Category: Oz Lit

Francis Webb Commemorative Reading of his Poetry- this Saturday 12 September, 2015.

Hi all, this Saturday afternoon, if you live near Chatswood you might take yourselves off up to the Willoughby Library where there is a special commemorative event on the poet Francis Webb. I will be leading off the readings and discussions since I am the biographer of Francis Webb and have been asked to say…

Late Colonialism in Australian Literature and Art

What a feast of writers and artists we have been digesting in this last week (Page references are to the Macquarie Pen Anthology of Australian Literature):

Ada Cambridge with her wonderfully strident defiance of being a simpering woman subject to male domination. Defying all stereotypes she speaks to her lover: “I may some day love a better man…. And then we must be free to kiss and part” (164). No wonder she was seen as rebellious in her day!

Then we looked at the Über-rebellious Irish Ned Kelly who certainly could string words together when he wanted to make a point about those for whom he had a particular hate (those representatives of the British legal system): “the big ugly fat-necked wombat headed big bellied magpie legged narrow hipped splaw-footed sons of Irish Bailiffs or english landlords which is better known as Officers of Justice or Victorian Police…” (224) and much more!

Then there was Dame Mary Gilmore, one of the few in this period who had a passionate regard for our Indigenous people and a real sense of what we as a community have lost by not taking care of them. Her poem “Australia” is a magnificent tribute to the ancient value of this people (predating all the most ancient civilizations) and containing within their culture the seeds of the beginning of language and poetry:

There was great beauty in the names her people called her,

Shaping to patterns of sound the form of their words;

They wove to measure of speech the cry of the bird,

And the voices that rose from the reeds of the cowal*.

(*Aboriginal word for small, tree-grown swampy depression)


So in their traditions and culture they transformed and transmitted the beautiful voices of nature into song, into language.

We looked also at Henry Lawson, Banjo Paterson and Barbara Baynton, those authors who, in various ways, transformed the experience of Australian settlers into story and song.

And all this was done in the context of our increasing awareness of the iconic art of Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Fred McCubbin, Julian Ashton and others…. what a treat!

Blog Topics for Week 6


  1. “And then we must be free to kiss and part”. Write a short letter or poem that proclaims the kind of personal freedom that Ada Cambridge proposes in this line.

2. Write a brief description of this painting of Ned Kelly. What do you think it is saying about Ned Kelly’s status in the 20th CenturySaint Ned

3. Write a short tribute to Dame Mary Gilmore drawing on any one of her poems (in the Pen Anthology 256-259) to show how important her ideas are to Australians.

4. Find out who the figure behind Dame Mary Gilmore is on the $10 note. What is the artistic significance of this other figure?

5. Henry Lawson or Banjo Paterson? Explain briefly your understanding of why these two authors were so different in their views of the Australian experience.

” They lie, the men who tell us in a loud decisive tone/ That want is here a stranger, and that misery’s unknown”(263)

“There was movement at the station , for the word had passed around…” (246)

6. Create your own topic, basing it around any one of the authors or painters looked at in the Late Colonial section of the unit and linking it to your own personal experience.


And now for the Grand Finale (of this first trawl through Literature Blogs)!

Please find here links to the best third year blogs. These students, most in their third year of literature, are studying “The Visionary Imagination” with a focus on William Blake, Patrick White and David Malouf. Let’s hear a round of applause for the following stars all who got full, or close to full marks!! Emma…

Early Colonialism in Australia

My Hero: Charles Harpur Frank the Poet, Matthew Flinders, Barron Field, Charles Sturt, Eliza Dunlop, Charles Harpur, Henry Kendall, Louisa Anne Meredith, Catherine Helen Spence…. what a great line-up for early colonial Australian writers! These writers revealed many of the core features of the early colonial era: the strange way in which the flora and…

Most Promising First Year Blogs

HI All, here are links to the most promising first year (Oz Lit) Blogs. Enjoy some of this amazing creativity!

Oz Lit Week 2: Bobby Wabalanginy Fights Back!

We had a fabulous time exploring the core differences between the way indigenous Australians and European intruders experience the world around them. Kim Scott has done a fabulous job in using language that in its texture indicates the kinds of experience that his characters have. As a blog topic for next week,  Try to describe…

Welcome to Spring Semester, students in: Oz Lit, Twentieth Century & Visionary Blake

l am very much looking forward to working with you all in these three fabulous units. Oz Lit (otherwise known as Australian Literature) will take us on an amazing tour of the creativity produced in this, our, country over the past 200 years and more… Twentieth Century will engage us with the literature from around…