The Transvestite Adventure: Reading the Colonial Grotesque

Elizabeth Nora McMahon

Abstract


This reading of transvestic performance in Australian fiction is in dialogue with Robert Dixon’s 1995 monograph Writing the Colonial Adventure: Race, Gender and Nation in Anglo-Australian Popular Fiction, 1875-1914. It is informed by the frameworks Dixon developed in his analysis of the relationship between literature and culture, specifically the ways in which he relates the occult effects of the literary imaginary and the political unconscious to historical context and their implication in the formation of Australia’s particular colonialism. More specifically still, the argument regarding colonial transvestism engages directly with Dixon’s deployment of Peter Stallybrass and Allon White’s formulation of the ‘grotesque’ and its application to the Australian colonial context. The essay revisits Dixon’s reading of the Australian grotesque as a critical optic for reading Australian colonial narratives of female to male cross-dressing to argue that the transvestite figures in colonial narratives enact performances of what Stallybrass and White schematise as the two orders of the grotesque, which are enacted in the identity formation of the collective

Keywords


colonial fiction, transvestism, grotesque

Full Text:

PDF

References


Chesser, Lucy. Parting with My Sex: cross-dressing, inversion and sexuality in Australian Cultural Life, Sydney University of Sydney Press, 2008.

Dixon, Robert. Writing the Colonial Adventure: Race, Gender and Nation in Anglo-Australian Popular Fiction, 1875-1914

Dalziell, Tanya. Settler Romances and the Australian Girl. Perth: Univerity of Western Australia Press, 2004.

Donald, James. ‘How English Is it? Popular Literature and National Culture.’ New Formations. 6, (Winter 1988).

Favenc, Ernest. ‘How the Reverend Simmondsen Lost his Character.’ The Old Bulletin Reader: Best Stories from The Bulletin 1881-1901. Melbourne: Lansdowne Press, 1973.

Garber, Marjorie. Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety. New York: Routledge, 1992.

Furphy, Joseph (1991) Such is Life, 1903 The Annotated Such is Life, ed. Frances Devlin Glass, Robin Eaden, Lois Hoffman and G.W. Turner, Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

McMahon, Elizabeth. 'The Centaur and the Cyborg: Abject Becoming on the Colonial Frontier', Southerly, vol. 67 (2007) pp. 211 – 225.

Praed, Rosa. (1903) Fugitive Anne. A Romance of the Unexplored Bush. A digital text sponsored by AustLit. University of Sydney Library. Sydney, Australia, 2002.

Shakespeare, William, As You Like It. Ed. Juliet Dusinberre. London: Arden, 2009.

Stallybrass Peter and Allon White, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression. London: Methuen, 1986.

Tasma [Jessie Couvrier] 1878. "Monsieur Caloche" in From the Verandah: Stories of Love and Landscape by Nineteenth Century Australian Women ed. Fiona Giles, Melbourne: McPhee Gribble. 1987.


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.