Beyond the Colonial Present: Quantitative Analysis, 'Resourceful Reading' and Australian Literary Studies.

Katherine Bode


The revival in cultural nationalism suggested by current debates about Australian history and literature represents (to borrow from Gillian Whitlock) both a potential pleasure and a danger for Australian literary studies. While the injection of funds augured by this shift in government policy could resuscitate and reinvigorate the discipline, at present, such funds seem to be contingent upon reviving a canonical approach to the teaching and researching of Australian literature. This situation places Australian literary studies at a crossroad. Rather than following the path of least resistance and reinstituting the canon, I advocate a move towards innovation: that is, an extension and realisation of the principles and insights of cultural materialism through quantitative methodologies and resourceful readings, as well as through eResearch more generally. This direction would propel Australian literary studies beyond its current crisis of confidence - by reinvigorating the discipline and offering it renewed institutional, political, social and critical relevance, and alternative funding opportunities - without reinvoking the canon, and hence rejecting the cultural materialism that has shaped and positioned Australian literary studies since the 1980s.


quantitative methodologies; e-Research; cultural materialism; funding; the crisis in Australian literary studies

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