Imagining Australia: Literature and culture in the new new world edited by Judith Ryan and Chris Wallace-Crabbe

Reviewed by
May 2005, no. 271
Lisa Gorton reviews 'Imagining Australia: Literature and culture in the new new world', edited by Judith Ryan and Chris Wallace-Crabbe

Imagining Australia: Literature and culture in the new new world

edited by Judith Ryan and Chris Wallace-Crabbe

Harvard University Press, $59.95 hb, 399 pp

Imagining Australia: Literature and culture in the new new world edited by Judith Ryan and Chris Wallace-Crabbe

Reviewed by
May 2005, no. 271

Imagining Australia collects nineteen essays from a 2002 conference on Australian literature and culture at Harvard University. Of course, as the proceedings of a conference, it is on occasion hard work. There is something about conferences – the dedication of their audiences, perhaps, or the vulnerability of their speakers – that encourages a somewhat defensive formality. That said, almost every essay in this collection repays a reader’s investment with interest: in describing the history of Australian literary journals; offering a new direction for Australian pastoral poetry; providing surprising perspectives on popular Australian myths; or looking at how contemporary poets use form.

As these examples suggest, Imagining Australia has no overriding theme or approach; this is perhaps why it appeals. It includes broad surveys and detailed studies, academic arguments and genial narratives. With this variety, it complicates and enlivens one’s sense of Australia’s history.

Lisa Gorton reviews 'Imagining Australia: Literature and culture in the new new world', edited by Judith Ryan and Chris Wallace-Crabbe

Imagining Australia: Literature and culture in the new new world

edited by Judith Ryan and Chris Wallace-Crabbe

Harvard University Press, $59.95 hb, 399 pp

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