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A Companion to Australian Aboriginal Literature


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Australian Aboriginal literature, once relegated to the margins of Australian literary studies, now receives both national and international attention. Not only has the number of published texts by contemporary Australian Aboriginals risen sharply, but scholars and publishers have also recently begun recovering earlier published and unpublished Indigenous works. Writing by Australian Aboriginals is making a decisive impression in fiction, autobiography, biography, poetry, film, drama, and music, and has recently been anthologized in Oceania and North America.
Until now, however, there has been no comprehensive critical companion that contextualizes the Aboriginal canon for scholars, researchers, students, and general readers. This international collection of eleven original essays fills this gap by discussing crucial aspects of Australian Aboriginal literature and tracing the development of Aboriginal literacy from the oral tradition up until today, contextualizing the work of Aboriginal artists and writers and exploring aspects of Aboriginal life writing such as obstacles toward publishing, questions of editorial control (or the lack thereof), intergenerational and interracial collaborations combining oral history and life writing, and the pros and cons of translation into European languages.

Contributors: Katrin Althans, Maryrose Casey, Danica Cerce, Stuart Cooke, Paula Anca Farca, Michael R. Griffiths, Oliver Haag, Martina Horakova, Jennifer Jones, Nicholas Jose, Andrew King, Jeanine Leane, Theodore F. Sheckels, Belinda Wheeler.

Belinda Wheeler is Assistant Professor of English at Claflin University, Orangeburg, SC.


[C]hallenges the very notion of literature itself . . . . [I]nsist[s] on the literary quality and seriousness of Australian Aboriginal texts . . . . [H]ighly recommended. . . . [F]ills a large gap in Asia-Pacific literary and cultural studies. It will be of benefit to teachers and students, artists and critics, scholars and general readers, the indigenous and non-indigenous. PACIFIC ASIA INQUIRY

This comprehensive anthology gives students and beginning researchers a clear overview of the issues at play in indigenous Australian literature today. . . . Handsomely produced and well indexed, this volume is a substantial contribution to the literature. . . . Highly recommended. CHOICE

In its root meaning, to be a companion is to share bread, the source and sustenance of life, and to so nurture friendship, kinship, and loyalty. Belinda Wheeler's A Companion to Australian Aboriginal Literature presents a wealth of companionable writing on Aboriginal literature, which is today perhaps the most recently emerged English language literary canon, one that is all the more compelling for being an expression of the oldest surviving human culture on the planet. The essays in this volume offer new and compelling readings of Aboriginal fiction, poetry, and plays, examining popular subgenres and themes such as songpoems, life writing, humor, young adult fiction, Aboriginal cinema, and music, as well as the translation of Aboriginal literature for a growing world readership. It provides both scholars and the general reader with a range of fresh, well-researched, and engagingly written essays on the best Aboriginal writing and its social, political, and cultural dimensions. I highly recommend this book. --Dr. Peter Minter, University of Sydney

[C]onfirms the establishment of offshore communities of reading for Australian Indigenous writing. . . . Wheeler's references to the publication of Heiss and Minter's Anthology of Australian Aboriginal Literature as well as Nicholas Jose's edition of The Literature of Australia in both the Oceania and North American markets in her introduction . . . contextualises Australian Aboriginal literature in relation to other indigenous cultures including African, North American and First Nations. Highly recommended. --Gillian Whitlock, University of Queensland


First Published: 01 Aug 2013
13 Digit ISBN: 9781571135216
Pages: 240
Size: 9 x 6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Camden House
Subject: Modern Literature

Details updated on 26 Mar 2015


  • 1  Foreword
  • 2  Acknowledgments
  • 3  Introduction: The Emerging Canon
  • 4  Chronology
  • 5  Indigenous Life Writing: Rethinking Poetics and Practice
  • 6  Australian Aboriginal Life Writers and Their Editors: Cross-Cultural Collaboration, Authorial Intention, and the Impact of Editorial Choices
  • 7  Contemporary Life Writing: Inscribing Double Voice in Intergenerational Collaborative Life-Writing Projects
  • 8  European Translations of Australian Aboriginal Texts
  • 9  Tracing a Trajectory from Songpoetry to Contemporary Aboriginal Poetry
  • 10  Rites/Rights/Writes of Passage: Identity Construction in Australian Aboriginal Young Adult Fiction
  • 11  Humor in Contemporary Aboriginal Adult Fiction
  • 12  White Shadows: The Gothic Tradition in Australian Aboriginal Literature
  • 13  Bold, Black, and Brilliant: Aboriginal Australian Drama
  • 14  The "Stolen Generations" in Feature Film: The Approach of Aboriginal Director Rachel Perkins and Others
  • 15  A History of Popular Indigenous Music
  • 16  Notes on the Contributors
  • 17  Note on the Cover Artist
  • 18  Index

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