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Australia in the vernacular: Poetic explorations

Stevens, Michael (2020) Australia in the vernacular: Poetic explorations. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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As Australian society continues to evolve, so is the idea of a collective culture changing in ways that provoke a questioning of traditional values, tropes and symbols. This thesis will explore and analyse some of the changes in the ways poetic art might imagine what Australian identity and culture look like: through a creative component comprising a small collection of my own poetry and a dissertation that offers a reading of a small selection of poems by Australian poet Les Murray. The creative component will seek to capture glimpses of the ordinary aspects of contemporary Australian society, and to show how poetry has the potential to transcend exclusionary viewpoints in order to re-imagine Australian diversity. The dissertation will explore how Murray, who both interpreted and translated familiar images of Australian landscapes, nature, culture, and people, pieces together a mosaic written in the Australian vernacular—for him the key to understanding Australian identity. While Murray’s poetry has been criticised for its restrictive views of Australian culture, his harnessing of the vernacular offers the possibility for an expansive poetic rendering of national life in all its difference. Overall, the thesis aims to offer the reader an imaginative series of poetic and critical reflections on elements of Australia’s complexity as a changing nation.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Social Sciences and Arts
Supervisor(s): Surma, Anne
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