New Literatures: Australia [2010]



Publication Details

Dale, L. and Tiffin, C. (2012). New Literatures: Australia. The Year's Work in English Studies, 91 (1), 973-996.


Robert Dixon and Nicholas Birns’s Reading across the Pacific: Australia– United States Intellectual Histories can be seen as another stage in Dixon’s project of reframing the study of Australian literature. ‘If Australian literature is now irrevocably imbricated in a wider world, then so should its criticism and historiography [be]’ (p. xvi). The wider world, though, needs some structuring approach, and this gloriously miscellaneous collection of revised conference papers doesn’t really become more than the sum of its parts. That said, there are nodules of convergence around Ralph Waldo Emerson and Transcendentalism, around American publishing of Australian writers, and around Christina Stead’s unpublished writing focused on America. The book also includes a ground-breaking study of Australian novels that feature Elvis Presley and/or Elvis impersonators. The more rewarding of the articles are discussed individually below. The same bold attempt at paradigm shifting is made in Ken Gelder’s ‘Proximate Reading: Australian Literature in Transnational Reading Frameworks’ (JASAL Common Readers and Cultural Critics special issue [2010]), which likewise uses fragmented and eclectic examples to counter the trend of Franco Moretti-inspired ‘distant reading’.

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Link to publisher version (DOI)