Teaching Day 3: Australian Literature

In today’s lecture we explored the ways in which 20th Century Australian artists and writers have, to some extent, fulfilled the “prophecy” of Marcus Clarke, namely that “the dweller in the wilderness” would learn to understand the subtle beauty of the Australian landscape. What we discovered was that this meant a whole range of things about shifting attitudes, not only to landscape, but also to indigenous inhabitants. Judith Wright and Russell Drysdale represent a new conscience in this country, one that sees the need to care for the land AS IS IT IS rather than exploiting it for all it is worth. This opened up some discussion about how Australia is potentially a place which could challenge the power-hungry materialism of Western Culture. Here is the place- in the desert, in the bush- where human beings could discover a new way of being alive…. a kind of baptism of the desert!
But it was also noted that while the artists and writers and musicians in our country are often a kind of conscience for the rest of us…. do we really listen to them…. or is Australia being drawn ever more deeply into the web of the multi-national corporations…
Where do we stand as individuals in the face of this question?

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