National imaginings and classroom conversations: Past and present debates about teaching Australian literature

B. Doecke, L. Mclean Davies, Philip Mead

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


On August 21, 2011 the Melbourne Age reported that the University of Melbourne wasn't offering any formal undergraduate studies in Australian literature. In 'Uni brought to book for snub to local literature,' journalist Nicole Brady reported on a 'DIY' course in Australian literature organised by third-year Arts student Stephanie Guest in response to the absence of official undergraduate offerings in 2011. Guest's student-run seminar series took place in Melbourne's historic Law Quad on Friday afternoons, and hosted a number of writers, including Elliot Pearlman, who all came along to talk about their craft. Apparently, Guest became aware of an enthusiasm for and commitment to a national literature while on an exchange to Argentina, as a student of Spanish. This caused her to reflect on her own sparse knowledge of Australian literature, mostly gained at high school through the study of 'very dusty' texts about mateship, world wars and white men. Inspired by the ways literature in Spanish provides insights into the nuances of Argentinean culture, Guest keenly felt the absence of her national literary cultural capital, and resolved to remedy this situation when she returned to Australia. Disappointed, but not unfazed when she found that no formal course was available to her, Guest sought out like-minded peers, and set about contacting local writers. (Authors introduction, 1)
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTeaching Australian Literature: From Classroom Conversations to National Imaginings
EditorsBrendon Doecke, Larissa McLean Davies, Philip Mead
Place of PublicationSouth Australia
PublisherWakefield Press
ISBN (Print)9781743050453
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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