Publication Details

Turcotte, G, Re-mastering the Ghosts: Mudrooroo and Gothic Refigurations, in Oboe, A (ed), Mongrel Signatures. Reflections on the Work of Mudrooroo, Rodopi Press, Amsterdam, 2003, 129–151. Original book available here. This copy is a late draft and might contain inconsistencies with the published version.


[Extract] This paper discusses the question of the Gothic mode as it has been used to construct a eurocentric notion of Aboriginality, though its emphasis is on the way the mode has been turned on its head, as it were, by Mudrooroo, to produce an oppositional, revisionist discourse that works to undermine European historiography. The principal examples in this reading will be Master of the Ghost Dreaming (1991) and The Undying (1998), which locate their ghost and vampire tales at the site of the invasion of Australia by Europeans, and around a battle which was frequently effected through missionary activities. Particularly fascinating is Mudrooroo’s rewriting of the ‘conciliating’ efforts of George Augustus Robinson, in what was then called Van Diemen’s Land (until 1855 – now Tasmania), and his disastrous attempts to establish a ‘Friendly Mission’ that would effectively rid the small island of its Aboriginal inhabitants and so leave it free for white settlement. This mission would see the death of most of its inhabitants, including that of “Truganini [...] regarded at the time as ‘the last of her race’.”