Year

2000

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Department of English - Faculty of Arts

Abstract

The grotesque is a constantly changing mode of representation that depends on the artist's particular socio-historic context for its form. In A Dream More Luminous Than Love and The Island in the Mind, Rodney Hall develops a poetics of the grotesque which is applicable to his interrogation of Australia's representation in the "official" archive. From the time that the classical writers began to hypothesise the existence of a continent in the southern hemisphere Terra Incognita was portrayed as a grotesque space inhabited with monstrous beings. This image was compounded in the late eighteenth century when the British discovered the east coast of Australia and colonized it with their own abject body, the convicts and lower classes.

In A Dream More Luminous Than Love and The Island in the Mind, Hall interrogates the discursive construction of the self and Other, and argues that the discrepancies between the image and the object reveal the ideological investments of (neo-) classicism, primitivism and capitalism in the pre-colonial and colonial representations of Australia. The "primitive" is repressed, not eliminated, in the clean and proper body, and Hall disturbs the binary structure of self/Other, civilised/primitive, West/East centre/margin by using the devices of inversion and reversal to locate traits of the grotesque body in the depurated subject. Paradoxically, the proper body is a figure of lack, for which the grotesque Other is the supplement.

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