Medievalism and the Gothic in Australian Culture
Brepols Publishers, 2005 - History - 302 pages
This collection opens up a new field of academic and general interest: Australian medievalism. That is, the heritage and continuing influence of medieval and gothic themes, ideas and cultural practices. Geographically removed from Europe, and distinguished by its eighteenth-century colonial settlement, Australia is a fascinating testing-ground on which to explore the cultural residues of medieval and gothic tradition. These traditions take a distinctive form, once they have been 'transported' to a different topographical setting, and a cultural context whose relationship with Europe has always been dynamic and troubled. Early colonists attempted to make the unfamiliar landscape of Australia familiar by inscribing it with European traditions: since then, a diverse range of responses and attitudes to the medieval and gothic past have been played out in Australian culture, from traditional forms of historical reconstruction through to playful postmodernist pastiche. These essays examine the early narratives of Australian 'discovery' and the settlement of what was perceived as a hostile, gothic environment; exercises of medieval revivalism and association consonant with the British nineteenth-century rediscovery of chivalric ideals and aesthetic, spiritual and architectural practices and models; the conscious invocation and interrogation of medieval and gothic tropes in Australian fiction and poetry, including children's literature; the transformation of those tropes in fantasy, role-playing games and subcultural groups; and finally, the implication of the medieval past for discussions of Australian nationalism.
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