Ambiguous, Ambivalent and Settler Colonial: Redefining Australian Nationalism in the Interwar Period
Dan’s thesis examines three influential Australian nationalist intellectuals of the interwar period (1919-1939): editor, publisher and polemicist P. R. “Inky” Stephensen, poet Rex Ingamells and novelist Xavier Herbert. It seeks to reframe received understandings of these individuals’ work and significance through the application of a settler colonial studies interpretive perspective. The hypothesis that will be tested relates to the political and cultural positioning of nationalist intellectuals within Australian historiographies. It asks: should we understand them on the one hand, in cultural terms, as either nativists or loyalists, as exemplars of either the direct or inverted configurations of Phillips’ cultural cringe, or rather as ambiguous and ambivalent combinations of the two. On the other, it asks whether we should understand them, in political terms, as either left-wing or right-wing, as a combination of these political paradigms, or instead as part of an alternative, autonomous and typically settler colonial political and cultural tradition. The project works within and against existing theorisations of nationalism, the historiographies of Australian nationalism and national culture and identity, along with the historiographies concerned with these figures in particular and their intellectual-cultural context more generally. Drawing on the literature elaborating a settler colonial studies interpretive perspective in order to propose a series of original and alternative interpretations, the project seeks to reframe received understandings of Australian literary and political culture in the interwar period. (Supervised by Lorenzo Veracini and Julie Kimber).