Is Prowse’s Rectum a Grave?: Jouissance, Reparative Transnationalism and Patrick White’s The Twyborn Affair


  • Jackson Moore Australian National University


Australian Literature, Queer Theory, Transnationalism, Patrick White


This paper argues that the depiction of the character Don Prowse in Patrick White’s The Twyborn Affair offers itself as a space of libidinal investment, and in doing so offers readers of this text an opportunity to re-engage with Australia’s nationalist literary tradition. The hyper-masculine Prowse stands as an emblem of Australia’s cultural heritage, as a link to the ubiquitous bushman of the ubiquitous 1890s. But what does it mean when this character, and by extension this literary tradition, are overtly sexualised, when they become desired and objectified by a desiring reader? Without erasing the prevalent misogyny and homophobia that attend Australia’s literary past, this paper nevertheless seeks to inaugurate a reparative reading of this past, a reading which disavows a hermeneutics of suspicion in favour of a reparative position which takes jouissance as a potential expression of attachment, desire, even love. Utilising the psychoanalytic frameworks of Eve Sedgwick and Leo Bersani, this paper articulates a new rhetoric of belonging and explores the ramifications of a queer theoretical standpoint in reanimating the relations between self, text, the nation state and the globe.

Author Biography

Jackson Moore, Australian National University

Jackson Morre is a PhD candidate in the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics at the Australian National University.