Australian Regional Literary History: Rethinking Limits and Boundaries


  • Brigid Louise Magner RMIT University
  • Emily Potter Deakin University
  • Jo Jones Curtin University
  • Tony Hughes-d'Aeth University of Western Australia


regional, literary history


This paper emerges from a panel discussion at the ‘Texts and Their Limits’ conference (2021) between four scholars in the field of Australian regional literary history to consider its current concerns, practices and relationship to the frameworks of Australian literary studies. The panel flagged a renewal of regional literary scholarship in Australia through exploration of the panelists’ own projects and collaborations in regional and rural Victorian and Western Australian communities. Drawing on their reflections on the doing of regional literary history, the conversation canvassed the distinct qualities of contemporary regional Australian literary scholarship; the role of place, situated practice and community engagement in this field; and the implications for the regional literary studies of the always unsettled boundaries and status of the ‘region’ in Australian life.  Following the original panel event, this paper discusses questions such as: what is regional literary history, where is it going, and what are limits? 



Author Biographies

Brigid Louise Magner, RMIT University

Brigid Magner is Associate Professor in Literary Studies and co-Director of the non/fictionLab research group at RMIT University. She co-edits the Journal of Australian Studies and is the Book Reviews editor for Literary Geographies. Her monograph Locating Australian Literary Memory was published in 2020.

Emily Potter, Deakin University

Emily Potter is Professor of Writing and Literature at Deakin University. Her research concerns the intersections of literary practice and place-making in Australia, with a focus on regional literary history. Emily’s most recent book is Writing Belonging at the Millennium: Notes from the Field of Settler Colonial Place. She is currently undertaking the ARC-funded project ‘Reading in the Mallee: the literary past and future of an Australian region’ (with Brigid Magner and Torika Bolatagici) and is the co-editor of the Journal of Australian Studies

Jo Jones, Curtin University

Jo Jones is an Associate Professor in Literary and Cultural Studies at Curtin University in Western Australia. Her key research areas are literary representations of historical narratives, literary gothic, deep time and literatures of place. In 2018 Jo published Falling Backwards: Australian Historical Fiction and The History Wars with UWAP, which won the 2019 Niall Lucy Award. In recent years, Jo has worked on the literature of rivers and the theory of deep mapping. Four Rivers, Deep Maps: Collected responses on rivers from the Perth region, Australia and Aberdeenshire, Scotland was published in 2022. Jo lives in the Perth Hills and has worked in a number of Australian universities, including the University of Tasmania and the University of Western Australia.  

Tony Hughes-d'Aeth, University of Western Australia

Tony Hughes-d’Aeth is the Chair of Australian Literature at the University of Western Australia and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. His books include Like Nothing on this Earth: A Literary History of the Wheatbelt (UWAP, 2017), which won the Walter McRae Russell Prize for Australian literary scholarship, and Paper Nation: The Story of the Picturesque Atlas of Australasia (MUP, 2001), which won the Ernest Scott and WK Hancock prizes for Australian history. In 2019 he convened the annual Association for the Studies of Australian Literature (ASAL) Conference Perth. Tony is also the Director of the Westerly Centre, which publishes Westerly Magazine, a literary journal founded in 1956 and is the Chair of the Publishing Board of UWA Publishing.


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