The 1890s in Australian Literature

We had a wild ride through all the amazing characters who made up Australian Literature at the end of the 19th Century. Despite the dominance of mateship and a proud masculine ethos there were in fact many fine women writers who challenged the stereotypes imposed by the men of the time:


Each of these authors managed to represent women’s experience as a discomforting challenge to the world of male domination. Ada Cambridge in her poems “Seeking” and “An Answer” and in her story “The Wind of Destiny” challenges conventional romantic view on marriage. Barbary Baynton in her story “The Chosen Vessel” creates a dramatic account of what women actually have to face in the Australian outback- a real challenge to Henry Lawson’s more sentimentalized view as presented in “The Drover’s Wife”. Lastly Dame Mary Gilmore shows men at their worst in her post WWI poem “The Measure” in which she forces all humans to consider what it is that drives our reactive life on this planet.

Blog questions arising from today’s encounters.

1/ Create your own Blog topic based on some text, theme or idea that stirred your imagination in today’s classes.

2/ Chose any one of the questions on the Question Sheet from today’s classes and work that into a blog response to today’s authors. For example

2a:  With reference to Mary Gilmore’s “Eve Song”, what is the meaning and force of the repeated phrase “I span and Eve span”?

2b:  With reference to Mary Gilmore’s “The Measure”, what is the meaning of the title “The Measure”?

2c: With reference to Bernard O’Dowd “Australia”, what predictions does the poem have for our future. Have these predictions been realized?


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