Category Archives: literary theory/criticism

Recycling old arguments…

First, let me pay tribute to a wonderful site which I have neglected lately but have just now restored as my home page in Firefox.


It’s a rare day when there isn’t some item of interest there, and it does cast a wide net across a range of views in many disciplines. Given that too many of us tend to read sites we agree with and ignore (or mock) those of a different view, making our web experience something of an echo chamber, that wide net is a bonus.

Indirectly, as you will see in a moment, AL Daily recently sent me to Professing Literature in 2008 in The Nation, that wonderful and venerable American leftish magazine. William Deresiewicz is responding to the reissue, after 20 years, of Professing Literature, Gerald Graff’s history of American English departments.

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Posted by on May 13, 2008 in America, culture wars, curriculum, English studies, future schooling, generational change, literary theory/criticism, web stuff, writers, writing


Wuthering Heights

I mentioned on Lines from a Floating Life that I was rereading Wuthering Heights. I am well into it now, having passed from Volume I to Volume II, and what follows are some very informal reflections.

When I studied the novel for the first time back in 1959 at the age of 15 to 16, my classmates and I were struck by the age of the central characters. Catherine is just 18 when she dies, for example, as is the slightly younger Isabella when she marries Heathcliff, who at that time is 19 or 20. We pointed out to our teacher that we found this very hard to believe, being close to those ages ourselves. Our question was dismissed, of course, but it seems to me still an interesting one, raising the whole question of the invention of adolescence, some issues in which are pursued here and here — from vastly different perspectives, I should add.
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Posted by on March 16, 2006 in book reviews, British, education, Fiction, History, literary theory/criticism, Top read, writers


Today Tonight on 7: Shock Crisis Scumbag Betrayal of OUR Kids Horror

The Shock Crisis Scumbag Betrayal of OUR Kids Horror of the moment on this flagship of manifestly declined standards in Australian television “journalism” — the mix of microstories tonight was as bizarre as anything on Frontline — is an education panic story tantamount to an infomercial (is that the correct spelling of this nonce-word?) on behalf of coaching colleges; for a little while at least, until they get bored with it, as they will, and move on to some new “outrage”, perhaps zoo keepers into bestiality with gorillas while rorting tax payers and diddling pensioners of their life savings.

(I really shouldn’t complain, I suppose, as I get a little return myself in the tuition market. Not enough, mind you.)

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Posted by on February 20, 2006 in Australia and Australian, culture wars, education, immigration, Islam, John Howard, linguistics and language, literacy, literary theory/criticism, media watch, Multicultural, Political, right wing politics, Salt Mine, TV


The Bell Shakespeare Company

It’s a bloody Flash site: a waste of computer power as usual. However, they do a fantastic job on Shakespeare, and this year are offering Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest. Some of the best times I have had in the past five years involve attending Bell productions. According to Google, Kelly, Philippa “Performing Australian Identity: Gendering King Lear”, Theatre Journal – Volume 57, Number 2, May 2005, pp. 205-227 apparently alludes to what I had to say in relation to a non-Bell production of King Lear, part of that series The Rabbit and I saw between September 2002 and September 2004; September 2005 put the kibosh on that, unfortunately.

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Posted by on February 17, 2006 in Australia and Australian, literary theory/criticism, personal, Shakespeare


Revised postcolonial musings

On my Angelfire site I have just had fun revising an item from my 2004 diary on Robinson Crusoe and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (London, Faber & Faber 1999)– the latter I really enjoyed, by the way. [They are now here on WordPress.]

Oh, and there are pics. Some of you might like them.

Related to which, one of my borrowings today from Surry Hills Library is Colonialism and Homosexuality by Robert Aldrich (a University of Sydney historian), London and New York: Routledge, 2003. One of the good things in History in recent years has been history from the margins, or “subaltern” history, which often throws new light on familiar people and events and/or unearths what has been buried. The flat earthists, John Howard for example, don’t like this. This book seems eminently readable and very interesting.

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Posted by on December 28, 2005 in book reviews, Crime and/or crime fiction, Fiction, History, immigration, literary theory/criticism, Postcolonial, Surry Hills


NIDA – Media Releases: Cosi by Louis Nowra

So there is a production I missed! A pity. I just bought a second-hand copy as one of my smaller band of coachees is studying it for the HSC 2006.

First produced in 1992, Cosi has become one of the most popular and successful Australian plays in the last decade. It’s a comedy about illusion and delusion, about eccentricity and being different. “Real madness and angst only occurred when I worked with professional actors” Louis Nowra stated at the time. Cosi is also a brilliant tribute to the transformative power of the theatre.

Set in a mental institution, while the world protests against the madness of the war in Vietnam, a young student, Lewis, takes on the task of directing asylum inmates in production of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte in a burnt out old hall. As these extraordinary ‘patients’ touch his life and his operatic production threatens disaster, Lewis learns that when chasing your dreams it helps to be a little crazy. On one level, Cosi is a poignant look at life through the eyes of people who can’t cope with the real world; on another, it’s a hilarious take on the madness of creative endeavour and the chaotic terror of getting up there on stage and making a fool of oneself.

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Posted by on November 5, 2005 in Australia and Australian, book reviews, education, immigration, literary theory/criticism, Multicultural, OzLit, poets and poetry, writers


Postmodernism and Holocaust Denial :: Robert Eaglestone


pmhols.jpgA pamphlet rather than a book, this is well worth reading in order to clarify thinking, to avoid being trapped in some false dichotomy between “pomo” (bad) and “objectivity” (illusory). I cannot but agree with his summary definition of multiculturalism:

Part of being postmodern is being aware that, as a result of the colonial and post-colonial history of the world, the cultures we inhabit are multicultures. Multicultural societies are not those where different cultures are assimilated into a single culture (although wonderful things come from creative mixing of cultures). Rather, it is a culture of respect and negotiation between different traditions. As I have argued, Holocaust deniers hate this multiculture. [David] Irving certainly does… Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 22, 2005 in book reviews, British, culture wars, Europe, History, Holocaust, Israel, literary theory/criticism, Multicultural, Pomo, racism, right wing politics, Top read, writers