Australian Literature helps me to expand the boundaries of my own experience.
This unit has definitely pushed me out of my literature comfort-zone, and in doing so has shaped my own experiences for the better.
I chose literature because I did well in English last year in high school, I enjoyed analyzing our set texts and writing essays, and I was looking forward to what I could learn in my degree…
Then, in our first tutorial with Elaine, we were asked who our favourite Australian author is… It’s so embarrassing to think that I knew no one. I was so anxious about the rest of the semester and what it entailed.
This negativity continued when I read the expectations for blogging, I thought it would be inconvenient and annoying. That brings me to my first ‘expansion of boundary’ because I have LOVED it. I went out on walks in the bush, took my own photos for my blog, I loved designing my own page and writing a personal blog about what I was learning. It was then so amazing to be able to read other students progress and their own thoughts too.
Our first blog entailed describing the poem that had most meaning to us. I chose Judith Wright’s, “Rockface”. My own experience was expanded because I had never really connected or acknowledged the custodians of Australia. We had learnt about them, and I understood the history behind the Indigenous people but never had I felt any emotions about it. The poetry expressed the beauty in nature, something that, unfortunately, I had barely paid attention to before.
My new perspective on Aboriginal people became more than just a subject in history. I began to sympathize, and with that feeling of pity came an intense guilt. I felt stupid for being so naive, I felt angry that I had never cared before and even more that this was common – no one cares! Being amongst such expressive, passionate and honest poetry and artworks (and lecturers) revealed the importance of protecting Indigenous culture.
This was further encompassed by the gut-wrenching ending of That Deadman Dance. I found this book hard to read, I got confused with the language, the characters and flashbacks of eras -but I worked my way through it, defining words, writing notes and flipping back and forth. (Just another way my experiences were broadened.) The feeling I already felt after the gallery visit and experiences in class worsened after reading the book, I could not help but feel like I partook in the white-washing, the greediness, and the materialistic views of some settlers in this book. I wanted to be able to understand and learn from Bobby’s dance, exactly like he wanted me to.
Ned Kelly was the subject of my next blog, but similar to The Orange Tree it did not affect me in the way that the previous weeks had. However I enjoyed participating in the debate of Ned Kelly as a hero or villain, and that everyone has their own thoughts and perceptions about him.
Overall I really enjoyed Australian literature, I was continually learning while being tested in my understanding of key figures and their works and impacts on Australia- but as my blog reflects, I have become more appreciative of our country, of its history, and the way in which so much can be experienced and expressed through literature.