Bankruptcy and literature in colonial Australia

Lucie O’Brien, Professor Ken Gelder and Ian Ramsay

This joint project with the Centre for Corporate Law (CCL), investigates representations of bankruptcy in the literature of colonial Australia. It focusses on the poems, short stories and serialised novels that appeared in periodicals published in Victoria, in the 1850s, 60s and 70s. The project is examining the ways in which these texts borrowed from Victorian English literature, drawing parallels between financial profligacy and moral degeneracy. It is also exploring the ways in which they diverged from English precedents to reflect the unique aspirations and anxieties of a settler colony.


About Professor Ken Gelder

Ken Gelder is Professor of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Melbourne. He is also a co-director (with Denise Varney) of the Australian Centre in the Faculty of Arts. His latest books include New Directions in Popular Fiction (Palgrave, 2016) and Adapting Bestsellers: Fantasy, Franchise and the Afterlife of Storyworlds which was published by Cambridge University Press in January 2020.

Ken is co-editor (with Rachael Weaver) of four anthologies of colonial popular fiction, covering the Gothic, crime fiction, romance and adventure (all published by MUP) as well as The Colonial Journals, and the emergence of Australian literary culture (University of Western Australia Publishing, 2014). His most recent book with Rachael Weaver is Colonial Australian Fiction: Character Types, Social Formations and the Colonial Economy (Sydney University Press, 2017). Their co-authored book The Colonial Kangaroo Hunt will be published by Melbourne University Publishing in March 2020.

Ken Gelder academic profile