Alexis Wright, Carpentaria, 2006
Published under John Howard’s conservative tenure in 2006, Carpentaria can be seen to denounce the neo-colonial powers in contemporary Australia that marginalise, reify, and stifle the Indigenous world out of agency. Such neo-colonialism is given fictional shape through the destructive manipulations of the multinational Gurfurritt mine against First Nations sovereignty and through the stunting impact of small-town racism.
The novel questions the race, gender, and class divisions that hold exploitative, capitalist relationships in place in Australia and employs an Aboriginal Reality to achieve its post-colonising thrust. It proposes a return to a holistic understanding of people and nature and creates contemporary storylines and structures recognisably drawing on Australia’s oldest cultural heritage, the Dreaming. Author Alexis Wright also incorporates European history, legend and myths of place and settlement. Centring her discourse on an agentic focus from the fringe, Wright works across two cultural spheres to create a textual embodiment of her people’s resilience and cultural survival.
This masterclass on Carpentaria will explore literary activism and resistance, the locale, notions of realism, insider/outsider knowledges of time and place, and waste and rejuvenation as a cyclic process of Aboriginal cosmology and world view.
Associate Professor Jeanine Leane
Jeanine Leane is a Wiradjuri writer, poet and academic from south-west New South Wales. Her poetry and short stories have been published in Hecate: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Women’s Liberation, The Journal for the European Association for Studies of Australia, Australian Poetry Journal, Antipodes, Overland, and the Australian Book Review. Jeanine has published widely in the area of Aboriginal literature, writing otherness and creative non-fiction.
Jeanine was the recipient of the University of Canberra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Poetry Prize, and she has won the Oodgeroo Noonuccal Indigenous Poetry Prize twice (2017 and 2019). She was the 2019 recipient of the Red Room Poetry Fellowship for her project Voicing the Unsettled Space: Rewriting the Colonial Mythscape. In 2020 Jeanine edited Guwayu – For All Times, a collection of First Nations Poetry commissioned by Red Room Poetry and published by Magabala Books.
Jeanine teaches creative writing and Aboriginal literature at the University of Melbourne. Jeanine is the recipient of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Fellowship for a project called Aboriginal Writing: Shaping the literary and cultural history of Australia, since 1988 (2014–2018), and a second ARC grant that looks at Indigenous Storytelling and the Living Archive of Aboriginal Knowledge (2020–2024).