Australian Culture (Special Topic course)


This special topic course will introduce students to the society and culture of Australia and its people. Utilising historical and contemporary examples of art forms including painting, poetry, film, novels and music, this course offers the perspective of one individual Australian on what defines Australia in the modern world. Topics to be considered include relations between indigenous Australia and settler/invader cultures, the formation of particular Australian identities through warfare, current threats to Australia’s unique environment, Australian attitudes towards Asia, the role of sporting heroes in Australian culture, the figure of the renegade or outlaw in colonial literature, the development of a national youth culture in the 1990s, Australian poetry and globalisation, the history of democracy in Australia, the role of religion in contemporary Australian politics and Australia’s relationship with the United States. Classes will utilise a mixture of written materials, audiovisual presentations and film. Assessment will consist of one short essay as well as group presentations on a topic related to one of the topics discussed in the course.


WEEK 1: beginning Monday 29 August
Administration & expectations
Course overview
Personal stories

WEEK 2: beginning Monday 5 September

WEEK 3: beginning Monday 12 September
Relations between indigenous Australia and invader cultures
Aboriginal Australia
Captain Cook & Terra Nullius
Questioning National Identities

WEEK 4: beginning Monday 19 September
The formation of Australian identities through warfare
Australians at War
The ANZAC legend
Japan, Korea and Vietnam

WEEK 5: beginning Monday 26 September
Threats to Australia ‘s unique environment
Australian Geography
Pastoralism, Mining and Tourism
City vs Bush

WEEK 6: beginning Monday 3 October
Australian attitudes towards Asia
Aboriginal relations with Asia
The Gold Rush, Federation and Xenophobia
Beyond Racism

WEEK 7: beginning Monday 10 October
The role of sporting heroes in Australian culture
Sporting Histories
Three heroes: Don Bradman, Evonne Goolagong and Phar Lap
National Pride and the Olympics

WEEK 8: beginning Monday 17 October

WEEK 9: beginning Monday 24 October
The figure of the renegade or outlaw in Australian culture
Freedom fighters and convicts
Three Perspectives on Ned Kelly
Renegade on film: Crocodile Dundee

WEEK 10: beginning Monday 31 October
Australian poetry
Colonial verse
The Ern Malley hoax
Contemporary voices

WEEK 11: beginning Monday 7 November
Australian culture and music since the 1990s
Moving on from the 1980s
Living with diversity
The emergence of an Australian youth culture

WEEK 12: beginning Monday 14 November
Contemporary Australian politics
Democracy, Religion & Politics
Neo-liberalism & globalization

WEEK 13: beginning Monday 21 November

WEEK 14: beginning Monday 28 November

WEEK 15: beginning Monday 5 December

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