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A grounded existence: Weightlessness and weightiness in Kim Scott's Benang: from the heart

Guise, Holly (2015) A grounded existence: Weightlessness and weightiness in Kim Scott's Benang: from the heart. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis argues that, in Indigenous Australian Kim Scott’s novel Benang: from the heart (1999), images of weightlessness and weightiness contrast and coalesce in myriad ways. Spanning the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the South-West region of Western Australia, Scott constructs a polyphonic, subversive and inclusive narrative that represents various Nyoongar identities struggling for identity and place. Current criticism predominantly focuses on weightlessness in relation to Indigenous protagonist Harley Scat’s fragile grasp on identity, history and culture. They have overlooked the more pervasive aspects of weightiness and the way that each concept serves multiple purposes in relation to different characters throughout the narrative. In particular, the images illuminate the disquiet of white colonising culture and satirise the egalitarian rationale driving Australian eugenicist policies. The concepts also serve to illustrate the profound consciousness of mixed-race characters who endeavour to consolidate and preserve a meaningful presence in places and bodies tainted by the residual effects of colonisation. Overall, through their implicit critique of Eurocentric values, the images articulate the resilience and sovereignty of Nyoongar culture. The related concept of groundlessness, propounded by cultural historian, philosopher and writer Paul Carter in The Lie of the Land (1996a) informs my reading of weightlessness and weightiness with regard to the novel’s representations.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Supervisor(s): Owen, Christine
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