Ilana Snyder reviews 'Required Reading: Literature in Australian schools since 1945' edited by Tim Dolin, Joanne Jones, and Patricia Dowsett

At the heart of Required Reading is a database called ALIAS (Analysis of Literature in Australian Schools). It includes all the reading material prescribed for senior secondary English and Literature courses in most of the states from 1945 to 2005. Like all electronic databases, ALIAS comprises a structured collection of items to view, navigate, and search. To make meaning from these items they need to be framed in narrative terms. This is precisely what the chapters in this book achieve in the most interesting ways.

The editors of Required Reading invited leading authors in the fields of English and literary studies to use ALIAS to track and understand postwar changes in senior secondary school English and literature courses. By selecting, juxtaposing, and connecting items in the database, the contributors have created narratives about the texts set as literature in senior classrooms. The narratives are invested with the authors’ knowledge of curriculum histories, theories and practices of teaching, and histories of literary criticism and theory. The book represents the first large-scale study of what was set on English syllabuses in Australia and in which disciplinary, institutional, socio-historical, and pedagogical contexts.

Read the rest of this article by purchasing a subscription to ABR Online, or subscribe to the print edition to receive access to ABR Online free of charge.

If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.

If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.

Published in October 2017, no. 395

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.