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Seeking the Centre

Seeking the Centre
The Australian Desert in Literature, Art and Film

$89.95 (G)

  • Date Published: January 1999
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521571111

$ 89.95 (G)

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About the Authors
  • This is a book about the Australian desert and its central impact on Australian culture, from traditional Aboriginal art to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Starting with the Aboriginal understanding of the spiritual significance of the desert, it traces the attempts of the early colonists to conquer this alien space; the changing estimate of the inland explorers in fiction and art as heroes, failures, or psychological studies of obsession; the rediscovery of the desert in the twentieth century by travelers, artists, novelists, photographers and film makers; its interest for ecotourism and as a spiritual experience.

    • Interdisciplinary study, encompassing Aboriginal traditions, colonial attitudes, literature, art, film, popular culture and tourism
    • Breadth of subject area matched by historical span from before colonisation to the present day
    • Highly illustrated, including fifty colour plates
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "This brilliant book studies the Australian desert in that country's culture, past and present, from an extraordinarily comprehensive viewpoint that covers geology, ecology and history, as well as literature, film and painting (Aboriginal as well as European)....This work marks a change in Australian perspective, an illustrious achievement in the century that is closing. Most highly recommended for all collections at all levels." Choice

    "Haynes, an Associate Professor in English at the University of New South Wales, demonstrates a dexterity and intellectual athleticism in Seeking the Centre that is sometimes lacking in other commentaries of the Australian postcolonial situation...Hayne's wide, yet incredibly specific, range of research and analyses provide more than ample evidence that the Australian desert as cultural symbol is stronger than it ever was." Yearbook of COmparative and General Literature

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 1999
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521571111
    • length: 364 pages
    • dimensions: 258 x 183 x 31 mm
    • weight: 0.975kg
    • contains: 16 b/w illus. 50 colour illus. 4 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The land is a map: the Aboriginal relationship to the desert
    2. Forms, images, imaginings: European myths of the desert
    3. The 'hideous blank': imperatives for discovery
    4. Geography is never innocent: or, what the explorers thought they saw
    5. Perspectives on the desert: the art of exploration
    6. 'On the tracts of thirst and furnace': dead explorers and national identity
    7. Ripping yarns at the outpost of empire: the desert as adventure
    8. From 'dead heart' to 'red centre': travellers' tales and the lure of gold
    9. Seeing red: twentieth-century art of the desert
    10. A gothic desert: psychodrama in fiction and film
    11. Revisioning the explorers in twentieth-century art
    12. Transforming myths: the explorers in twentieth-century literature
    13. Seeing through biology: contemporary artists examine the desert
    14. The desert in the Age of Aquarius: environmentalism and renewal
    15. The art of reconciliation.

  • Author

    Roslynn D. Haynes, University of New South Wales, Sydney

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