Please join us for the next CuSPP Seminar (taking place both in-person and via zoom)
Thursday 8 June, 1-2pm, AD Hope Conference Room (see CuSPP email or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for zoom link).
Julieanne Lamond and Fiannuala Morgan
Hansard – Australia’s record of parliamentary debate – might seem an unlikely site for literary analysis. It is, however, a publisher of original poetry and its criticism, a forum for the performance and citation of poetry, and a complex archive of literary reception in Australia since Federation. When literary works are followed into extra-literary contexts (such as parliament), working assumptions about their status as politically subversive or otherwise come under pressure. Debates in literary studies about the role of critique in the discipline have revealed how common it has been to position the act of reading literature as one of political resistance, or to read a specific work as complicit in or subversive to particular discursive regimes or political positions. In focusing on Hansard in the way we do here, we are reading along, not against, the grain of the imbrication of literature and political power, in a context in which the decisions made in Australia’s Federal parliament had profoundly negative impacts on many people living here. In this paper, we discuss our findings in relation to the uses of poetry in Australian Commonwealth Hansard from 1901 – 1950, focusing on how the work of one early settler Australian poet-parliamentarian, John Cash Neild, is put to use in Parliamentary speeches as recorded in Hansard. The performance and discussion of Neild’s poetry in Hansard, in the contexts of the debates in which it is situated, demonstrate the complexity of the racialist attitudes at play in the development of the legislation underpinning what came to be known as the White Australia Policy.
Julieanne Lamond teaches literary studies at Australian National University, and has published essays on literary reception, reading history, gender and literary value, and 19th century and contemporary Australian literature. She is president of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, and co-editor of the journal Australian Literary Studies. Her recent monograph, Lohrey, on Tasmanian writer Amanda Lohrey, was published by Melbourne University Press in 2022.
Fiannuala Morgan is a PhD Candidate in Literature at Australian National Unviersity and a Senior Librarian at the National Library of Australia. Her recent publications include the monograph Aboriginal Writers and Popular Fiction: The Literature of Anita Heiss (2021) and the edited collection Black Thursday and Other Lost Australian Bushfire Narratives (2021).