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John Docker

John Docker

John Docker is a literary critic and academic with a particular interest in contemporary theories of culture, identity, and diaspora. He is the author of studies such as Australian Cultural Elites (1974), Postmodernism and Popular Culture (1994), and 1492: The Poetics of Diaspora. His most recent book is a three-volume memoir, Growing up Communist and Jewish in Bondi (2021).

John Docker reviews 'Power and Protest: Movements for change in Australian society' by Verity Burgmann

May 1993, no. 150 12 August 2022
Verity Burgmann’s Power and Protest is an evocation of the major social movements that have arisen and thrived in Australia since the late 1960s, the black, women’s, lesbian and gay, peace and green movements. The writer is a well-known historian of Australian radicalism as well as a political scientist, and in combining history and politics she joins other social scientists such as Terry Irvi ... (read more)

John Docker reviews 'Narrative Exchanges' by Ian Reid

December 1992, no. 147 01 December 1992
Ian Reid’s Narrative Exchanges argues against older formalist and structuralist approaches to narratology, from Propp to Todorov. They reduced the play of narrative by insisting that texts possess an underlying fundamental ground, a ‘basic unity’ that is the ‘primary constituent of narrative’. Structuralism treats texts as self-contained semiotic systems, emphasising consistency, lineari ... (read more)

'Religion – Who Doesn’t Need It?' by John Docker

October 2000, no. 225 01 October 2000
It’s usually said that Australians are uninterested in the metaphysical. Where in America the lines between the secular and religious are notoriously blurred, not least in their politicians or sporting heroes invoking God on almost every conceivable occasion, Australians by contrast are held to be a godless lot, their mythologies entirely secular in form and meaning. God is rarely publicly invok ... (read more)

John Docker reviews 'Greene on Capri: A memoir' by Shirley Hazzard

October 2000, no. 225 01 October 2000
Why I’m gripped by this book I don’t know. Well, I do know. When I was in Vietnam late last year, on a gourmet tour, I purchased a pirated copy of Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, my first Greene novel. (Why I hadn’t read Greene before I also don’t know, though I’d loved his wonderfully bizarre script for The Third Man.) In Saigon I took green tea in the Hotel Continental, imagining ... (read more)

Symposium | Are there gangsters and gatekeepers dominating public space?

November 1997, no. 196 01 November 1997
John Docker Mark Davis’ Voltairean Gangland is one of those rare books that prise open a space for revaluation of the direction of a culture. Like The Dunciad’s evocation of the Grub Street hacks of its time, Gangland exposes tentacular networks of chummy patronage, mutual puffery, and cultural power. Gangland is especially enjoyable on the clown-like behaviour of the ex-Scripsi diaspora – ... (read more)