National Identity in Australian Literature

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)

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Abstract

On January 1, 1901, Australia became a nation; six British colonies—New South Wales,
Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania—joined to form
the Commonwealth of Australia. At the time of Federation, debates raged over who or
what constituted a new national type; the forms best suited to convey the values these
figures represented; and the proper settings for their stories. These arguments were had
not only with aesthetic interests in mind but with a conscious awareness, or conviction,
that literature had a special role to play in establishing what was (thought to be) unique
about this new nation. Alliances between literature and the Australian nation have been
observed, perpetuated, and contested since at least the last decades of the 19th century,
and the result has been multiple imaginings of Australia with many conflicting ideas and
interests at play. From the notion that Australia, as a “new nation,” might present white
women with the opportunity to shed oppressive gender identities to indigenous
knowledge systems questioning the very idea and authority of the nation, literary
imaginings of Australia speak to national myths and political interventions alike.
Peer-reviewedYes
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Research Encyclopedia
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages30
StatePublished - Jul 2017


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