Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Communications and Arts

Faculty

Education and Arts

First Advisor

Dr Donna Mazza

Second Advisor

Dr Robyn Mundy

Abstract

The creative work, The Wounded Sinner, and the accompanying exegesis, form a volume of writing that considers aspects of place and belonging in a contemporary Australian context through the agencies of Aboriginality, migration and homelessness. While these issues are present and, at times, contentious in the structure of modern Australian society they have roots in past eras of empire building, racism and the movement from agrarianism to industrialisation. The characters are drawn from my own experiences and, as such, validate both the creative work and give the exegesis substance.

Jeanie Bayona is an Aboriginal woman who was raised, from infancy, by an Anglo family in Perth. She and her partner, Matthew, a fellow teacher, move to Leonora in the eastern goldfields, the lands of the ‘dingo dreamers,’ her people. Jeanie is for many years content to exist on the edge of Aboriginal society, reluctant to leave the security of the ‘white’ life she had grown up with. However, her eldest daughter, Jaylene, already enmeshed in both worlds, challenges Jeanie to answer the spiritual calling to embrace her roots.

Matthew Andrews is chasing the elusive dream to become a writer while nursing his ailing father in the ancestral home, The Wounded Sinner, in Guildford. He lacks the ability to do either well. Still, it keeps him away from the responsibility of fatherhood three weeks out of four and for that he is secretly grateful. However, five years of commuting from Leonora to Perth has strained Jeanie and Matthew’s relationship, though Matthew rarely sees anything outside of his ego-centric world.

Both Jeanie and Matthew engage in new relationships: she with the perverse Ben Poulson and he, the troubled Vince Romano and homeless ex-Vietnam veteran, Lazslo Smith. The central character of the creative work, however, is the old Guildford house, The Wounded Sinner, which symbolises the old establishment values that were, for better or worse, the values that built Australia. Australia is undergoing change which The Wounded Sinner is raggedly reluctant to accept. It remains a bastion of Anglo-Celtic ideals and is personified through Matthew’s father, Archie, as he rails against what he sees as the ‘problems’ of contemporary Australia: the homeless, the Aboriginals and the non-Anglo Australians.

The exegesis, titled ‘A stirring of cultures: the contest for place, belonging and identity in Australia,’ explains through the experiences of migrants, Aboriginal Australians and the homeless the problems and difficulties of those who don’t meet the strict criteria of the core values representing Anglo-Celtic society. The contest for place, belonging and identity in Australia as expressed in my creative work, The Wounded Sinner, is exemplified in the exegesis around those aforementioned themes and corroborated throughout by a wide authorship, both present and past. Interspersed through the text, too, are personal reflections of relevant episodes that have contributed to my understanding of Australian society and how I am part of it.

Comments

Access to this thesis - is restricted to the thesis exegesis and to current ECU staff and students by author's request. Email request to library@ecu.edu.au

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