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The AAALS Newsletter and other news items of interest to AAALS members are published on this page. The most recent items will appear at the top of the page, so please scroll down to read previous postings.


AAALS now maintains a blog, Reading Across the Pacific. Please check the blog frequently for new updates regarding Australasian literature and our organization.


Call for Papers - American Association of Australasian Literary Studies Annual Conference - Washington, DC - Feb. 14-16, 2013

The American Association of Australasian Literary Studies (AAALS) invites paper proposals for its 2013 Annual Conference, to be held in Washington, DC, February 14-16, 2013, in conjunction with ANZSANA (Australian and New Zealand Studies Association of North America). The conference will be held at Georgetown University. An evening reception will be held on February 14, and conference sessions will take place on February 15 and 16. Papers addressing any aspect of Australian, New Zealand and South Pacific literary, film and cultural studies are welcome. Proposals from graduate and undergraduate students are encouraged. Presentations should be 20 minutes long. Please send 250-word proposals by 15 November 2012 to Nathanael O’Reilly, the conference program chair ( Email submissions are preferred. Please label the subject line clearly.

The 29th Annual AAALS conference will be held at Georgetown University, and the conference hotel will be the Georgetown Marriott. The room rate is US$129 per night. A reception will be held on the evening of Thursday, February 14. More details will be posted shortly.


Faye Christenberry's co-authored book, Literary Research and the Literatures of Australia and New Zealand is now available from Scarecrow Press. Details are available here:


Postcolonial Issues in Australian Literature, a collection of essays edited by Nathanael O'Reilly, was recently published by Cambria Press. The book contains thirteen chapters on Australian literature written by scholars from around the world, including Bill Ashcroft, Lyn McCredden and Nicholas Birns. Full details, including the table of contents, are available here.


Nicholas Birns was recently interviewed by Ramona Koval on ABC Radio National about American Australianists, Antipodes and AAALS. You can download the interview here.


Nathanael O'Reilly's first poetry chapbook, Symptoms of Homesickness, was recently published in Australia by Picaro Press. Michelle Cahill, poetry editor for Mascara Literary Review, author of The Accidental Cage (2006) and Ophelia in Harlem (2010), and editor of Poetry Without Borders (2008) writes, "These wonderfully crafted narrative poems capture the diasporic identity, somewhere between home and elsewhere, a metaphor for the unknown. I particularly enjoy their realism, the way in which they evoke the yearning for a reckless, peripatetic youth spent in rural towns, for teenage friendships, mateships, encounters with, or dreams of post-pubescent love. I like the arrangement of the poems too; it’s a fine, understated debut.” Copies can be purchased online from Picaro Press, or directly from the author.


Obituary for Peter Porter

One of Australia's finest poets has passed away. An obituary is available here.


The 2011 AAALS Conference will be held in Fort Worth, Texas, from February 17-19, 2011. The conference will begin with an evening reception on February 17, and the conference sessions will take place on Friday, February 18 and Saturday, February 19. The conference will be held at The Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel, located at 200 Main St., Fort Worth, TX, 76102-3011. The hotel's phone number is (817) 870-1000. The room rate for conference attendees is US$139 per night plus taxes. Reservations must be made by Friday, January 21, 2011.


The Literature of Australia: An Anthology, is now available in the United States from Norton. The Norton website contains the anthology's table of contents and ordering information. 


Obituary for Saul Viener

Saul Viener was a good friend of AAALS. An obituary is available here.


Norton Hosting Reception at MLA to Celebrate Publication of The Literature of Australia

W. W. Norton & Company invites all AAALS members and friends to celebrate the publication of the landmark anthology, The Literature of Australia, at the Modern Language Association convention in Philadelphia.  Join General Editor Nicholas Jose for wine and cheese at the Norton exhibits (Booth #s: 704, 706, 708, 710) on Tuesday, December 29, from 4:00-5:00 pm.


David Callahan's new critical study of the work of Janette Turner Hospital, Rainforest Narratives, has just been published by UQP. More information is available here in PDF format.



AAALS Newsletter – Winter 2008/2009

2009 AAALS Annual Conference in Calgary - Reminder and Updates

A post-conference day-trip to Banff has been arranged with Sun Dog tours. The ten-hour guided tour to Banff and Lake Louise includes sites such as the Banff Springs Hotel, Bow Falls, a trip to the Gondola (for an extra fee), a photo site overlooking the Banff Springs, and a trip to the Hoodoos. The tour company allows some time for shopping and lunch, and will go up to the spectacular Banff Centre if participants so desire. The drive follows the old One A scenic highway to the spectacular Lake Louise, and also takes in Johnson Canyon, which offers the best chances to glimpse wildlife. The cost, depending upon the numbers of participants, will range from 41 to 70 dollars. The website for Sun Dog is and the email contact for the shuttle service is Please contact Donna Coates (dcoates AT if you plan to participate in the tour. AAALS will again meet jointly with ANZSANA in 2009 from February 26-28 in Calgary. The conference will begin with an evening reception at the Best Western Inn on the 26th. Sessions will occur throughout the days on the 27th and 28th, with continental breakfast and luncheons each day. The conference banquet will be held on the evening of the 27th at the Canadian Olympic Park. The conference, except for the opening reception and the banquet, will be at The University of Calgary's Olympic Volunteer Centre, which is adjacent to the University of Calgary campus. The readers for the 2009 conference are Alan Wearne and Jonathan Bennett. The conference hotels are the Best Western Inn (888-774-7716) at CA$109 per night and the Hampton Inn and Suites (888-432-6777) at CA$135.15 for a single and CA$143.65 for a double. The hotels are next to each other, and an easy walk from the Olympic Volunteer Centre. Membership in AAALS is required for presenters of papers. The conference registration fee is US$125. The 2009 Conference Registration Form is available in Microsoft Word format.

Paul Kane’s new collection of Australian poems, A Slant of Light, was published by Whitmore Press in 2008. The collection was reviewed in the October issue of Australian Book Review. The review is available in two PDF files - pages one and two.

Jean-François Vernay’s Water From the Moon: Illusion and Reality in the Works of Australian Novelist Christopher Koch is available from Cambria Press. Details about the book and excerpts from reviews are available at and in a press release available in Word format. Jean François’ conspectus of the Australian novel, Panorama du Roman Australien, will be published in France by Hermann in January 2009. The front cover artwork is by Prudence Flint, a Melbourne-based artist, and the book is being translated into English. Copies can be purchased through the Hermann website.

MLA 2009 CFP: Proposals are invited for the American Association of Australian Literary Studies sessions at the 2009 MLA Convention, to be held December 27-30 in Philadelphia, PA. The “Australian Narratives” session seeks papers focusing on contemporary Australian narratives in any genre, while “Poetry in Australia: The New Lyricism” seeks papers addressing contemporary poetry in Australia. Send 250-word proposals to Nathanael O’Reilly ( by March 1, 2009.

Vivian Smith's poem, "The Real Life of Ern Malley," published in Antipodes vol.22, no.1, 2008, has been selected for publication in Blank Inc.'s anthology Best Australian Poems 2008, edited by Peter Rose.

AAALS Newsletter – Summer 2008

Two faculty members from Emporia State University in Kansas, Dr. Karen Smith (History) and Dr. Rebecca Dobbs (Geography) are leading a travel course to Australia in 2009, entitled The Real Australia: An Interdisciplinary Introduction. Participants will receive undergraduate or graduate credits. Complete details are available in a PDF brochure. The travel course is open to participants who are not students at Emporia State University.


At the 2008 Annual Conference, held in Austin, Texas, new officers of the AAALS were elected. The new officers are:

President: Theodore F. Sheckels (Randolph-Macon College) 

Vice-President: Nathanael O'Reilly (The University of Texas at Tyler) 

Secretary: Peter Mathews (Centenary College) 

Treasurer: Eva Rueschmann (Hampshire College)

AAALS extends its deepest appreciation to Jim Hoy for his service as President and to Robert Zeller for his many years of service as Treasurer.

The AAALS Board is pleased to announce that Terra Walston of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign won The Wertheim Prize for the best graduate student paper at the 2008 conference. Terra presented a paper entitled “Colonial Kin: Affective Bonds in Anthony Trollope’s John Caldigate.

2009 AAALS Conference

AAALS will again meet jointly with ANZSANA in 2009. The dates are February 26-28; the location is Calgary. The conference will begin with an evening reception at the Best Western Inn on the 26th. Sessions will occur throughout the days on the 27th and 28th, with continental breakfast and luncheons each day. The conference banquet will be held on the evening of the 27th. All events, except for the opening reception, will be at the Canadian Olympic Park, which is adjacent to the University of Calgary campus.

A post-conference excursion to Banff is being planned for March 1, so keep that possibility in mind when making your plans.

The two conference hotels are the Best Western Inn (888-774-7716) at CA$109 per night and the Hampton Inn and Suites (888-432-6777) at CA$135.15 for a single and CA$143.65 for a double. The hotels are next to each other, and both are across the street from the Canadian Olympic Park.

The theme for the AAALS portion of the program will be "Australian Classics: Old and New." Papers that reassess older works of literature and film, particularly those with a degree of canonical status, and film are invited, as are papers that focus on more contemporary work thought to have enduring worth. As always, papers on other topics are most welcome: view the theme as providing one focal point for our discussions, not as defining the meeting in its entirely. Paper proposals (250 words) should be submitted by 15 January, 2009, to AAALS President Theodore F. Sheckels at

Paul Kane is the Artistic Director for the 2008 Mildura Writers Festival, which runs from July 15 to July 20, and features writers such as Les Murray, David Malouf, Sonya Hartnett and Alex Miller. For more information, go to Paul will be giving readings this July in Melbourne (at the Australian Poetry Centre) and in Castlemaine (at the Albion Hotel). Paul’s new chapbook, A Slant of Light, was launched on January 15 in Melbourne by Chris Wallace-Crabbe.

A special double issue of the Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies, edited by Gabriella Espak, entitled Revisions of Australia: Histories, Images, Identities, was launched at the University of Debrecen on 9 May 2008. Details of the special issue, including the table of contents, are available here.

Marc Maufort
and David O’Donnell have edited PERFORMING AOTEAROA: NEW ZEALAND THEATRE AND DRAMA IN AN AGE OF TRANSITION: Over the last three decades of the twentieth century, theatre and drama in Aotearoa/New Zealand have experienced remarkable growth. This groundbreaking anthology of essays and interviews attempts to document the diversity of these multiple dramatic voices and performative dimensions, as they reflect the evolving New Zealand identity in an age of transition moving towards twenty-first century globalization. This comprehensive volume comprises a wide range of chapters focusing on key figures in the development of New Zealand theatre and drama, such as, among others, Robert Lord, Ken Duncum, Gary Henderson, Stephen Sinclair, Hone Kouka, Briar-Grace Smith, Jacob Rajan, Lynda Chanwai-Earle, Nathaniel Lees, and Victor Rodger. It is hoped that this volume will shed light on a hitherto neglected field of the canon of English-language drama. By extension, the issues discussed in this anthology will provide new vistas from which to study the postcolonial condition in the wider context of the contemporary Commonwealth. 
Contents: Marc Maufort: Performing Aotearoa in an Age of Transition - David O'Donnell: «Whaddarya?» Questioning National Identity in New Zealand Drama - Christopher Balme: Staging Pan-Polynesian identity at the New Zealand International Exhibition, Christchurch 1906-07 - Murray Edmond: Re-membering the Remembering Body: «Autonomous Theatre» in New Zealand - Bronwyn Tweddle: Where Grotowski Meets Lecoq. «Flow» in Training at Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School - Susan Williams: Advocating Interaction with «the Other»: Robert Lord's Use of the Food Metaphor - William Peterson: Writing into the Land: Dramatic Monologues in the Expanding Landscape of Aotearoa/New Zealand - Marc Maufort: Painful Homecomings: Family Fractures in Contemporary Pakeha Dramaturgies - Telling Pakeha stories. Lisa Warrington Interviews Gary Henderson - «Theatre is the lightning rod». David O'Donnell Interviews Ken Duncum - Stuart Young: Masque(e)rades of Masculinity: Cross-Dressing Women on the New Zealand Stage - Completing the Circle. David O'Donnell Interviews Jean Betts - Te Ahukaramu Charles Royal: Orotokare. Towards a New Model for Indigenous Theatre and Performing Arts - «Let me feel the magic». Hilary Halba Interviews Rangimoana Taylor - David Carnegie/David O'Donnell: Maori Dramaturgy: The Case of Nga Tangata Toa - Hone Kouka: Re-Colonising the Natives: The State of Contemporary Maori Theatre - Marc Maufort: Recapturing Maori Spirituality: Briar Grace-Smith's Magic Realist Stage Aesthetic - Calming the Oceans. David O'Donnell Interviews Briar Grace-Smith - Sharon Mazer: Atamira Dance Collective: Dancing in the Footsteps of the Ancestors - Peter Falkenberg: Theatre of Unease - David O'Donnell: Re-claiming the «Fob»: The Immigrant Family in Samoan Drama - «Everything is family». David O'Donnell Interviews Nathaniel Lees - Lisa Warrington: A Place to Tell Our Stories: Asian Voices in the Theatre of Aotearoa - «Truth is always stranger than fiction». David O'Donnell Interviews Lynda Chanwai-Earle - «We want to create work that's beautiful, funny, sad and true». Lisa Warrington Interviews Jacob Rajan - John Davies: The Audience Are Stones - William Farrimond: Mask, Moko and Memory: Identity through Solo Performance in a Post-colonial World - Trisha Dunleavy: Narratives of Identity: TV Drama Production in New Zealand.
The Editors:
Marc Maufort is a professor of English-language literatures and drama at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium. He has published numerous essays and edited several books on contemporary American and postcolonial drama. His most recent monograph, Transgressive Itineraries: Postcolonial Hybridizations of Dramatic Realism (P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2003, offers a comparative study of contemporary Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand drama. David O'Donnell, a graduate of the University of Otago and Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School, is a senior lecturer in theatre at Victoria University of Wellington. He has published extensively on New Zealand and Pacific drama and is also an award-winning director whose productions include several premieres of recent New Zealand plays.
Practical information:
Brussels: PIE-PETER LANG, 2007, 463 pp., 16 ill.
ISBN 978-90-5201-359-6 (pb)
40.90 EUR, 26.60 GBP, 52.95 USD
Copies can be purchased on line at

Alexis Wright recently won the 2007 Miles Franklin Award for her novel Carpentaria. Frances Devlin-Glass reviewed the novel in the June 2007 issue of Antipodes.

Spring 2007 AAALS Newsletter


Report on 2007 Annual Conference at Georgetown University

By Nicholas Birns


I have been attending AAALS conferences since 1989 and have been to about fifteen or so of the meetings, but the 22nd AAALS conference, held at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, jointly with our social-science colleagues in ANSZANA, was arguably the best yet. A delightful reception at the Australian Embassy set the tone for a convivial, entertaining, and intellectually inspiring weekend. John Scheckter and Ted Sheckels organized a program that was intellectually challenging and they combined with the support staff at Georgetown's Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies to choreograph logistical arrangements that flowed smoothly and efficiently. The theme of Literature and Politics generated a different sort of paper than we have often seen at AAALS--not just, as might have been expected,  more topical than usual, but confronting a broader range of texts. We heard about established authors who have not been the subject of as much critical discussion in the US as they deserve (Kim Scott, Brenda Walker), writers once storied but now undeservingly pushed into the background (Vance Palmer), and younger writers receiving their initial academic treatments (Alexis Wright, A. L. McCann, Tim Richards). We heard of Australian proto-fascists of the 1920s and beleaguered European migrants to the southern continent of the 1940s. We heard challenges to accepted interpretive paradigms on Judith Wright, Patrick White and Jack Davis. Film was also the subject of a few papers, ranging from representations of Japanese-Australian relations to the curious allegorical connections between cane toads and Queensland politicians. In lieu of a visiting Australian writer, our own Paul Kane, who manages to be a vital presence on both the Australian and the US literary scenes, gave a sprightly and moving reading of his poetry. Also combining intellectual depth and lightness of spirit was our keynote address from Library of Congress Australian specialist Arthur Emerson, whose survey of the library's Australian connections also reminded the Americans in the room of their own postcolonial condition. (When much of the Library was lost to fire in 1851, the books had to be replaced with ones purchased from British booksellers--thus an increased emphasis on Australia!). The mixture of old and new faces, the presence both of renowned senior scholars from Australia and Europe and graduate students from the US, promises an auspicious future for the AAALS. Despite the great success of the conference, one does not want to be overly sanguine; as was discussed at the Saturday morning forum on the state of Australian literary studies, there are many obstacles facing us in the immediate future, from the skepticism of popular journalism in Australia to the ever-present institutional challenges. However, the consensus of the conference was that there was not only a way forward, but a very promising one. Hopefully, this promise will continue to be unfolded at our next conference, in Austin, Texas, again in collaboration with ANZSANA, in spring 2008. When I came home, I received the coincidental but happy news that Herbert C. Jaffa, our senior Australianist, had just agreed to donate much of his collection of Australian periodicals to the Special Collections library at Georgetown, thus deepening the Australian presence there already strongly signaled by the presence of the center and holding of the conference. This is a good portent for further consolidation and development in Australian studies in the US.


The AAALS Board is pleased to announce that Hilary Emmett of Cornell University won The Wertheim Prize for the best graduate student paper. Hilary presented a paper entitled "Rhizomatic Kinship in Kim Scott's Benang."


Routledge recently published Race and the Crisis of Humanism, by Kay Anderson, Professor of Cultural Research at the Centre for Culture Research, University of Western Sydney. A detailed description of her book is available in PDF format.


Paul Kane's third collection of poems, Work Life, has just been published by Turtle Point Press in New York.  A number of the poems in the book first appeared in Australian periodicals and have Australian settings, and one, "Teen Town," was included in The Best Australian Poems 2004 (edited by Les Murray).  For more information, go to the following link: Paul also continues as Artistic Director of the Mildura Writers' Festival, which this year features J. M. Coetzee and Inga Glendinnen, among others.  For more information see:


John Scheckter reports that the new issue of Art in America (April 2007: 96-103) contains an interesting article on Aboriginal art, including some discussion of the political and permission issues, and some technical analysis of the paintings. In part, it's a review of an exhibit of paintings by Aboriginal women that was shown in Washington, DC and at Dartmouth College, and was declined by fifty other American museums. The article is too short to deal with problems in depth, but it's a decent overview of the main points.


Membership Renewals Now Due

2007-2008 membership renewal fees are now due. The membership fee includes a subscription to Antipodes, published twice a year. AAALS Membership fees (April to April):

Single Membership - $40

Joint Membership - $50

Retired/Graduate Student - $30

Group/Organization - $60

Overseas: Please add $12 for shipping

Canada: Please add $6 for shipping

Make checks payable to AAALS 

All payments in U.S. dollars 

Include name, address, telephone number, email, and affiliation


Mail to the AAALS Treasurer:  

Robert Zeller

Department of English 

Southeast Missouri State University
1 University Plaza
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
O: (573) 651-2501
Fax: (573) 651-5188 


Alternatively, you can join by e-mail using your credit card. Include the following information in your email to the Treasurer: 

Visa or MasterCard 

Card Number 

Expiration Date 

Click here for a membership form.

We regret that because of the GST we are no longer able to maintain our Sydney account.  Australian members should follow the above instructions.


Please send submissions for the next issue to the Newsletter Editor, Nathanael O'Reilly.

"Brindabella," by Madeleine Byrne (21/10/06)


“I was asleep,” laughed Michael Heyward of Text Publishing when asked his reaction to the news that two of his authors were in the running for the English-speaking literary world’s most prestigious prize, the Man Booker.

“I was asleep and woken by a phone call in the middle of the night,” he said, before adding: “I was completely stunned.”

Not only were Kate Grenville and M.J. Hyland in the final six – marking the first time two Australians were short-listed together – but they were the only Australian women since Madeleine St John almost a decade ago.

None of this would interest their publisher who instead prefers to highlight the writers’ individual novelistic gifts.

“Kate Grenville has been one of the country’s leading novelists for the past twenty years now,” Michael Heyward said. Her novel, The Secret River – winner of this year’s Commonwealth Writer’s Prize -- took the Australian novel in a direction that it had never gone before, he said.

“It’s the first novel to try and describe in detail the encounter between two tribes – one British and one profoundly Australian – who have no way of understanding each other (and) the language that she finds to describe the fact that they had no language in common is extraordinary.”

While M.J. Hyland’s Carry Me Down, was a strikingly “pure” work. In it, Hyland gets inside the head of an awkward, pre-adolescent boy who believes that he is a human lie detector. The Observer called the work “enthralling and absorbing and capable of arousing sympathy to a degree that is almost painful”. 

New York-based Indian novelist, Kiran Desai won for The Inheritance of Loss – a work one of the judges called a globalized novel for a globalized world. This phrase, interestingly enough, also echoed the Melbourne publisher’s perspective on his trade.

In 2004, Text Publishing announced its “alliance” with Britain’s Canongate, which sees it share an impressive stable of authors in the two territories. “The primary point of benefit for both companies,” Heyward said, “is that it allows us to operate in the international rights market in a way that is unprecedented.”

Most contracts if signed in London include UK and Commonwealth rights, where the Australian, New Zealand and South African rights are signed away in what Heyward describes as a very “old-fashioned” and even “colonial” way.

Under the new alliance, Text can offer its authors a global publishing deal where their work is simultaneously published with Canongate in the UK and Grove Atlantic in the United States. 

“The fact that two like-minded independents joined forces in order to preserve their own identities is a new thing,” he said. The hope is that the arrangement will allow the company to punch above its weight. Two authors on the Booker shortlist; not such a bad start.

In May, an unknown writer called “Wraith Picket” sent chapter three of his manuscript, The Eye of the Cyclone, to a group of Australian publishers and agents. Ten rejected the work, with another two not indicating their intentions after more than three months.

“Gotcha,” crowed The Australian newspaper when it revealed that it was behind Australia’s latest literary hoax. Wraith Picket, as you might have guessed, was an anagram of the name of Australia’s Nobel Laureate for Literature, Patrick White, and the extract came from his 1973 novel, The Eye of the Storm.

For anyone interested in Australian literature, the White/Picket affair was bleak to say the least. Critic Kerryn Goldsworthy, for one, could not work out what bothered her most: the “unambiguously, unashamedly and exclusively commercial agenda” of the rejections, the entrapment, or the smugness of those duped.

Literary agent Mary Cunnane recommended White/Picket read David Lodge to improve his style and characterization. Pan Macmillan suggested he join a writers’ centre. While Australian Literary Management’s Lyn Tranter stated baldly: “I am looking at one thing and one thing only – can I sell it? And the answer is no, I can’t sell The Eye of the Storm.”

A few months earlier, The Times in Britain hatched a similar ruse (sending out retyped extracts from two Booker prize-winning novels by Nobel Laureate, V.S. Naipaul and Stanley Middleton) to 20 publishers and agents – all passed on the offer. Seventy-three year-old Naipaul responded to the raft of rejections with considerable sang-froid. “With all the forms of entertainment today there are very few people around who would understand what a good paragraph is,” he said.

None of this cool dominated the Australian aftermath. “Doubtless the Oz will spin the story as more evidence of the fraudulence of sniffy elites and the silly old publishers who wouldn’t know a Nobel Prize if it bit them on the bum,” wrote Jeff Sparrow on Rather it showed the way commercial imperatives dominated in the Australian literary scene and what happened when you reduced a culture to market forces, he argued.

Michael Heyward, from Text, was the only person to express any regret amid the self-justification and mockery of Patrick White that ensued post-disclosure. It was disappointing nobody picked it, he said, but proved nothing aside from the fact that few read White (or Henry Handel Richardson; Martin Boyd; Christina Stead).

To blame are the universities which rarely consider teaching Australian fiction as part of their curriculums. “The way that literature is taught at a tertiary level has betrayed so many great Australian writers,” Heyward said. “These books ought to be basic to the literacy of an Australian interested in the literary arts of this country,” he said. Ultimately this cultural forgetting reflects a kind of “philistine reflex” on behalf of the universities, which significantly does not extend to the general public (just take a look at all the interest in the Booker, he said).

David Malouf, librettist for Richard Meale’s opera of Voss, was also dismayed at the hoax. “It seems extraordinary to me that no one would recognize the highly mannered style, even if they hadn’t read a previous novel of Patrick White’s,” he said in an interview.

“If most of the people who are working in the publishing world these days don’t read Patrick White or have never read Patrick White, then that tells us something about the deficiencies of our publishing industry.”

In answer to a question about the local versus the metropolitan, national versus international and its relevance for Kate Grenville and M.J. Hyland, Michael Heyward said simply: “I don’t think that way.”

Such rigid binary oppositions were largely an invention of the media, he said. Everyone else just wants to read good books. Singling out Australian bookstores for their excellence and the Australian public’s extremely high rate of consumption of books per capita, he said that “Australians just follow their noses when it comes to what they want to read”.

Problems lay on the publishers’ side, if anything. “There’s no doubt that we have outstanding readers in this country and I think we have outstanding readers,” he said. “There is a disconnect between the sophistication of our writing and reading culture and the sophistication of our publishing culture. That’s where the work needs to be done.”

Indeed, one heartening aspect of the White/Picket hoax was the response of readers in online forums. One, dubbing herself Laura of Sarasparilla set up a Patrick White Readers’ Group ( Others vented their spleen at the arrogance of agents in their self-designated role as literary “gate-keepers”. Many more complained that few Australian novels meant much to non-Baby Boomer readers (and quoted lyrics from the English band, The Smiths, “the music they constantly play says nothing to me about my life”).

Another dismissed the lack of originality in publishing circles which leads to an eternal return of faded bestsellers (books where “bourgeois twits have their one year in Provence; quirky travel books by ex-journos that say nothing much about anything except themselves; heart-rending but colourful family histories over three generations; 57 varieties of serial killers; interminable police procedurals.”)

The virtue of being small and independent, said Michael Heyward, is that you can take risks. Yet, despite a marked resurgence in low-fi publishing, particularly in Heyward’s home town of Melbourne with Scribe, Black Inc, Melbourne University Publishing and Hardie-Grant, too few books appeared under too few imprints.

“If you think of publishing as a kind of ecology, obviously you need many different species of plants to have a healthy forest,” he said.    

Fall 2006 AAALS Newsletter


The 2007 AAALS Conference will be held at Georgetown University in Washington, DC from March 22-24.


Conference Theme: Literature and Politics


In response to the location of the 2007 conference and our third conjoined meeting with ANZSANA, papers are sought on all aspects of the topic, including literary responses to:


domestic or foreign policy

domestic or global economics

cultural politics

diplomacy and war


nationalism and internationalism

international organizations and NGOs

sport/s and popular culture

patriotism and patriot acts

expatriates, exiles, and refugees

Australia and the Commonwealth

Australia and the United States

Australia and Asia

Australia and the Middle East


Papers on similar topics in film, music, and folklore are also welcome, as are discussions of New Zealand and the South Pacific region. Presentations should be 20 minutes long. Please send 250-word proposals by 31st December 2006. Email submissions are preferred, but please label the subject line clearly.


John Scheckter

2007 AAALS Program Chair

English Department

C. W. Post Campus

Long Island University

Brookville, NY 11548


The President’s Report

As fellow members of AAALS know, I have a strong interest in things pastoral (Australian definition). Our first visit Down under, back in 1990, included a visit to the University of Western Australia, where Bruce Bennett was then teaching. I don’t recall if it was Bruce or another member of the faculty, but someone asked if I had read Such Is Life. It was, I was told, the classic novel of the Outback. Perhaps a bit difficult to comprehend at first encounter. A new annotated edition, however, in the works.


I picked up a copy to add to our extra suitcase, already heavy with books, then spent much of the rest of that sabbatical semester working my way slowly and with no little difficulty through an edition that was decidedly not annotated. It was worth the effort; I understood station life, boundary riders, bullockies, swagmen, narangys, well sinkers, and other assorted figures of the Outback much better than even the stories of Lawson, the poems of Paterson, and the songs of Ted Egan could teach (and they teach a lot).


Since then I have taught the novel some four times, the last two with the Halstead Press annotated version. Even with the annotations, my students (and I) find it an often hard go, but those who stick with it find themselves (as I do, each time I reread it) caught up by the narrative, at once straightforward and complex, and they delight in the unveiling (so to speak) of Nosy Alf, when everything finally becomes clear (or at least more clear) at the end. This semester, in a class dominated by graduate students, most of them much more conversant with post-modern literary theories of one kind or another than am I, I have been struck by their comments on the prescient sophistication of the novel’s structure. The rampant literary allusions, the seemingly inconsequential details that come together in unexpected combinations, the mix of an obvious realistic plot combined oh so subtly with a romantic one, the introspective, self-referential persona of Tom Collins*they see here not just a compendium of the outback, but a meta-fiction, a post-structuralist sensibility that makes Furphy’s narrative style, though not its content, surprisingly contemporary. I would love to read an analysis of the novel by someone steeped in deconstruction, new historicism, semiotics, or any of the isms that have supplanted New Criticism in the past few decades.


The above musings arise from the sad fact that the study of Australian literature, in this country and apparently in Australia, as well, is in decline. I think that Furphy and other classic Australian writers, as well as the excellent antipodean writers of today, can be every bit as rewarding to read and to study from a contemporary literary-theoretical viewpoint (as opposed to my own interest in their cultural and historical content) as those of any other culture or country. I’m sure the pendulum will swing back to that part of the southern hemisphere. With the efforts of AAALS and ASAL, that shift, I hope, will occur sooner rather than later.


Jim Hoy

Emporia State University


Antipodes Praised in Australian Book Review

The August 2006 issue of Australian Book Review contains a favorable review of Antipodes by Melinda Harvey, entitled “A Rare Foreign Eye.” Harvey’s review focuses on Antipodes 19.2 (Dec. 2005), the special issue on the Sacred in Australian Literature guest edited by Bill Ashcroft, Frances Devlin-Glass and Lyn McCredden.


John Scheckter reports that Granta 95 (Fall 2006), the recent issue, has two items by Australian writers. "Mao comes to Sydney" is Georgia Blain's memoir of a putatively privileged childhood, an extract from her forthcoming volume "Births, Deaths, Marriages." David Malouf's story "Every Move You Make" is the title story of a collection that will appear in 2007.


Report on the 2006 ASAL Conference by Robert Zeller

This past July I traveled to Perth to attend the annual conference of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature. It was held at the new University Club on the campus of the University of Western Australia, ably organized by Tanya Dalziell of UWA and Paul Genoni of Curtin. Unlike the past couple of ASAL meetings I’ve been to, this one was well attended, with an especially strong postgrad turnout. Two of the plenary sessions had a political focus, with the Dorothy Green Lecture delivered by former WA Premier and current MP Carmen Lawrence and a special session featuring a conversation with Gough Whitlam. The theme of this year’s conference was Spectres, Screens, Shadows, Mirrors, and most of the presenters I heard at the concurrent sessions managed to relate to it in some way. In general, I found the quality of the presentations to be high. In keeping with the trend of recent conferences, cultural studies approaches to contemporary writing and film predominated. However, several presenters discussed the poetry of Judith Wright, and there was even a paper (by Susan Martin) on Such is Life. Also on the program were papers on Charles Harpur, Henry Handel Richardson, Christopher Brennan, and Marcus Clarke, among other canonical authors. Among the concurrent sessions I attended, I particularly enjoyed Chris Lee’s paper on H.S. Gullett’s volume in The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, in which he analyzed the account of the ANZAC experience in Palestine as a twentieth-century Crusade narrative; CA Cranston’s disquisition on water tanks, with special reference to Jack Hibberd’s play A Stretch of the Imagination; and the presentation by postgrad Julieanne Lamond of the University of Sydney on Dad Rudd’s transformation from the Steele Rudd stories into a politician on film, particularly the Capra-esque Dad Rudd, M.P. of 1940. At the Annual General Meeting, it was decided to add representatives from the UK and the US to the ASAL Executive. Maybe because we were there, Ian Henderson and I were chosen to fill those positions. Next year’s conference will be held in Brisbane July 1-4 at the University of Queensland.


Cambridge Scholars Press Publishes Thea Astley’s Fictional Worlds, edited by Paul Genoni and Susan Sheridan

Paul Genoni (Curtin University of Technology) and Susan Sheridan (Flinders University) have edited a collection of essays on Thea Astley, entitled "Thea Astley's Fictional Worlds," published by Cambridge Scholars Press. Genoni and Sheridan’s book is the first dedicated to Astley's work. The collection consists of several pieces by Astley, a number of previously published essays, plus several new pieces. It includes contributions from North American academics, including Robert Ross.

Paul Kane attended, as Artistic Director, the twelfth Mildura Writers' Festival, July 20-23 (see: Guest writers included Helen Garner, Marion Halligan, Les Murray, Barry Hill, Ivor Indyk, and a dozen others.  He also gave a poetry reading in Canberra, August 8, in a series run by Geoff Page, Poetry at The Gods. Recent publications include poems in Quadrant, ABR (Australian Book Review) and Space. While in Australia, he completed a house he has been building on an old volcano in rural Victoria, near Clunes.


David McCooey's Blister Pack (Salt Publishing) was recently awarded the Mary Gilmore Award for a first book of poems. The award was presented at the recent ASAL conference at the University of Western Australia in Perth. The judges' comments: Like its evocative use of an everyday object as a title, the judges found Blister Pack to be witty, elegant and inventive. McCooey's supple verse marks out a distinctive poetic terrain between the satirical and the elegiac, the public and the intimate. It is humour - too often a rarity in contemporary Australian poetry - that reclaims these often very sombre poems from their own darkness, and gives them brilliance along with depth.


New Head for Literature Board (from the AustLit News August/September 2006)
Dr Imre Salusinszky has been appointed Chair of the Australia Council's Literature Board for a three-year term. Dr Salusinszky has previously been head of the English Department at the University of Newcastle and has lectured at the University of Melbourne and at Yale. Since 2003 he has been the Australian newspaper's New South Wales political reporter and a regular columnist. Speaking of his appointment Dr Salusinszky said, 'It's an opportunity to advance the promulgation, dissemination and development of Australian literature, something that I have been involved in for 15 years before I returned to full-time journalism with the Australian in 2003. I know the appointment will be regarded as controversial by some, but in an organisation such as this, few things are more valuable than fresh approaches, fresh ideas and new energies.' (Weekend Australian, 17-18 June 2006) Dr Salusinszky has previously served on the committee of Literature Board (1982-1984). He takes over the role of Chair from Dr Peter Goldsworthy.


Dixon Appointed to Sydney Chair (from the AustLit News August/September 2006)
Professor Robert Dixon, currently Professorial Fellow at the School of Australian Studies, University of Queensland, has been appointed Professor of Australian Literature, University of Sydney. Professor Dixon takes the Chair following the retirement of Professor Elizabeth Webby. In his new role, Professor Dixon will join the AustLit Advisory Board. Professor Dixon's research interests include Australian literature and literary criticism, Australian cultural studies, and colonialism and its culture. He has written Prosthetic Gods : Travel, Representation and Colonial Governance (2001) and co-edited Authority and Influence : Australian Literary Criticism 1950-2000 (2001). Professor Dixon's current projects are an illustrated edition of photographer Frank Hurley's diaries, and the book 'Travelling Mass-Media Circus : The Spectacular Career of Frank Hurley'. These will be published by Melbourne University Press in 2006 and 2007.


Many thanks to Kerry Kilner for permission to reprint the pieces from AustLit News – Nathanael O’Reilly, AAALS Newsletter Editor


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