In search of the Never-Never
: the Northern Territory metaphor in Australian writing, 1837-1992

  • Michelle Sue Dewar

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    For more than one hundred and fifty years, the Northern Territory has been represented in Australian writing as a region of special significance. The process of defining the Northern Territory as a literary construct and the ensuing dialogue between outback and urban themes, focussed the writing within the debate concerning national identity. Territory literature embraces subjects arising from colonisation, attitudes to the environment and the place of Aborigines. These issues remain fundamental to establishing both an identity and legitimacy for non-Aboriginal settlers in Australia. The Northern Territory became the theatre where these unresolved issues could be played out. An examination of the social and intellectual climate of the periods through the lives of the authors, and the assumptions, images and themes of the books, reveals a progression of attitudes and values inherent in the settler culture. The literary construction of the Northern Territory became the metaphor for European occupation of Australia. The perseverance of the Northern Territory as a subject for Australian writing, apparently disproportionate to its population, geographic location, or economic significance, suggests that the metaphor remains relevant.
    Date of AwardMar 1993
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDavid Carment (Supervisor) & Alan Powell (Supervisor)

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