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Unbecoming-of-age : Australian grunge fiction, the Bildungsroman and the long labor decade

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Christie, Michael Robert (2009) Unbecoming-of-age : Australian grunge fiction, the Bildungsroman and the long labor decade. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This thesis interprets and explains changes in aspects of the Australian literary
and political fields that occurred during the period sociologist Peter Beilharz has
named the long Labor decade: 1983 to 1996. During this period tropes of youth,
illness and mobility, and the Bildungsroman form were central to the textual
embedding, via the putative modernisation of Australian Labourism, of
Neoliberalism in Australian political culture. This thesis's central argument is
that at its best Grunge and post-Grunge literary fiction both register and attempt
to resist Neoliberal governmentality through the tropes of youth, illness and
mobility, and through the Bildungsroman form.
The introduction surveys the critical reception of Grunge fiction and presents the
thesis' central literary-theoretical concepts which are taken from Franco Moretti
and Fredric Jameson's historical sociology of literary form. It argues that the
effective application of these methods of literary history to Grunge fiction
requires a locally and temporally specific historical sociology and that Peter
Beilharz's Transforming Labor is a productive text from which to further generate
a late twentieth-century Australia-centred historical sociology.
Chapter one analyses the textuality of the non-fiction writing of the long Labor
decade through Beilharz's hermeneutic historical sociology. After establishing its
key terms the chapter moves into three studies of central figures and texts of the
period: prime ministers Gough Whitlam and Paul Keating, and Paul Kelly's The
End of Certainty.
Chapter two reads the oeuvres of Frank Moorhouse and Amanda Lohrey against
the loss of Whitlam and Whitlamism and the emergence of Neoliberal forms of
government. It also interprets The Reading Group and Forty-Seventeen - two of
their pre-Grunge novels - against the post-Whitlam sense of mourning and loss. Chapter three returns to Grunge fiction and reads Andrew McGahan's Praise and
1988 and Christos Tsiolkas' Loaded in affiliation with the Neoliberal textuality of
the stories told by and of Keating.
Chapter four utilises the analysis of The End of Certainty to read three postGrunge
novels. Elliot Penman's Three Dollars, Andrew McCann's Subtopia and
Anthony Macris' Capital, volume one are interpreted and explained as responses
to the embedding of Neoliberalism in Australian and global political culture that
Kelly's master-work participates in through its use of the Bildungsroman form.
The thesis concludes with a short survey of other fiction of the period and a brief
outline of areas for future research suggested by the thesis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Autobiographical fiction, Australian, Bildungsromans, Australian, Coming of age
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2009 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s)

Additional Information:

Available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2009. Includes bibliographical references

Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2014 00:57
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:53
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