Professor Wai Chee Dimock (Yale University), author of Through Other Continents: American Literature Across Deep Time (2006) and co-editor of Shades of the Planet: American Literature as World Literature (2007).

Professor Zhao Baisheng (Peking University), author of Theory of Auto/Biography, Director of Peking University Institute of World Literature and President, World Literature Association.


As a part of its annual series of international symposia and book publications on key themes in Australian literary studies, on 25 - 26 May 2012, Australian Literature at the University of Sydney will host a symposium on the theme, ‘Scenes of Reading: Is Australian Literature a World Literature?’

Recent accounts define world literature as (i) a discipline concerned with the ‘effective life’ of a text ‘whenever, and wherever, it is actively present within a literary system beyond that of its original culture’, or (ii) as a field of practice, ‘a mode of circulation and of reading’, ‘a traffic in ideas between peoples’ (Damrosch). These definitions offer methodological challenges for Australian literature which, until recently, has been situated primarily as a ‘national’ literature. Transnational literary studies are now throwing into relief the provincialising force of such local and/or nationally-bounded knowledges. Indeed the relationships between local and transnational literary space are demanding new reading practices, and creating new ‘scenes of reading’. These have been variously described using metaphors like: ‘mutual elliptical refraction’ (Damrosch, Giles), or looking far afield through the wrong end of the telescope (Anderson).

Questions that arise may include but are not confined to the following: What scope or potential might transnational reading practices offer Australian literature? Can reading Australian literature as a world literature enable us to trace threads of connection beyond the local and the national into transnational space and ‘deep time’ (Dimock)? Is Australian literature a minority or provincial literature embedded uncertainly in international literary space (Casanova)? What was/is the impact of cosmopolitanism on Australian readers and writers, both before and after the formation of the nation as an imagined community? Do threads of citation and allusion extending beyond the space of the nation hold out the possibility of a global civil society, via ‘the playing field called “literary culture” brought into being … by the act of reading’ (Dimock)? Or are they all too often snagged by specialist knowledge and localized epistemologies? How might the above questions be mediated or conditioned by Australia’s settler-colonial context?

Papers will address issues such as the following:

  • national literatures and world literature
  • disciplinary genealogies of national literatures, comparative literature and world literature
  • transnational reading practices
  • national and transnational literary careers, networks, inheritances and/or genealogies
  • national literatures, international space and deep time
  • the provincializing force of local epistemologies/literary acts
  • the internationalizing force of local and/or provincial epistemologies/literary acts
  • literary crossings along local, regional, national, and transnational coordinates
  • Australian literature in the translation zone
  • Australian literature and international modernism
  • literary temporality and national/transnational belonging
  • literary investments in local/global politics of place
  • histories of the book, publishing and print culture in local, national or transnational perspectives
  • transnationalism and the new media


Professor Robert Dixon, FAHA
Professor of Australian Literature
English Department
University of Sydney
NSW 2006

Dr Brigid Rooney
Australian Literature
English Department
University of Sydney
NSW 2006

For enquiries or registrations, please contact .


Download the final program and speakers' abstracts.



Friday 25 May 2012

VENUE: St Andrew’s College








Wai Chee Dimock, ‘Gilgamesh on Three Continents’

CHAIR: Brigid Rooney





(Dining Room)





Australian Literature through German Democratic Republic

Transpacific Poetry



CHAIR: Patrick Buckland


CHAIR: Elizabeth McMahon

(Reading Room)


Russell West-Pavlov, ‘For the Term of His Natural Life behind the wall’

Kate Lilley, ‘Two Jackets and the worlding of Australian poetry’


Nicole Moore, ‘Macht ohne Ruhm?: Australian literature, cold war literature and world literature in the GDR’

Carolyn Masel, ‘Time and place in poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Charles Wright and Chris Wallace-Crabbe’


Christina Spittel, ‘“Our Antipodes”: Australian short stories in the GDR of the 1970s’


Aaron Nyerges, ‘The nodding needle: metaphors of injection, transmission and containment in postwar transpacific poetry’



(Dining Room)





Australian Literature-World Literature 1


Reading Beyond the Nation


CHAIR: David Carter


CHAIR: Russell West-Pavlov

(Reading Room)


Paul Sharrad, ‘Which world and why worry?’

Patrick Buckridge and Eleanor Morecroft, ‘Australia’s world literature: constructing Australia’s global reading relations in the interwar period’


Svend Erik Larsen, ‘Literary history as a cultural challenge’

Bill Ashcroft, ‘Beyond the nation: scenes of the future’


Gillian Whitlock, ‘Outside country’

Elizabeth McMahon, ‘Reading along an archipelago’




(Dining Room)





Australian Literature-World Literature 2


Australian Literary Internationalism


CHAIR: Svend Erik Larsen


CHAIR: Bernadette Brennan

(Reading Room)


Mridula Nath Chakraborty, ‘What is wrong with being a national literature?: Australia in its imaginary’

David Carter, ‘Traduit de l’americain: Thomas Keneally and the mechanics of an international career’


Ihab Hassan, ‘Janglican, Janglarian, and the Cracks of Globalization

Paul Giles, ‘J. M. Coetzee and the transnationalization of Australian literature’


Nicholas Jose, ‘Cheeky’: Australian Literature and World Literature


Brigitta Olubas, ‘Shirley Hazzard’s The Great Fire, war  crimes trials and the ‘White Australia Policy’’


5.30 for 6.00


(John Woolley Building A20, Woolley Common Room)


The Novels of Alex Miller: An Introduction, edited by Robert Dixon (Allen & Unwin) to be launched by Stephen Romei, literary editor, the Australian


Republics of Letters: Literary Communities in Australia, edited by Peter Kirkpatrick and Robert Dixon (Sydney University Press) to be launched by Senior Lecturer (UNSW) and co-editor, Southerly, Elizabeth McMahon. 







Saturday 26 May 2012

VENUE: John Woolley Building



Zhao Baisheng, ‘The Nobel Prize in World Literature?’

CHAIR: Robert Dixon

(Woolley Common Room)




(Woolley Lecture Room N497)





Australian Literature through India


Locating Suburbia


Australian Poetry-Transnational Genealogies



CHAIR: Paul Sharrad

(Woolley Common Room)

CHAIR: Georgina Loveridge

(Woolley Lecture Theatre S325)

CHAIR: Kate Lilley

(Woolley Tutorial Room N401)


Meenakshi Bharat, ‘The ubiquitous bond in Australian and Indian fiction’

Belinda Burns, ‘Made in Suburbia: examining “new” intra-suburban tales of transformation of the female protagonist who does not flee’

Colin Dray, ‘Liminal voices: Harwood, Harry and the spectre of Wittgenstein’


Sagar Dan, ‘Australian Aboriginal literature: transnational subjectivities in India’

Jay Daniel Thompson, ‘“I don’t wanna live in this place”: ‘cultural cringe’ in Subtopia and The River Ophelia

Samuel Moginie, ‘Red Bridge: David Campbell in the 1970s’


Rochelle Almeida, ‘Dingos Bark Back: Anglo-Indian Immigrant Writing in Australia’


Stephen Mansfield, ‘Can a working class boy from Cessnock choose his literary ancestry?: reading John Hughes’s citational autobiographies’

Jean Page, ‘Re-visiting the globe: the twin sea quests of Fernando Pessoa (Mensagem, 1934) and James McAuley (Captain Quiros, 1964)’



(Woolley Lecture Room N497)





Transnational Australian Fictions 1

Transnational Australian Fictions 2

Transnational Australian Fictions 3



CHAIR: Peter Kirkpatrick

(Woolley Common Room)

CHAIR: Paul Giles

(Woolley Lecture Theatre S325)

CHAIR: Brigitta Olubas

(Woolley Tutorial Room N401)


Ben Holgate, ‘Re-situating Richard Flanagan’s Gould’s Book of Fish as world literature: a magical realist reading’

Brigid Rooney, ‘Time's abyss: Sydney Harbour as scene of literary modernism’

Bernadette Brennan, ‘Worlds without and within: Patrick White’s The Solid Mandala and the relevance of transnational theory’


Bree Hickson-Jamieson, ‘Reimagining the literary hoax as collectivity: Peter Carey’s rendering of Malley’

Philip Steer, ‘The world literature of settler colonialism: the transnational career, forms and themes of G. B. Lancaster’

Georgina Loveridge, ‘“A new continent into literature”: Patrick White’s world literature’


Clare Archer-Lean, ‘Transnational impulses in Colin Johnson’s (Mudrooroo’s) fiction’

Lynda Ng, ‘Inheriting the world: Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt, the Holocaust and Australia’s multicultural identity’

Fiona Morrison, ‘Poverty, obscurity, struggle: Christina Stead’s Seven Poor Men of Sydney and the transnational moment’



(Woolley Lecture Room N497)





Transcultural Dynamics

Re-Reading Classic Australian Fiction

Transnational Dynamics


CHAIR: Gillian Whitlock

(Woolley Common Room)

CHAIR: Nicole Moore

(Woolley Lecture Theatre S325)

CHAIR: Nicholas Jose

(Woolley Tutorial Room N401)


Alison Broinowski, ‘Divided countries, sundered selves’

Miriam Jassy, ‘Tom Collins, Leopold Bloom: colonial Zeligs, cosmopolitan prophets’

Roanna Gonsalves, ‘Creating the creators: case studies of transnational writers’


Irini Savvides, ‘Returning: An examination of weaving lace and weaving stories focusing on Cypriot poet Angela Costi’

Margaret Carkeet, ‘Sybylla’s bush Bildung: My Brilliant Career and the coming-of-age novel’

D’Arcy Randall, ‘Reading Australia like an American'


Yasuko Claremont, ‘Reaching beyond cultural borders: Leslie Greener’s No Time to Look Back

Robert Clarke and Marguerite Nolan, ‘Reading The Secret River

Sonia Mycak, ‘The Ukrainian-Australian literary field: national and transnational perspectives’

5.30 for 6.00


(Woolley Common Room)


For past conferences, our delegates have found Rydges Camperdown Hotel and Mercure Sydney Hotel to provide convenient, moderately-priced accommodation. Both are located at close proximity to the University.

Rydges Camperdown Hotel
9 Missenden Road Camperdown NSW 2050
Phone:+61 2 9516 1522

Mercure Sydney Hotel
818 - 820 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Toll Free 1800 633 948
P +61 2 9217 6666 F +61 2 9217 6616

For cheaper options, there are a number of backpackers' hostels in the vicinity.

1. Y Hotel Hyde Park
5-11 Wentworth Avenue, Sydney 2000.
T 1800 994 994
F (02)9285 6288

2. Sydney Backpackers Hostel - Sydney Central YHA
11 Rawson Place, Corner of Pitt Street and Rawson Place (opposite Central Station), Sydney 2000.
T (02)9218 9000
F (02)9218 9099

3. City Central Backpackers
707 George Street, Sydney 2000.
T (02)9211 9999
F (02)9212 4833

N.B. These have not been tried by the University.