The Nineteenth Century in the Recent Australian Imaginary

Duthie, Fiona (2007). The Nineteenth Century in the Recent Australian Imaginary PhD Thesis, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, University of Queensland.

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Author Duthie, Fiona
Thesis Title The Nineteenth Century in the Recent Australian Imaginary
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies and Art History
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2007
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Christopher Tiffin
Abstract/Summary The nineteenth century has long been a source of fascination for Australian writers and historians as the origins of white settlement are continuously disentangled. As rapid changes in technology, economic restructuring and political innovations in the last thirty years have made the questions of values and future direction more urgent, re-evaluations of the past, focused by the Bicentennial of white settlement in 1988, have played a role in this quest. This thesis will discuss the ways in which certain aspects of the nineteenth century are represented in the recent Australian imaginary and what these representations imply about contemporary Australian culture. It will become clear that in recent times, Australian historical disciplines have been enriched by a proliferation of voices and methods. However, most historical novelists and historians do not paint the voices unmediated – there is a system of ethics in most interpretative frameworks. This thesis will analyse fictional representations in terms of the ethical debates informing both modern literature and historiography. There will be three subject areas: “Depictions of Britain”, “Convictism” and “Relations with Aborigines.” The first chapter will examine various representations of nineteenth-century Britain in recent Australian literature. This will include examinations of the relevant sections in Barbara Hanrahan’s The Albatross Muff (1977), Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda (1988), Michael Noonan’s Magwitch (1982), Peter Carey’s Jack Maggs (1997), David Malouf’s The Conversations at Curlow Creek (1996) and Bryce Courtenay’s The Potato Factory (1995). The prison settlements of colonial Australia have been an equally popular subject over the period under discussion. Therefore, the second chapter will examine Jessica Anderson’s The Commandant (1975), Come Danger, Come Darkness (1978) by Ruth Park, Rodney Hall’s The Second Bridegroom (1991), Gould’s Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish (2001) by Richard Flanagan, Christopher Koch’s Out of Ireland (1999) and Thomas Keneally’s novel The Playmaker (1987). As interjections to these accounts will be the historical arguments of Robert Hughes, Michael Roe, Stephen Nicholas, Ian Duffield and Lloyd L. Robson. In the third chapter, recent representations of social and personal relations between Aborigines and white settlers will be examined. The chapter will focus upon Patrick White’s A Fringe of Leaves (1976), Liam Davison’s The White Woman (1994), Grace Bartram’s Darker Grows the Valley (1981), Jack Davis’s Kullark (1984), Rodney Hall’s The Second Bridegroom (1991), David Malouf’s Remembering Babylon (1993) and Thomas Keneally’s The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972). Representations of violent relations will also be examined. There are copious fictional accounts of settlers slaughtering Aboriginal people. Among others, the thesis will consider Mudrooroo’s Dr Wooreddy’s Prescription for Enduring the Ending of the World (1983), Mark Svendsen’s Poison Under Their Lips (2001), Carmel Bird’s Cape Grimm (2004), Queen Trucanini by Nancy Cato and Vivienne Rae Ellis (1976), Jack Davis’s Kullark (1984), Eric Willmot’s Pemulwuy: The Rainbow Warrior (1987), Kate Grenville’s The Secret River (2005), Robert Drewe’s The Savage Crows (1976), Thea Astley’s A Kindness Cup (1975) and Sam Watson’s The Kadaitcha Sung (1990). Parallel to these studies will be discussions of the historical works of Henry Reynolds, Geoffrey Blainey, Bain Attwood, Keith Windschuttle and Lyndall Ryan.

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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 16:38:18 EST