Aussie/Not Aussie: Widening the Postcolonial Lens
This practice-based thesis consists of a novel and a self-reflective critical paper examining memory, transcultural identity and storytelling in contemporary Australian literature.
The novel, Dear Gods & Little Fishes, is a combination of memoir, acquired memory, knowledge, imaginings and stories. Set in the 1960’s, it is the story of one family’s physical and psychological journey through unfamiliar land and culture and developing senses of self in connection to the landscape and disconnection from familiarity. An important theme of the novel is the intersection of different margins, relationships between disparate types of (not) belonging and power, against the socio-political background of ‘white Australia’.
The critical element explores the history of postcolonial (settler) literary theory and whether the inherent themes and considerations are adequate or appropriate for analysing Australian contemporary writing, given Australia’s unique history and landscapes. This contextualises and informs the personal reflections that affected the writing of Dear Gods & Little Fishes. In writing about my own lived (and writerly) experience, I found new elements of experience and understanding. The two elements together are therefore my statement of poetics, reflecting my own identity and voice.
Chapter One focuses on the historical background and landscape of Australian literature and examines its inclusion in the realm of postcolonial literary theory.
Chapter Two considers portrayal of identity and self-identity, with a particular focus on the transcultural, and examines the ‘right’ to tell stories.
Chapter 3 explores ideas of spirituality and connection to place as portrayed in the creative element of the thesis and in the work of other Australian writers.
Finally, Chapter 4 draws together the threads of the discussion and concludes that the reading and writing of Australian literature is best done in full knowledge of the impact of colonisation but not limited by focus through an ageing Postcolonial lens.
- School of Education and Social Policy