michaelgriffith (michaelgriffith) wrote,
michaelgriffith
michaelgriffith

First Week of Teaching

A great start to teaching this week in all classes. In Australian Literature we launched into "The Mountain's Own Meaning".... what on earth is that? some asked!.... we explored the way Judith Wright and others see the exploitative attitude towards Australia -brought by the first European and British settlers- was an attitude that did not serve this country or its inhabitants well.... this week we are going to look at Alexis Wright's (no relation to Judith) depiction of how that attitude was responsible for so much devastation amongst the Aboriginal communities of Australia.... Alexis Wright's book is one of the latest crop of young Aboriginal novelists who are trying to reclaim dignity for and understanding of their culture... one of the best mid-twentieth century European born artists to begin this process of reclamation was Russell Drysdale:

This is one of the images you will see when we go to the NSW art gallery later in the semester.... a stunning depiction of how tribal aboriginal communities have suffered under the impact of the invasion of "Western Culture".
And here is the contemporary Aboriginal artist's amazing fibreglass sculpture "Fruit Bats" which shows how contemporary Aboriginal artists can challenge our "Western" life-style with subversive images:

This is Lin Onus and you will see his sculpture in the Art Gallery as well... he takes one of the icons of so-called "Progress"... the Hills Hoist.... most of you won't realize that this was a revolutionary design for drying clothes back in the 1950s and 60s.... and Lin Onus covers the thing with fruit bats... and all their nibbled blossoms are on the floor underneath.... here Aboriginality is getting its own back on the tyranny of the West! Check out this site for some info on Lin Onus: http://www.theblurb.com.au/Issue27/LinOnus.htm
In Twentieth Century Literature we launched into the background of 20th Century ideas as a prelude to working on Conrad's Heart of Darkness... this continues this week.... alongside this we had some great tutorials on Thomas Hardy and A.E.Houseman which gave a flavour of where poets where at the turn of the century. Thomas Hardy in particular represents the artist in the grip of despair and yet finding in the act of writing poetry itself a relief and a source of hope. Here is an image of Hardy in his old age.... at the time he was writing "The Darkling Thrush"

And here is a painting by Norman Stevens inspired by Hardy's poem:

In William Blake: The Visionary Imagination (the Third Year Unit this semester) we explored some of the key ideas in Blake's work and the ways in which his poetry and painting has impacted on the Australian consciousness... there is something subversive about the Australian mentality- this must go back to the colonial opposition to imperialist rule in this country- that HAS made Blake a very attractive figure for Australian artists and writers... they see in him the power of freedom from tyranny.... we explored this radicalism of his in "The School Boy" with its attack on conventional education and on adult restraints...
How can the bird that is born for joy,
Sit in a cage and sing?
How can a child when fears annoy,
But droop his tender wing,
And forget his youthful spring?
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