Between Life Writing and Nature Writing : Australian Landscape and Eco-Memoir

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Rok publikování 2022
Druh Další prezentace na konferencích
Fakulta / Pracoviště MU

Filozofická fakulta

Popis In modern Australian autobiography and memoir, the narratives of the self are often framed with the narratives of specific landscapes, places, regions. This interweaving of place- and self-writing has a long tradition which goes back to the late 19th century formation of a distinct national identity for settler Australians. In this tradition, settler belonging (both national and personal) is inseparably tied to the process of home-making, which in turn is heavily marked by the history of colonization and dispossession of Indigenous populations. Thus, life writing in Australia is also inescapably political. Like everywhere else, Australian life writing has recently witnessed an even more intense interest in the narrative articulation of the human self’s interaction with its environment. While ‘eco-biography’ has been ventured as a term already in the 1990s, more recently Jessica White has used ‘eco-memoir’ to represent the literary expression of the interlacing of memory and the natural environment. In addition, ‘landscape memoir’ is another term that resonates in contemporary Australian life- and nature-writing. My presentation will introduce recent Australian landscape and eco-memoirs, making references particularly to Mark Tredinnick’s The Blue Plateau: An Australian Pastoral (2009), Kim Mahood’s Position Doubtful: Mapping Landscapes and Memories (2016) and Angela Rockel, Rogue Intensities (2019) as three representative examples showcasing various experimental strategies: Tredinnick’s account is a collective tribute to a place and its people, celebrating the symbiosis through minute, staged histories of forgotten families, while inscribing the author’s self in the larger history of Australian settlement. Mahood’s multimodal landscape memoir interweaves narratives of the self, the process of representing quintessential Australian landscape—the Outback—in her own artwork, while framing all of that with a commentary on current politics of Indigenous-settler relationships. Finally, Rockel wrote a highly poetic, experimental journal documenting five years of her life spent in rural Tasmania and recording her observations of nature, farming, family and community, history, mythology, philosophy and literature. I will argue that these eco-memoirs capture Australian settlers’ strategy of securing a sense of belonging through an intimate knowledge of their environments, while often tiptoeing around the continuing, and still unmet, calls for the sovereignty of Indigenous Country.
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