Degree Name

Master by Research


School of English Literatures and Philosophy


In this thesis, anti-American sentiment is examined in Australian literature from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The works include Rolf Boldrewood’s Robbery Under Arms, first published as a serial in The Sydney Mail beginning in 1882, George Johnston’s My Brother Jack, published in 1964, and Andrew McGahan’s Underground published in 2006. It is argued that all of these texts are set in, and reflect popular attitudes during periods of massive social change, which will be referred to as “pressure points.” These pressure points include the Gold Rush, the years leading up to and including World War Two, and the Post-9/11 era. Drawing on this understanding, this thesis provides an historical and political background of the relationship between Australia and America as a framework for drawing out the anti-American sentiment in the aforementioned works of Australian literature. The thesis examines commonly held perceptions about Americans in the time periods specified, showing that resistance to American influence was often based on negative perceptions, which may or may not have been accurate.

All of these texts can be read as an affirmation that there was resistance to American influence in Australia. Moreover, it is argued that the texts represent a reaction to the major respective social changes taking place in Australia, for which the United States seems to be a driving force. This resistance to American influence is dependent upon the ideal that Australia has a unique and “traditional” identity, which in spite of this belief emerges as a fluid identity. In all of the novels, the way forward, the way to a better Australia, is portrayed as a step backwards to a time in which, it was believed, America did not have as great an influence on Australia.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.