Australian Colonialism Part 2: Republicanism, Feminism, Federation and beyond…

Today we looked at Ada Cambridge, Barbara Baynton, Dame Mary Gilmore, Henry Lawson, Banjo Paterson and on and on…. what an extraordinary cast of voices from this period that celebrated Australian independence from England both thematically and linguistically… the opening sentences of “The Drover’s Wife” show beautifully how Lawson has transitioned the language and themes from early colonialism to something more authentically “Strine”:

Nothing to relieve the eye save the darker green of a few sheoaks which are sighing above the narrow, almost waterless creek…. Four ragged, dried-up-looking children are playing about the house…..

So this is an extraordinarily exciting and new moment in Australian literature, both for the range of its radical themes and for the innovations and language and imagery that were appearing- in literature AND in art:


How dare an artist (here Tom Roberts) put a sagging tent and two oddly positioned men, having a billy of tea, into the middle of a “Work of Art”- what license! what proposterousness!!!!

Blog topics for this week:

CREATIVE Write a paragraph of prose in the style of Henry Lawson.

CREATIVE Write a stanza of a poem in the style of Banjo Paterson.

CRITICAL Critically compare Dame Mary Gilmore’s poem “Australia” with Bernard O’Dowd’s poem of the same name.

CRITICAL What does A.D. Hope’s poem Australia (written half a century after the 1890s) add to the debate on what is Australia?

Chose or find a topic of your very own that relates in some way to the themes of this week. Draw on your own experience if you wish. For instance: what is your experience of being a woman compared to Gilmore’s “Eve Song”?



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