Literature and Theatre

Open Access (free)
Antipodean life as a comparative exercise
Sarah Comyn

This chapter explores one of the most potent of the European fictions or myths surrounding the south: the Antipodes. The north’s construction of the south as upside down or back-to-front with ‘feet’ facing the ‘wrong’ direction, the Antipodes proved a powerful metaphor through which settlers in Australia could critique both the colonial political establishment and the British metropole. Examining the poetry, fiction, letters, and illustrated articles in a range of newspapers from nineteenth-century Australia, this chapter demonstrates the extent to which the cartographic, corporeal, and metaphoric inversion associated with the Antipodes not only shaped what Paul Giles identifies as a ‘heightened form of comparative consciousness’ in the southern colonies, but was also re-inscribed in newspaper depictions of settler life, moving from the map to the routines and domesticities, as well as the culture and politics, of settlers’ day-to-day experiences. A practice of antipodean reorientation could be used by people living in and writing from the south as a way of writing back to the north, challenging both the cultural hierarchies and hegemonies of the metropolitan north, and the north’s preconception of the south as topsy-turvy and belated.

in Worlding the south
Open Access (free)
Settler emigration, the voyage out, and shipboard literary production
Fariha Shaikh

This chapter explores the spatialising methodologies of shipboard periodicals produced on three ships as they voyaged between Britain and Australia across the oceanic expanses of the southern hemisphere in the mid-nineteenth century: the Sobraon, the Somersetshire, and the True Briton. By the 1860s, newspapers produced on board the ship by passengers between Britain and the Antipodes were a regular affair: fair copies of newspapers were produced by hand and distributed around the ship, or, if the ship carried a printing press, newspapers were produced at sea. This chapter embeds maritime literary culture, and the production of shipboard periodicals, within some of the key ideological frameworks of settler colonial discourse. It argues that if the production of shipboard periodicals produced sociability at sea, then this sociability was also embedded in settler discourses of race and power.

in Worlding the south
Wordlists, songs, and knowledge production on the colonial Australian frontier
Anna Johnston

Colonial linguistic studies are fascinating textual sources that reveal much about everyday life and knowledge production under frontier conditions. Gender also influenced the conditions of language learning and cultural exchange. This chapter uses the archival traces left by two women in colonial Australia to explore the relationship between language study and knowledge production, paying particular attention to linguistic texts that reveal traces of cross-cultural relationships and the Indigenous intermediaries who engaged in knowledge-making practices. Eliza Hamilton Dunlop learnt languages in New South Wales in the 1840s, and published poetry that included Indigenous vocabulary. Harriott Barlow lived on the Queensland frontier in the late 1860s, and she worked with local Indigenous people to make one of the first language studies of the region, published in one of Britain’s leading anthropological journals. These intimate exchanges on colonial frontiers reveal the imbrication of language collection, knowledge production, Indigenous engagement, and settler advocacy, and determined in what forms these issues emerged from the colonial south to influence imperial print culture.

in Worlding the south
Reading Robinson Crusoe in colonial New Zealand
Jane Stafford

This chapter examines the influence of British literary models on colonial and Indigenous readings practices. Robinson Crusoe was widely read in colonial New Zealand, and widely cited as a model for successful settlement. It was translated into te reo Māori (the Māori language) in 1852 in the hope that Crusoe’s qualities of industriousness and self-reliance might be influential. As far as can be gauged, Māori readers were cautious in their response. The colonist Henry Weekes hoped to emulate Crusoe when in 1845 he bought an island, Puketutu, in the Manakau Harbour, near Auckland. But, as he records in his journal, despite patronage and support from the local Māori of Ihumātao and the assistance of his ‘Friday’, a Pākehā (European) servant, his efforts were unsuccessful.

in Worlding the south
Louisa Atkinson’s recasting of the Australian landscape
Grace Moore

In 1857 Louisa Atkinson became the first Australian-born woman to publish a novel, Gertrude the Emigrant. Atkinson was already an accomplished nature writer and illustrator whose botanical columns appeared regularly in the Sydney press. Her novels are notable for their detailed attention to Australian plant life, while her bushscapes are remarkably vivid, and several of her works feature dramatic accounts of bushfires. As a naturalist, Atkinson was particularly attuned to outback ecology, and fire scenes are much more than fleeting plot devices designed to bring about dramatic rescues. She resists the settler propensity to contain the landscape by representing it through a lens of the sublime, revelling in its difference, rather than attempting to understand it on European terms. Drawing on Atkinson’s nature writing as well as her fiction, this chapter will examine her depictions of bushfire and land clearances to critique settler understandings of the Australian natural world. Focusing particularly on her fire stories, it will consider how her depictions of fire are distinct from those of her contemporaries and how her writings promote respect for the bush, and critique what Rob Nixon has termed the ‘slow violence’ of settler culture.

in Worlding the south
Rachael Weaver

This chapter traces the development of the colonial kangaroo hunt as a transnational narrative genre. John Hunter’s First Fleet journal (1793) presented the generic conventions that came to define the colonial kangaroo hunt narrative: casting the kangaroo as fitting quarry and giving an exciting account of the chase and the kill. The chapter goes on to map the subsequent transnationalisation of the kangaroo as scientific details and live specimens were shipped back to Europe. Zoological gardens and acclimatisation societies in Europe contributed to the development of the kangaroo hunt as a recognised recreational activity outside Australia. The kangaroo hunt was absorbed into a global narrative to do with travel and adventure, which also informed readers about species biodiversity in the Global South. These themes were explored in novels by Sarah Bowdich Lee and Emilia Marryat Norris, which are analysed alongside narratives and artworks by Europeans who visited Australia to take part in kangaroo hunts. The chapter concludes that –whether encountered when exploring, wandering, bivouacking, settling, or hunting professionally – the kangaroo hunt is represented as an essential experience both in colonial Australia and abroad, one that unfolds in the contexts of imperialism and empire, military occupation, exploration and settlement, developments in the natural sciences, and transnational narratives of adventure.

in Worlding the south
Open Access (free)
Petitions, politics, and the African Christian converts of the nineteenth century
Hlonipha Mokoena

This chapter demonstrates how Indigenous peoples in Africa could mobilise missionary networks, print technologies, and new literacies to develop their own cultural and political agency through the genre of the petition. In its multiple iterations, the petition marked the sites of contestation between not just converts and the British government but also black professionals, black journalists, black clergy, and other marginalised groups in the emerging literary culture of nineteenth-century South Africa. Even ‘illiterate’ African kings would occasionally appear as signatories to such petitions. As a genre of political writing, the petition serves not only the function of delineating the political from the civil, but, as this chapter shows, is in itself a sign of the penetration of literature into the consciousness and daily experiences of those who were by law British subjects but who were in practice excluded from the colonial privileges that accompanied subjugation.

in Worlding the south
William Burchell’s Travels in the Interior of Southern Africa
Matthew Shum

This chapter examines William Burchell’s Travels in the Interior of Southern Africa. It begins by examining Burchell’s status as a naturalist and argues that, though his observations were to be used by others for instrumental purposes, his understanding of the natural world was primarily guided by an ‘Orphic’ rather than a utilitarian approach. The bulk of the chapter then considers Burchell’s volatile relations with Indigenous people, in particular the San. Central to my consideration of these interactions is the fact that Burchell travelled mainly as a lone European, without any significant ability to impose his will on the people he encountered. He was thus acutely dependent on the degree of reciprocation he received from Indigenous people. To navigate this uncertain human territory, Burchell employs the literary registers of the ‘man of feeling’. The result is a revealing if uneven attempt at sympathetic interaction that opens up the possibility of transactional rather than hierarchical modes of relationship in the colonial context.

in Worlding the south
Open Access (free)
Nineteenth-century literary culture and the southern settler colonies

This collection brings together for the first time literary studies of British colonies in nineteenth-century Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Drawing on hemispheric studies, Indigenous studies, and southern theory to decentre British and other European metropoles, the collection offers a latitudinal challenge to national paradigms and traditional literary periodisations and canons by proposing a new literary history of the region that is predicated less on metropolitan turning points and more on southern cultural perspectives in multiple regional centres from Cape Town to Dunedin. With a focus on southern orientations, southern audiences, and southern modes of addressivity, Worlding the south foregrounds marginal, minor, and neglected writers and texts across a hemispheric complex of southern oceans and terrains. Drawing on an ontological tradition that tests the dominance of networked theories of globalisation, the collection also asks how we can better understand the dialectical relationship between the ‘real’ world in which a literary text or art object exists and the symbolic or conceptual world it shows or creates. By examining the literary processes of ‘worlding’, it demonstrates how art objects make legible homogenising imperial and colonial narratives, inequalities of linguistic power, textual and material violence, and literary and cultural resistance. With contributions from leading scholars in nineteenth-century literary and cultural studies, the collection revises literary histories of the ‘British world’ by arguing for the distinctiveness of settler colonialism in the southern hemisphere, and by incorporating Indigenous, diasporic, settler, and other southern perspectives.

Open Access (free)
David Brauner

A sketching out of two potential directions for future scholarship on Jacobson to take: an analysis of the importance of Manchester in and to Jacobson’s fiction; and an analysis of Jacobson as a transatlantic Jewish writer.

in Howard Jacobson