Working-class Youth Subcultures: Resistance and Exploitation in Criena Rohan's The Delinquents and Mudrooroo's Wild Cat Falling

Ian Herbertson

Abstract


Of the small group of Australian novels written from beneath the shiny surface of late 50s and early 60s youth styles – reports from underground, stamped with ‘insider’ authority – none observed the intellectual uncertainties of a new order more acutely than Criena Rohan’s The Delinquents (1962) and Mudrooroo’s Wild Cat Falling (1965). Both hinged on an intriguing paradox: on the one hand they eagerly accepted that youth subcultures were the source of new identities, less welded to traditional class alignments; but they also contained some of the darkest interpretations of the relationship between youth and the culture industries which provided the raw material for subcultural styles. Their radical depiction of youth’s energy and popular culture’s allure was undercut by troubled equivocations, or doubts, that youth could creatively use mass popular culture to resist or undermine the power of the dominant capitalist order that produced it.

Keywords


Mudrooroo, Criena Rohan, popular culture; subcultures; class; consumerism,

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