The Australian Imaginary

Subject ENGL20009 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 29-Feb-2016 to 29-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 11-Mar-2016
Census Date 31-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-May-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 1.5-hour lecture and a 1-hour tutorial per week.
Total Time Commitment:

Total expected time commitment is 170 hours across the semester, including class time.





Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:

106-046 Wild Writing: The Australian Imaginary

Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry. The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Prof Ken Gelder


Prof Ken Gelder

Subject Overview:

The sense of national literature formed quite soon in colonial Australia, which saw a remarkable level of literary activity across a range of genres. This subject looks at what a national literature means, and how it makes itself significant to the nation and beyond. It will think about colonialism and colonial writing in Australia, modes of Australian social realism, the emergence of an Australian modernism, ways of representing region, suburb and city, postcolonialism in Australia, 'multicultural' writing, and Indigenous literature. The focus is on the novel, short stories, poetry and genres such as romance and the Gothic.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of the subject students should be able:

  • to demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of representative examples of Australian literature;
  • to articulate the relationship between selected Australian literary works and the social, historical and cultural contexts that produced them;
  • to apply high-level analysis, conceptual sophistication and critical thinking to the study of Australia literature and the debates it has provoked;
  • to contribute to the understanding of Australian literature in ways that engage the interests of the discipline of literary studies;
  • to communicate effectively an understanding of Australian literature and its contexts in both written and oral formats;
  • to have gained an understanding of how to act as critically informed participants within a community of literature scholars, as citizens and in the work force at large.

One essay of 1500 words, 40% (due during the semester) and one essay of 2500 words, 60% (due in the examination period). A class presentation is also a course requirement; this will consist either of work towards one of the essays, or a critical account of the primary and/or secondary reading material for a given week. This subject has a minimum hurdle requirement of 80% attendance and regular participation in tutorials. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. All assessment tasks must be submitted in order to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available.

  • The Anthology of Colonial Australian Gothic Fiction (Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver eds)
  • The Anthology of Colonial Australian Romance Fiction (Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver eds)
  • Seven Poor Men of Sydney (Christina Stead)
  • The Electrical Experience (Frank Moorhouse)
  • Voss (Patrick White)
  • The Hunter (Julia Leigh)
  • The Slap (Christos Tsiolkas)
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • be able to apply new research skills and critical methods to a field of inquiry;

  • develop critical self-awareness and the capacity to shape and strengthen persuasive arguments;

  • communicate arguments and ideas effectively and articulately, both in writing and to others.


Students who have completed 106-046 Australia and the Colonial Imaginary or 106-046/670-326 Wild Writing: The Australian Imginary are not eligible to enrol in this subject.

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Australian Studies
English and Theatre Studies
Graduate Certificate in Arts - English and Theatre Studies
Graduate Diploma in Arts - English and Theatre Studies

Download PDF version.