technology (Bird 23). First Fleet accounts, such as Deputy Judge Advocate and Lieutenant Governor David Collins's 1798 journal of exploration and settlement, were published in a European metropolitan context in which colonial writings were much in demand, representing as they did the fruits of what may be termed Enlightenment globalization. European mapping, exploration, trade, and imperial control extended over many corners of the globe. Expanding understanding of continuing Indigenous histories of occupation, travel, and exchange witnesses this too. ' (Introduction)

(p. 15-28)
Bush Legends and Pastoral Landscapes, David Carter , single work criticism

'From the mid-nineteenth century to the present, the bush has been among the most powerful ways of signifying Australia. The term has been used with reference to diverse landscapes and ways of life and has been given radically different political meanings - conservative, imperialist, republican, utopian, and socialist. The bush landscape has been populated by noble pioneers and rough-hewn bush workers and projected equally as the site of regeneration and degeneration. Beneath these divergent meanings lies the shared belief that it is in the bush that the authentic, distinctive, typical, or essential Australia will be found. In 1893 the journalist Francis Adams wrote that, despite the many harsh aspects of life in the bush, ‘not only all that is genuinely characteristic in Australia and the Australians spring[s] from this heart of the land, but also all that is noblest, kindliest, and best’ (154). The bushman was the ‘one powerful and unique national type yet produced in Australia’ (163). (Introduction)

(p. 42-54)
'Terror Nullius' : Contemporary Australian Frontier Fictions in the Classroom, Russell West-Pavlov , single work criticism

‘A fire hydrant on a street corner in Carlton, in inner-city Melbourne, carries an ephemeral stencilled graffito : ‘terror nullius.’ The graffito is a pun on the legal doctrine of terra nullius, Latin for ‘nobody’s land,’ which dictated that any territory found by a colonizing power could be occupied and claimed if it was deemed not to be inhabited by prior occupants. Typically it was deployed by the British, for example, in a number of rulings in the mid- to late – nineteenth century, (Reynolds, 'Frontier History' 4) to legitimize their colonial conquests around the so-called New World, in particular in Australia. Its hegemony as a legal fiction was ended by the Australian High Court’s historic Mabo ruling of 1992, which deemed that so-called native title, that is, Indigenous possession of Australia, had existed before and after British occupation and the declaration of sovereignty in 1788 (Butt, Eagleson, and Lane).’ (Introduction)

(p. 67-76)
Teaching Australian Multicultural Literature, Wenche Ommundsen , single work criticism

'Multiculturalism, introduced in Australia after the Whitlam Labor Government came to power in 1972, represented a significant shift in government policy. The White Australia policy, introduced on federation in 1901, had effectively barred non-white immigration for the last seventy years of the young nation’s history, and twenty-three years of unbroken conservative rule ensured that the nation retained its cultural identity as British, despite the large numbers of non-British and non-English speaking migrants who arrived after the Second World War. Multiculturalism, initially a policy framework focusing on issues of social justice affecting Australia’s postwar migrant communities, gradually entered other fields, and the 1980s saw vigorous debates about its place in the area of cultural production. In recent decades, the Australian nation has become increasingly diverse both ethnically and linguistically, but we have also seen a backlash against the policy of multiculturalism in some segments of the population. Multicultural literature, generally defined as writing by Australian writers of non-indigenous, ethnic minority background, has often found itself at the center of heated debates about cultural and literary legitimacy, debates that inevitably have affected how literature is studied and taught in Australian schools and universities. Ironically, the very fact that this writing has come to embody so many of the tensions and contradictions in contemporary Australian culture makes it an ideal teaching tool : as a reflection of social and cultural relations, as a catalyst for discussion of how cultural production is framed and received, as a lightning rod for paradoxes surrounding writing from cultural minorities in national and global contexts.’ (Introduction)

(p. 77-86)
Christina Stead : Portraits of the Author as a Young Woman, Susan Sheridan , single work criticism

'This essay discusses Stead's two most prominent novels, which are often reprinted and thus available to international readerships and teachers. One is set in Washington DC, the other in Sydney and London, but together they draw on and transfigure the key elements of her Australian childhood and youth.' (112)

(p. 111-121)
Identity, Perversity, and Literary Subjectivity : Teaching Patrick White's The Twyborn Affair, Elizabeth McMahon , single work criticism

‘Sex and gender are acknowledged as highly vexed and contradictory categories in Australian history and culture. White Australia’s ethos of mateship, the primacy of friendship between men, excludes women, yet white Australian women were among the first in the world to be granted the franchise. Mateship is a fiercely homophobic relation, yet today the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in one of Australia’s most celebrated international events. Australian literature rehearses similar contradictions and anxieties. Specifically, at the time of nation formation in the late nineteenth century, and coinciding with the rise of nationalist discourses more generally, Australian literature commonly presents processes of identity formation without stable definition or closure, betraying a fascination with perverse and volatile identities.’ (Introduction)

(p. 133-144)
An Australian Hybridity of Dialect and Didactics in Les Murray's Subhuman Redneck Poems, Rodney McRae , single work criticism

‘Studying Les Murray’s poetry provides students the opportunity to recognize important contexts for Australians’ connection to an often daunting land, for the tensions between city and country perceptions, and for contemporary manifestations of clashing Indigenous and postcolonial identities. Thus, selecting Murray as a representative of Australian poetry seems clear for many, especially those who now consider him to be Australia’s preeminent poet-although there are some for whom he is not their first choice, for distinctive reasons. Elleke Boehmer noted in 1995 that Murray is ‘Australia’s self-elected bard of the demonic’ (218), and in 2007 Dan Chiasson argued that he ‘is now routinely mentioned among three or four leading English-language poets’ (136). In his long career, he has had published over forty books of poetry and essays. His work has garnered many literary awards, including the coveted T.S. Eliot Prize in 1996 and a Queens’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 1998. (Introduction)

(p. 145-154)
Relearning Whiteness : David Malouf's Remembering Babylon, Tanya Dalziell , single work criticism

‘David Malouf’s novel Remembering Babylon (1993) enjoys a prominent place in the contemporary Australian literary landscape and raises a number of intriguing ideas about pedagogy and whiteness, which this essay explores. The essay does so on the premise, admittedly open to examination, that literature has a role to play in enabling connections across cultures, even cultures (or perhaps particularly cultures) that would seem to have much in common, like Australia and the United States: the English language, a history of British colonization, democratic forms of government, popular cultures promoted by global corporations. By focusing on Malouf’s novel through the calibrated lens of critical whiteness pedagogy, students are offered some distance, or difference, that will allow discussions of whiteness that can then be interrogated in the students’ own learning and social contexts, including but also extending beyond personal experience. This approach aligns with observations in pedagogical literature that an emphasis on individual circumstances alone ‘effectively limits any systematic challenge of the systemic structures’ (Solomon et al. 161). Engagement with Malouf’s novel additionally provides students with the opportunity to enter into a fictional space that invites extratextual immersion in a culture or cultures other than their own. This challenge raises the issues of power and knowledge that Malouf’s novel subtly thematizes and that can be a close reading of the text coupled with contextual material.’ (Introduction)

(p. 155-164)
Troubling Language : Storytelling and Sovereignty in Kim Scott’s Benang, Hilary Emmett , single work criticism

'‘[I]t is far, far easier for me to sing than write, because this language troubles me, makes me feel as if I am walking across the earth which surrounds salt lakes, that thin earth upon which it is best to tread warily, skims lightly…’ (Scott, Benang 8). In these words, drawn from the opening lines of the Noongar author Kim Scott's Benang (1999) which won the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the English language is shown to destabilize the narrator’s relation to the land, rendering it tenuous and fragile. My account of teaching the novel is therefore founded on the premise that the issue of sovereignty and its relation to language is a key node in the network of resources we use to teach Indigenous Australian literature. Taking as its point of departure Fiona Nicoll's 2004 argument on sovereignty and critical whiteness theory, my essay explores the way that the recognition of Indigenous sovereignty is performed by the relation between text and reader set up by all Scott's novels. In his work, land and storytelling, ownership and history are inextricably connected. I propose that in Benang this performance comes about through the novel's initial withholding of hospitality, in conjunction with the reader's responsibility for seeking hospitality through acts of introduction, as well as the reader's willingness to accept the text's right "not to enter into relationships, to 'not be with me" (Sara Ahmed qtd. in Nicoll). By recognizing all these relations teachers of Scott’s work may be able to reintegrate the ‘socio-historical’ and ‘literary theoretical’ approaches to Indigenous writing that have been separated and hierarchized (e.g., the idea that historical and cultural understand must precede theoretical analysis) by some recent reflections on the ethics of teaching Indigenous literatures (Ballyn 44). My own teaching practise bears out the need to acknowledge the ways in which historical, legal, and literary discourses have sustained, performed, and masked the process of colonial dispossession and its attendant violence in Australia. However, thematization of reading, writing, and storytelling in Benang, the experimentality of Scott's work, and his virtuosic use of language ultimately demand that we engage that work as literature, not as social history, for all that social history will offer us entry into, and be opened up in turn by, an understanding of certain aspects of Aboriginal experience at particular moments in the settling of Australia. ' (Introduction)

(p. 165-178)
Indigenous Juxtapositions : Teaching Maori and Aboriginal Texts in Global Contexts, Chadwick Allen , single work criticism

‘Few of us who work in departments of English at colleges or universities in the United States have the opportunity to teach New Zealand Maori or Australian Aboriginal literatures in a stand-alone course. Instead, we include these texts in broader literary designations: global, comparative, postcolonial, Indigenous. I teach an upper-division undergraduate course with the general title Special Topics in World Literature once a year, alternating offerings between global Indigenous literatures and literatures of Oceania. My students, predominantly Americans who attend a large university in the Midwest, usually enter these courses unfamiliar with the geographies, histories, demographics, and contemporary cultural and political situations of either Aotearoa / New Zealand or Australia, and unfamiliar with either body of literature. Only a few arrive with a prior interest in Indigenous peoples; most register to fulfill a diversity requirement or to meet a world literature prerequisite for a master's program in English secondary education.’ (Introduction)

(p. 179-189)
Literature, Literary Ethics, and the Global Contexts of Australian Literature : Teaching Nam Le’s The Boat, Brigitta Olubas , single work criticism

‘This essay takes up the question of literary ethics as a mode of pedagogy and considers the way the contexts of writing and reading bear on the larger and historical and conceptual resonances of literary texts. Nam Le's collection of short stories, The Boat (2008), is an exemplary Australian text that speaks to its global and Asian-Pacific contexts, prompting students to engage with their contemporary world first through specific locations and then through the paradigm of what we call "the literary" or "literature," by which I mean an appreciation of the ways that literature and literary reading persist today despite the extraordinary shifts that we have witnessed in media and cultural literacy. I focus on the opening story of the collection, "Love and Honour and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice," because it explicitly addresses the question of literary ethics - that is, what writing and reading mean in the early twenty-first century—first through the protagonist,  a young Vietnamese Australian writer who shares his name with the author, and second through his experience of hearing and reworking a first-person story of trauma told to him by his father. That "Love and Honour" is rich with intertextual associations—notably with the writing of James Joyce, William Faulkner, and Kurt Vonnegut — gives students the opportunity to connect and reconnect with well-known works and to extend their sense of the terrain of the literary.’ (Introduction)

(p. 190-198)
Teaching Kate Grenville’s The Secret River in the United States : A Study, Maggie Nolan , Rebecca Weaver-Hightower , single work criticism

'Kate Grenville's The Secret River (2005) has been the subject of considerable controversy. Although the novel was awarded numerous prizes and was well received in the press, it was overwhelmingly criticized by historians and literary critics.' The historians are concerned that readers will confuse history and fiction; the critics are concerned that readers will empathize with the central character, thus ameliorating white guilt. Yet The Secret River has become a popular teaching text in universities, both in Australia and the United States. Given that the controversy has been largely confined to Australia, we are interested in considering why the novel is such a popular choice in literature courses in the United States and what this popularity tells us about the novel, the transnational dimension of literary studies of Australia, and pedagogical practices more generally. To that end, this essay draws on interviews with four United States academics who have taught The Secret River to consider the different issues it raises as a teaching text and what purposes it might serve as an Australian novel in a literature course in the United States. One of our most interesting findings is that it is precisely the qualities of the novel that trouble historical and literary scholars that make it such a compelling teaching text, enabling teachers to launch their students into the midst of ongoing unresolved debates.' (Introduction)

(p. 199-209)
Sally Morgan’s My Place : From the National to the Transnational, Rosanne Kennedy , single work criticism

'Published in 1987, the year before the bicentenary of Australian settlement, Sally Morgan's autobiographical bildungsroman, My Place, has achieved a rare success —it has become an iconic Australian text that circulates widely overseas. It has also been subject to pungent controversy in Australia, from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous critics. Its initial success stemmed in part from the timeliness of its publication. While plans were under way to commemorate two hundred years since the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney Harbour, under the theme of "one land, one people," Morgan challenged a celebratory version of Australian history with her personal narrative of the exclusion of Aborigines from national belonging. Her book narrates her search to confirm her Aboriginal heritage, which she comes to discover only in her late teens, and to find out why her mother and grandmother have denied it. Published during the lead-up to the history wars, a period of intense debate about the nation's treatment of Indigenous peoples during and since British colonization, My Place enabled many white readers to engage with its battler suburban version of Aboriginality and of Australia's colonial past. (Introduction)

(p. 210-222)
Liberating Australian Literature: Teaching from the Postnational Space, Claire Jones , single work criticism

'An episode of the popular panel discussion television program Q&A, aired 28 May 2012 by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, included Barry Humphries, an Australian satirist; Miriam Margolyes, an actress and Charles Dickens enthusiast; and David Marr, a journalist and commentator. It centered on the issue of whether the Australian identity is changing. An audience member suggested to Margolyes that Australian students should be studying not Dickens but Patrick White, that "we should be celebrating our own cultural identity." To this Margolyes replied, "I agree, but it doesn't mean that you have to cut out the others that are there." This conversation developed, fueled by the comedic elements that you might expect of such a panel, until the host, Tony Jones, a journalist, refocused the discussion by declaring that the question is really about "Australian identity, whether it is changing, whether we need to redefine it." This conversation finally takes us to a place in the discussion of teaching Australian literature and national identity that we have been reluctant to visit. With a tone of great sarcasm Humphries asked Marr, "Do you go around all day long worrying about your identity, David?" To which Marr replied, "No, I think it is a ridiculous waste of time. Let's just be" ("Episode 17"). (Introduction)

(p. 223-233)
Aboriginal Literature in the Classroom, Jeanine Leane , single work criticism

'I come to write this essay first as an Aboriginal Australian, educated in both Aboriginal and Western knowledge. Before I came to postdoctoral study, I was both a secondary and tertiary educator for almost two decades. I am a creative writer of poetry and prose and am driven to write, as I believe many Aboriginal authors are, because I have always been positioned on the other side of history. Firmly believing that the personal and the professional are inseparable in educational contexts, I need to begin by grounding myself.' (Introduction)

(p. 237-246)
Reading Gender : Teaching Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career, Julieanne Lamond , single work criticism

When Miles Franklin's My Brilliant Career was published in 1901, it was acclaimed (incorrectly) as "the very first Australian novel to be published" (Stephens 2). This was the first of many impassioned responses to the novel over the succeeding hundred or so years. My Brilliant Career is a troubling and contradictory work, especially in relation to gender. It is the fictional autobiography of a teenage girl in rural Australia as she travels between her family's poverty-stricken home and the luxurious surroundings of her grand-mother's farming property, fields proposals from suitors, and tries to work out what to do with her life. Its protagonist, Sybylla Melvyn, finally rejects marriage in the hope of an independent career.' (Introduction)

(p. 259-269)
Criminal Pursuits : Teaching Crime Fiction from New Zealand and Australia, Roger Nicholson , single work criticism

'Crime fiction recreates itself incessantly and, in doing so, expands and redraws the lines of its market, partly in response to its condition as a globalized, popular textual commodity. Its emergence—and especially its re-emergence —in Australia and New Zealand strikingly, but problematically, exemplifies this rule. An inevitable question when one turns to antipodean crime fiction, then, is how new the New Zealand crime story is, or the Australian, considering that the attraction of this literature is likely to be registered in bestseller lists and as a global phenomenon. Despite the ever-ramifying conservatism of the larger tradition of crime writing, a nonlocal course in Australasian crime writing necessarily deals in novelty and differ-ence, in its forms as well as in the cultural investigations it carries out in the guise of its fictions. The corollary of this claim is that, for all its difference, Australasian crime is intelligible first as an instantiation of a textual tradition that has its origins elsewhere. I argue, then, for the kind of course that draws crime writing from the Australasian region into a study of the global field of crime fiction. ' (Introduction)

(p. 291-301)

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Language: English
Last amended 18 Aug 2017 08:20:13