Narrative DissemiNation of the Land of Oz

Instructor: Assoc. Prof. Iva Polak
ECTS credits: 6
Language: English
Status: elective
Semester: 2 or 4
Enrolment requirements:
enrolment in any graduate studies of the English Department

Course description: Selected literary and cinematic texts from the 2nd half of the 20th cent. are studied in the light of contemporary reinscriptions of Australian identity. Issues such as colonialism and postcolonialism,  mainstream vs. margin, history vs. story, are discussed to show complexities of Australian national identity formation and its contemporary renderings. Due to the relative remoteness of Australian space, the course includes a survey Australian cultural history as well as a survey of the culture of the First Australians.
Objectives: The aim is to awaken students’ awareness of some of the distinctive features of Australian contemporary literature and cinema as well as to show the necessity of a different approach to Aboriginal texts due to their culture-specific content.
Course requirements: the final grade is based on continuous assessment which includes regular attendance, preparation for and participation in class, writing small assignments, timely submission of the final paper, and obligatory sitting for midterm and endterm exams. The paper is worth 35%, midterm and endterm exam are worth 50% and other elements of continuous assessment are worth 15% of the final grade. Students must fulfill all elements of continuous assessment.
The exact date of the mid-term exam is defined in cooperation with the students.
Themes for the main written assignment (student paper) are selected during week 8.

Week by week schedule:

Week 1
Introducing the nation:  Colonial and Postcolonial History of Australia: a survey of key historical moments
Week 2
A Historical Survey: continued
Alternative histories: dissemiNation
Homi K. Bhabha: “DissemiNation: Time, narrative and the margins of modern nations” in The Location of Culture
Benedict Anderson. “Introduction” in Imagined Communities
Introduction of key theoretical terms from Post-Colonial Studies: The Key Concepts

Week 3
DissemiNation of the past and present
Michel Foucault.  “Of Other Spaces” in Heterotopia and the City
John Marsden and Shaun Tan. The Rabbits (1998) (graphic book)
Shaun Tan. The Arrival.  (2006) (graphic novel)
Bruce Sterling. “Slipstream 2” in Science Fiction Studies

Week 4
The Arrival: cont.
Chasing Asylum (2016) documentary BBC4 Storyville series, dir.  Eva Orner
Week 5
DissemiNation of the future
The Rover (2014) dir. David Michôd
Week 6
DissemiNation of Contemporary “Australianness”:  New Australian middleclass
Christos Tsiolkas. The Slap (2009)
Week 7
The Slap cont.
Week 8
Midterm (45min)
Introduction to Aboriginal Australia: a precolonial-postcolonial-neocolonial survey
Week 9
Introduction to Aboriginal Australia cont.
Contact (2009) documentary
Cannibal Story (2013) animated short
Christine Nicholls. “‘Dreamtime’ and ‘The Dreaming’ – an introduction” (2014)
Christine Nicholls. “Dreaming and place – Aboriginal monsters and their meanings” (2014)
Week 10
DissemiNation of Contemporary Aboriginality: humour and contemporary moment
Gayle Kennedy. Me, Antman & Fleabag (2007)
Week 11
DissemiNation of Contemporary Aboriginality: humour and trauma
Louis Nowra. Radiance (1993). (play)
Radiance (1998) dir. Rachel Perkins
Week 12
DissemiNation of Contemporary Aboriginality: humour and resilience
Charlie’s Country (2014) dir. Rolf de Heer
Week 13
Final discussion

Week 14
Endterm exam (45min)

Fiction
John Marsden and Shaun Tan. The Rabbits (1998) (graphic novel)
Shaun Tan. The Arrival (2006) (graphic novel)
Christos Tsiolkas. The Slap (2009) (novel)
Gayle Kennedy. Me, Antman & Fleabag (2007) (novel)
Louis Nowra. Radiance (1993) (play)

Feature films:
The Rover (2014) dir. David Michôd
Cannibal Story (2013) animated short
Radiance (1998) dir. Rachel Perkins
Charlie’s Country (2014) dir. Rolf de Heer

Documentaries:
Chasing Asylum
(2016) dir.  Eva Orner
Contact (2009)

Criticism:
– Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. Reflection on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Revised Edition. London/New York: Verso. 2006. (excerpts)
– Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin Eds. Post-Colonial Studies: The Key Concepts. London/New York: Routledge, 2002. (selected terms)
– Ashcroft, Bill. “Is Australian Literature Post-Colonial?”.  Modern Australian Criticism and Theory. Eds. David Carter and Wang Guanglin. Qingdao: China Ocean University Press. 2010: 1-13.
– Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture. London and New York: Routledge. 2004 (1994) (excerpts)
– Holt, Lillian. “Aboriginal humour: A conversational corroboree”. Serious Frolic: Essays on Australian Humour. Eds. Fran De Groen and Peter Kirkpatrick, St Lucia, Queensland: UQP, 2009: 81-94.
– Milner Davis, Jessica “ ‘Aussie’ humour and laughter: Joking as an acculturating ritual”. Serious Frolic: Essays on Australian Humour. Eds. Fran De Groen and Peter Kirkpatrick, St Lucia, Queensland: UQP, 2009: 31-47.
– Nicholls, Christine. “‘Dreamtime’ and ‘The Dreaming’ – an introduction”. A Year in Life of Australia. The Conversation. Ed. The Conversation, Sydney: Future Leaders. 2014: 77-82.
– Nicholls, Christine. “Dreaming and place – Aboriginal monsters and their meanings”. A Year in Life of Australia. The Conversation. Ed. The Conversation, Sydney: Future Leaders, 2014: 82-91.

Additional critical editions:
– Banerjee, Bidisha. “Kinship between ‘companion species’: A posthuman refiguration of the immigrant condition in Shaun Tan’s The Arrival”. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 2016: 1-15.
– Casey, Maryrose. “Bold, Black, and Brilliant: Aboriginal Australian Drama”. A Companion to Australian Aboriginal Literature. Ed. Belinda Wheeler. Rochester, New York: Camden House. 2013: 155-171.
– Farca, Paula Anca. “Humour in Contemporary Adult Fiction.” A Companion to Australian Aboriginal Literature. Ed. Belinda Wheeler. Rochester, New York: Camden House. 2013: 125-138.
– Ommundsen, Wenche. “Work in Progress: Multicultural Writing in Australia”. Modern Australian Criticism and Theory. Eds. David Carter and Wang Guanglin. Qingdao: China Ocean University Press, 2010: 243-257.
– Sterling, Bruce. “Slipstream 2”. Science Fiction Studies, 38:1, 2011: 6-10.
– Verevis, Constantine. “ ‘Whose side are you on?’ The Slap (2011/2015)”, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 29:5, 2015: 769-779.

All textual and audio-visual materials are provided in electronic form.