What Lies Between

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


In The Plains Gerald Murnane’s strong pictographic imagination takes us to a nether world of ideas and sensations that are generated through undulating word patterns and speculations. Every word matters like a topographical mark in contributing to the novel’s overall design. There is an egalitarianism to his vision of flat plains whose horizons are every-expanding. A spirit of exploration is also evoked through a narrator-character whose journey to the interior of Australia is a personal voyage toward the self. But unlike the physical world of plains and grasslands, the interior realm of the self is difficult to navigate. The true plains cannot be captured in photographs or maps: the conceits of representation are just too limiting. However, the gap between the map and the territory, the physical world and its representation, is perhaps resolved by the idea that our skins are territories unto themselves that record our ageing and memories. The question is: would we recognize the canvas of our own skin if it was somehow detached from our bodies and rolled out like a map? This is perhaps a question of perspective. Being too close means we cannot see. The true plains are invisible landscapes of the mind: worlds in this one.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventAnother World in this One: Gerald Murnane's Fiction: A One-Day Literary Symposium - Goroke Golf Club, Goroke, Australia
Duration: 07 Dec 201707 Dec 2017


ConferenceAnother World in this One: Gerald Murnane's Fiction
Abbreviated titleGerald Murnane's Fiction
Other‘World literature’ is now a field in its own right within literary studies. Over the last twenty years, those in this field have asked questions relating to global systems of power, dissemination, exchange, translation, and interpretation, with critics tending to work from systemic analyses to particular texts. Counter-critiques have variously stressed literature’s irreducible specificity, its own peculiar world-making capacities, its resistances to commodification, and commitments to ideal forms of world literature that are opposed to globalization.

Other Worlds: Forms of World Literature engages with questions of world literature and literary worldedness not on the basis of prior theoretical commitments but as world literature is currently being elaborated by four eminent Australian writers: Alexis Wright, Nicholas Jose, Gail Jones and J.M. Coetzee. The project centres on the interests and dialogues of these writers as they themselves produce new spheres of world literary possibility.

Our themes explore visions of world literature that set out from these writers’ idiosyncratic engagements with the literatures of the world. Our only premises are that creative practice is itself a way thinking and that new theoretical possibilities can arise from the exchange between it and criticism. The project involves critical and creative dialogues between indigenous and non-indigenous Australia, Argentina and South Africa, China, and Europe, affording a unique opportunity to think about how contemporary Australian writing might meaningfully be said to be enacting world literature.
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