Two Worlds: Allegory as the Structure of Appearance in Dante’s Divine Comedy and Kim Scott’s Benang: From the Heart.

Please join us for the next CuSPP Seminar (taking place both in-person and via zoom)

Thursday 18 May, 1-2pm (see CuSPP email or contact for zoom link).

Within and against the western tradition, allegory is a structure that supports the appearance of things that cannot appear in any other way. Professor Machosky applies this observation about how allegory works as “a structure of appearance” as a way to consider the Dreaming/Law/Lore of the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.  In recent post-colonial (or, as it is perhaps better described, continually colonial studies), negotiations with the idea of “the other” are becoming increasingly self-critical and problematized, at least a recognition of the western hegemony.  Allegory is the saying of the other, literally, “saying other than”, and so it is, perhaps inherently, a structure appropriate to properly engage with something “other” and allowing it to be just different, resisting a desire to appropriate it into western modes of  knowing. In this presentation, Professor Machosky will share her revised understanding of allegory as a structure of appearance rather than a structure of meaning, including analysis of how it applies to the western canonical allegory of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Then she will propose how, as a structure that supports the appearance of two things in the same space at the same time, allegory might be a way for western academics to comprehend the Dreaming/Law/Lore of Aboriginal peoples without appropriating it into western epistemological systems of signification and meaning. Prof Machosky will then propose how this approach applies to Kim Scott’s Benang: From the Heart and its exploration of Harley’s discovery of not only the two worlds foundational to Aboriginal being, but also the two worlds of colonization that appear in the hi/story of Australia.

Brenda Machosky is Professor of English and Humanities at the University of Hawaii West Oahu, a regional university with a majority of Native Hawaiian, Samoan and Pacific Islander students and a diverse range of ethnicities from the Pacific region and the continental United States. Professor Machosky teaches courses in world literature, postcolonial literatures and theory, English literature, and literary theory. Brenda is editor of Antipodes: A Global Journal of Australia/New Zealand Studies, an American-based journal that publishes scholarly work about literature, media and culture of the Antipodes and also creative work by in-country and non-resident writers. The journal has a goal to include more writing about and by Indigenous people of these regions. Brenda also serves as president of the American Association for Australasian Literary Studies. Her current research concentrates on Indigenous literatures of Australia and Aotearoa as well as her lifelong study of allegory, and she is developing a book that brings these two interests together, called World Without Fall. Her published books include Structures of Appearing: Allegory and the Work of Literature (Fordham 2013)  and the edited volume, Thinking Allegory Otherwise (Stanford 2010). Recent essays include “Allegory and the work of Aboriginal Dreaming/Law/Lore” in the Routledge collection, Allegory Studies: Contemporary Perspectives; “Alexis Wright’s Storytelling Novel and its ‘particular kind of knowledge’” and “Kim Scott’s True Country as Aboriginal Bildungsroman.” Forthcoming is an essay on Phenomenology and Allegory in the Oxford University Press Handbook on Allegory, edited by David Parry.

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