Xiang Li on ’The Drover’s Wife’ Stories

Rewriting, Reflecting and Resisting: Gender, Reception and ‘The Drover’s Wife’ Stories

Thursday 5 May, 4.30-6pm, A. D. Hope Conference Room.

Henry Lawson’s 1892 short story ‘The Drover’s Wife’ has inspired many reinterpretations over the years. The constant (re)reading and (re)writing of the story enable discussions of and debates over gender, race, national identity and Australian culture. From Murray Bail’s 1975 short story to Leah Purcell’s 2021 film, the idea of ‘The Drover’s Wife’ has grown into a unique phenomenon in the Australian literary and cultural landscape. Previous scholarship tends to revolve around Lawson’s original and a few well-known stories from the 1970s and 1980s. This thesis examines the ‘wife’ phenomenon in its entirety, with a particular focus on recent renditions such as Ryan O’Neill’s 99 Reinterpretations (2018) and Purcell’s multi-genre adaptation project. Drawing on concepts from rewriting theory, reception theory, gender studies as well as cultural history, the thesis captures the way changing conceptions of gendered identities inform both the critical and creative reception of ‘The Drover’s Wife’ from the 1890s to where we are now.

Xiang Li is a PhD candidate in Australian literature at ANU.

ANU COVID safe event:
Check In CBR app / social distancing / masks mandatory / registered COVID safety officer

Contact: Russell.Smith@anu.edu.au for further enquiries or to obtain the zoom link

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