University of Tasmania
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Unbecoming-of-age : Australian grunge fiction, the Bildungsroman and the long labor decade

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posted on 2023-05-26, 23:09 authored by Christie, Michael Robert
This thesis interprets and explains changes in aspects of the Australian literary and political fields that occurred during the period sociologist Peter Beilharz has named the long Labor decade: 1983 to 1996. During this period tropes of youth, illness and mobility, and the Bildungsroman form were central to the textual embedding, via the putative modernisation of Australian Labourism, of Neoliberalism in Australian political culture. This thesis's central argument is that at its best Grunge and post-Grunge literary fiction both register and attempt to resist Neoliberal governmentality through the tropes of youth, illness and mobility, and through the Bildungsroman form. The introduction surveys the critical reception of Grunge fiction and presents the thesis' central literary-theoretical concepts which are taken from Franco Moretti and Fredric Jameson's historical sociology of literary form. It argues that the effective application of these methods of literary history to Grunge fiction requires a locally and temporally specific historical sociology and that Peter Beilharz's Transforming Labor is a productive text from which to further generate a late twentieth-century Australia-centred historical sociology. Chapter one analyses the textuality of the non-fiction writing of the long Labor decade through Beilharz's hermeneutic historical sociology. After establishing its key terms the chapter moves into three studies of central figures and texts of the period: prime ministers Gough Whitlam and Paul Keating, and Paul Kelly's The End of Certainty. Chapter two reads the oeuvres of Frank Moorhouse and Amanda Lohrey against the loss of Whitlam and Whitlamism and the emergence of Neoliberal forms of government. It also interprets The Reading Group and Forty-Seventeen - two of their pre-Grunge novels - against the post-Whitlam sense of mourning and loss. Chapter three returns to Grunge fiction and reads Andrew McGahan's Praise and 1988 and Christos Tsiolkas' Loaded in affiliation with the Neoliberal textuality of the stories told by and of Keating. Chapter four utilises the analysis of The End of Certainty to read three postGrunge novels. Elliot Penman's Three Dollars, Andrew McCann's Subtopia and Anthony Macris' Capital, volume one are interpreted and explained as responses to the embedding of Neoliberalism in Australian and global political culture that Kelly's master-work participates in through its use of the Bildungsroman form. The thesis concludes with a short survey of other fiction of the period and a brief outline of areas for future research suggested by the thesis.


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Copyright 2009 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s) Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2009. Includes bibliographical references

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