Melancholy in Australian Literature

Subject 106-454 (2008)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2008.Search for this in the current handbookSearch for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.500
Level: Undergraduate
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2008:

Semester 1, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable


Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour seminar per week
Total Time Commitment: .
Prerequisites: Usually admission to the postgraduate certificate, diploma or fourth year honours in English or creative writing.
Corequisites: .
Recommended Background Knowledge: .
Non Allowed Subjects: .
Core Participation Requirements: .


Jennifer Rutherford
Subject Overview:

This subject will explore melancholy in Australian literature and its relation to contemporary cultural and political formations. Students will read contemporary writers who express the tedium-vitae of late modernity, (eg. Houellebecq, Sebald) and traditional and contemporary Australian texts, and engage with a variety of theoretical works on melancholy drawn from the philosophical, poetic, visual and medico-psychoanalytic tradition. Questions to be considered include: Why did melancholy emerge as a dominant trope in colonial literature? How was melancholy projected onto the 'landscape' and what were the implications of this for emerging patterns of subjectivity, affectivity and intimacy? Is melancholy gendered and how does this manifest in Australian literary representations of suffering? Is there a relation between melancholia, Australian linguistic patterns and the incorporation and encrypting of cultural memory? Has the liquidity of late modernity accelerated the melancholic state of contemporary Australia? Students completing this subject will develop an understanding of contemporary theoretical accounts of melancholy and develop the conceptual and theoretical skills to situate and analyse literary melancholy in relation to the social and cultural forms and forces that contribute to the deepening and acceleration of melancholy in late modernity.

Assessment: A seminar presentation equivalent to 1000 words 20% (due mid-semester) and an essay of 4000 words 80% (due at the end of semester).
Prescribed Texts: A subject reader will be available from the University Bookshop.Atomised (M Houellebecq) His Natural Life (M Clarke) Tourmaline (R Stowe) The Tree of Man (P White) The Rings of Saturn (W.G Sebald) The Garden Book (B Castro) After China (B Castro) The Fortunes of Richard Mahony (H.H Richardson)
Recommended Texts:


Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • have advanced research and analytic skills;

  • have the ability to communicate oral and written arguments and ideas effectively;

  • have advanced theoretical knowledge in a field of inquiry

Notes: .
Related Course(s): Postgraduate Certificate in Arts (English Language)
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (English Literature)

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