Postcolonialism in Australian Literature: The Case of Miles Franklin (1879-1954)

Covers of Miles Franklin's "My Brilliant Career" (1901); & "All That Swagger" (1936)
Covers of Miles Franklin's "My Brilliant Career" (1901); & "All That Swagger" (1936)

This seminar brings together postcolonial literary theory and contemporary political theory. Students of Australian politics tend to separate political and literary theory, preferring to leave literary theory to experts in Australian and comparative literature. My aim here is to draw the two modes of theory closer together. My intention is to use postcolonial literary theory to highlight important political characteristics in the literary career of pioneering Australian feminist writer Miles Franklin. Although postcolonialism is a prominent feature in the academic analysis of Australian literature, more work can still be done in at least two areas: refining models of postcolonial literary theory; and exploring examples of Australian literature with postcolonial promise. My method here is to explore both areas to promote a richer understanding of the political nature of literature in Australia. First I explore the remarkable pioneer of postcolonial literary theory: Edward Said (1935-2003) whose work frequently informs Australian literary analysis. Second I explore the role of Miles Franklin as an exemplar of the kind of writer engaged in disruptive postcolonial insurgency so keenly valued by Edward Said.

John Uhr is Emeritus Professor of Politics in the Research School of Social Sciences at the ANU. He has taught courses on political theory and on Australian politics at the ANU since 1990. He published ‘Literary Theory in Henry Fielding’s Jonathan Wild’ in Interpretation 2022. His recent books include Novel Politics: studies in Australian political fiction (MUP 2020), co-written with Shaun Crowe; Performing Political Theory (Palgrave 2018); and Leadership Performance and Rhetoric, co-written with Adam Masters (Palgrave 2017).

Zoom Details
Meeting ID: 872 4624 1202
Password: CALC2023 

Date & time

Thu 21 Sep 2023, 6.30–8pm


Zoom Only, please email the event contact for details


Emeritus Professor John Uhr, ANU


Monique Rooney


Updated:  12 September 2023/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications