IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 1207: Medievalism and Australian Environmental Imagination

Wednesday 9 July 2008, 14.15-15.45

Sponsor:Australasian Medievalisms Cluster, ARC Network for Early European Research
Organiser:Andrew Lynch, Department of English & Cultural Studies, University of Western Australia
Moderator/Chair:Andrew Lynch, Department of English & Cultural Studies, University of Western Australia
Paper 1207-aStaging Medieval Environments in 'Marvellous Melbourne'
(Language: English)
Louise D'Arcens, Department of English, University of Wollongong, New South Wales
Index terms: Language and Literature - Comparative, Medievalism and Antiquarianism
Paper 1207-bMedieval Australian Animals?: A Bestiary and a Beast Fable
(Language: English)
Melanie Duckworth, School of English, University of Leeds
Index terms: Language and Literature - Comparative, Medievalism and Antiquarianism
Paper 1207-cMagical Ecosystems: Medievalism and the Transformations of Genre in Australian Fantasy Fiction
(Language: English)
Laurie Ormond, Department of English & Cultural Studies, University of Western Australia
Index terms: Language and Literature - Comparative, Medievalism and Antiquarianism
Abstract

This session addresses the influence of medievalism on Australian cultural imaginations of the environment, from colonial times to the present: 1860s Melbourne offered a moment in which aesthetic tastes, public events, and urban development converged to make medievalism an unexpected yet appropriate idiom to express civic identity. The poetry of Les Murray and Francis Webb aligns medieval bestiaries and beast fables with Aboriginal totemism to blur the boundaries of the spiritual and the natural, questioning the ascendancy of human wisdom. In contemporary Australia genre fantasy fiction, a sense of oneness with the land is problematically based on both medievalist supernaturalism and the claim to cultural ownership through a ‘blood’ tie.