The Community Watches Over Them All: A Panoptic View of Life in the Fiction of Olga Masters
The fictional work of Olga Masters primarily focuses on family and domestic life in rural New South Wales between World War I and World War II. This article examines some forms of pernicious oppression and constrictions that overshadowed the lives of the author's characters and, in particular, the constraints enforced upon her female characters. The article explores how the notion of community in the author's fiction prefigures both as pervasive and invasive modes of social power and coercion. Drawing on Michel Foucault's seminal work Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1995), the article contends that the community acts as a collective presence that subjects its members to a form of overarching disciplinary power through the use of constant surveillance, supervision and control.