Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
english masthead
english masthead
Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2009

E 344L • Australian Literature and Film

Unique Days Time Location Instructor

Berry, B

Course Description

Please refer to the course schedule for course days, time, room location, prerequisites and possible cross-listings:

In this course we will study the history, geography, and culture of Australia as reflected in literature and film. We will begin with background lectures on the founding of Australia, its origins as a penal colony, and the question of whether British-colonized Australia was a "gulag," as Robert Hughes maintains in The Fatal Shore, or an early instance of imperial globalism. Turning from the First Fleet (Jan. 26, 1788), we will read a modern text, Robyn Davidson's travel narrative, Tracks (1980), to get a feel for the unique geography of the Outback and the engagement of White Australia with the original inhabitants of this nation, the Aboriginals. Davidson’s feminist perspective on Australia offers irresistible reading. Then we will view the film Walkabout, which provides an excellent visual introduction to landscape, Europeanism, and Aboriginal culture. Then, back to the past, to the 1890s and the creation of an Australian archetype: the Drover’s Wife. We will begin by reading Henry Lawson’s seminal story, “The Drover’s Wife,” and read an amazing sequence of Drover’s Wife stories to the end of the twentieth century, including “The Drover’s De facto,” “The Driver’s Wife,” and “The Wife’s Drover.” Once again, we return to the historical record. Australia’s development of a national identity, the transition from colony to nation, will be grounded in the film Gallipoli (Peter Weir, 1982). From this point we turn to the last seminal moment to be studied in the course, the election of a Labor government in 1972 and the development of a new sense of history, culture, and creativity. In this vein we will read the urban fiction of two of Australia’s most important short story writers, Michael Wilding and Frank Moorhouse; we will also try to sort out the complicated fictional and metafictional exchange taking place between their stories written about each other and the culture of modern Australia. Finally, we will read Kate Jennings’ Snake, a recent novel of great power and intensity that takes us back to the “dead heart”—the arid interior—in the form of a compressed and highly innovative family saga about feminism, masculinity, and Australia. When you’re finished with this course, the inevitable thing to do, I hope, is to book passage to Oz.

Grading Policy

Midterm, 40%; Final, 40%; One short paper, 10%; Attendance & class participation, 10%.


Robyn Davidson, Tracks; Australian Literature & Film (Co-op Packet); Michael Wilding: Selected Stories (Co-op Packet); Frank Moorehouse: Selected Stories (Co-op Packet); Kate Jennings, Snake.


bottom border