This book presents thirteen essays that address the numerous ways in which Australian literature is postcolonial and can be read using postcolonial reading strategies. The collection addresses a wide variety of Australian texts produced from the colonial period to the present, including works by Henry Lawson, Miles Franklin, Patrick White, Xavier Herbert, David Malouf, Peter Carey, Rodney Hall, Andrew McGahan, Elizabeth Jolley, Judith Wright, Kate Grenville, Janette Turner Hospital, Melissa Lucashenko, Kim Scott, and Alexis Wright. The chapters focus on works by Indigenous authors and writers of European descent, and examine specifically postcolonial issues, including hybridity, first contact, resistance, appropriation, race relations, language usage, indigeneity, immigration/invasion, land rights and ownership, national identity, marginalization, mapping, naming, mimicry, the role of historical narratives, settler guilt and denial, and anxieties regarding belonging. The essays emphasize the postcolonial nature of Australian literature and utilize postcolonial theory to analyze Australian texts.
The primary objectives of the essay collection are to emphasize, highlight, and examine the postcolonial nature of Australian literature. Within postcolonial studies, literature from South Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean is often privileged, causing the literature of settler societies such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand to be ignored. This collection provides ample evidence that Australian literature is indeed postcolonial literature, that it deserves more recognition as such, and that postcolonial reading strategies provide immensely fruitful methods for analyzing Australian texts. Moreover, the collection seeks to fill a gap in postcolonial studies. Essay collections focusing on the postcolonial nature of national and regional literatures have previously been published; however, Postcolonial Issues in Australian Literature is the first collection to focus exclusively on Australian literature as postcolonial literature and the first collection of essays on Australian literature in which all the contributors write from a postcolonial theoretical perspective. It is thus a groundbreaking work that makes an important contribution to both Australian literary studies and postcolonial studies.
Narrow definitions of “postcolonial” that exclude settler colonies such as Australia not only serve to marginalize rich bodies of literature and literary criticism, they also ignore and/or obscure the fact that there are many kinds of postcolonialism, many types of postcolonial societies, and many ways for texts to be postcolonial. Postcolonial Issues in Australian Literature, as a body of work, insists that Australian literature is postcolonial literature and deserves equal status with the literature of other postcolonial nations. The contributions in the volume demonstrate that postcolonial theory and postcolonial analyses of Australian literature continue to be useful, relevant and innovative. Bill Ashcroft’s “Reading Post-Colonial Australia” presents a detailed and important argument for reading Australian literature as postcolonial literature. By examining “postcolonial medievalism” and regional literature, Nicholas Birns and Per Henningsgaard both push the scholarship of Australian literature in new directions, shedding light on under-explored topics. Nicholas Dunlop and Lesley Hawkes explore issues of postcolonial space, mapping and belonging. Martina Horakova examines the issue of non-Indigenous belonging, while Rebecca Weaver-Hightower addresses notions of white guilt over the displacement and harsh treatment of Indigenous peoples. Michael R. Griffiths theorizes settler colonialism, race relations and Indigeneity in his analysis of Kim Scott’s Benang, while Tomoko Ichitani examines Indigenous subjectivity in novels by Alexis Wright and Melissa Lucashenko. Katie Ellis makes a significant contribution to the fields of disability studies, postcolonial studies and Australian literature through her analysis of disability in Elizabeth Jolley’s The Well. Peter Mathews makes a subtly provocative argument about postcolonialism in his chapter on Rodney Hall, while Lyn McCredden analyzes postcolonial poetry by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The contributors include one of the founding exponents of postcolonial theory, Bill Ashcroft, and Nicholas Birns, the editor of Antipodes, one of the leading journals of Australian literature. The contributors hail from Australia, Asia, North America and Europe, making the collection truly international and demonstrating the global interest in Australian literature. The chapters in this volume are unified by subject, theme and theoretical approach, and together constitute an original contribution to both Australian literary studies and postcolonial studies.
This is an important book for all literature and Australasian collections. The collection is primarily aimed at students, teachers and scholars of Australian and postcolonial literature, including undergraduate and postgraduate students, faculty who teach courses in Australian and postcolonial literature, and scholars who conduct research on Australian and postcolonial literature. The book will be useful for courses on both Australian literature and postcolonial literature, especially postcolonial courses that include Australian texts. The collection includes contributions addressing the work of many internationally recognized leading contemporary Australian novelists, providing the collection with broad appeal to students and scholars around the world with an interest in prominent, award-wining authors and works.
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