For the past three years, considerable media and governmental attention has been directed towards the study of Australian literature. This focus on the ways in which schools and universities teach and select Australian literature has been reflected in many articles printed in the mainstream media (for example: Neill, 2006; Donnelly, 2007; O'Connor, 2007; Topsfield, 2007) and in governmental and institutional responses to this issue. In August 2007, the Australia Council for the Arts convened an Australian Literature in Education Roundtable. Since the publication of the Communique following this event, the first national survey of the teaching of Australian literature in senior secondary and tertiary institutions has been completed and the first comprehensive anthology of Australian literature has been published (Jose, 2009). An interest in the teaching of Australian literature is particularly evident in both the selection of the material for the Macquarie Pen Anthology (Goldsworthy, 2009), and also in the extensive support material provided free online designed for secondary teachers which accompanies this substantive volume. Further, and most significantly, the debate about the teaching of Australian literature, as I have argued elsewhere (McLean Davies 2008a, 2008b and 2009) has significantly influenced the various iterations of the Australian curriculum for English released since October 2008.In light of the sustained and considerable interest in the teaching of Australian literature, and the ways in which the debate around this issue has informed the development of the Australian Curriculum for English, the purpose of this paper is twofold. First, I will draw on Pierre Bourdieu's notions of capital, legitimacy and consecration (Bourdieu, 1993; Moi, 1999) in order to analyse and critique the way in which first complete draft of The Australian Curriculum: English-released on March 30, 2010-represents, defines and positions the study of Australian literature in subject English. I will consider the extent to which the representation of Australian literature in current draft of the Australian Curriculum: English resonates with the rationale, to create a curriculum which will help students to "extend a deepen their relationships, to understand their identities and their place in a changing world, and to become citizens and workers who are ethical, thoughtful and informed" (ACARA, 2010, p1).In response to this analysis, and in the absence of explicit pedagogical approaches to the teaching of literature in the Australian Curriculum: English, the second part of the paper will draw on and appropriate Ken Gelder's recent work on "proximate reading" (Gelder, 2009) in order to suggest a framework for teaching and studying Australian literature in subject English. I will argue, in this substantive part of the paper, that a 'proximate pedagogy' which directs attention to issues of closeness and distance in Australian writing can provide a useful framework for the teaching of Australian literature in a globalised, post-colonial context. In order to advance this contention, I will draw on Richard Flanagan's award winning novel Wanting (2008), a text marketed for use in senior English classes. By offering a reading of this text in terms of proximity, I will explore the study of Australian literature might 'make a difference' to the ways in which secondary school students engage with the complexities facing Australian writers and readers as they negotiate concepts of nation, identity and belonging in the 21st century.
|Number of pages||14|
|Journal||AARE 2010 conference proceedings & program|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|
|Event||Australian Association for Research in Education Conference - Melbourne|
Duration: 28 Nov 2010 → 2 Dec 2010