Archipelagic space and the uncertain future of national literatures.


  • Elizabeth McMahon UNSW


carpentaria, disciplinary futures, Wonders of a Godless World


This essay joins in the discussion about the future of national literatures in the shifting formations of globalisation. Specifically, I want to interrogate what we mean by the future when we speak of literature and, specifically, of Australian or New Zealand literature. The essay proposes a literary cartography that overlays the alienation of this ‘no world’ with the ‘no-place’ of island utopias as they are mobilised in archipelagic chains or threads. This alternative model of spatial relationality and dynamism differs from conventional global traffic. It is a cartography derived from islands: from their history, fictions, and their theorists. This project is at least partly utopian in a strictly generic sense; that is, in its implication in the reading practices and politics of utopian texts.

Author Biography

Elizabeth McMahon, UNSW

UNSW Associate professor






Dorothy Green Memorial Lecture