Staking a claim in the mining and discursive fields: eight Mount Isa novels

Taylor, Cheryl (2009) Staking a claim in the mining and discursive fields: eight Mount Isa novels. In: Papers from the ASAL 2009 Conference. pp. 1-11. From: ASAL 2009: Common Readers and Cultural Critics, 8-12 July 2009, Canberra, ACT, Australia. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

From the coastal perspective of most Australians, Mt Isa is remote, poised on the line where known landscapes merge into the shimmering uncertainty of desert mirages. Yet the mining town's central position in northern Australia embodies its solid status as an Australian icon. Attracted since 1923 by profit or wages, residents have converged on Mt Isa from distant parts of the continent and the world. Later they have scattered as if from a spinning hub, taking tales of their experience to the four corners of the nation. Seven Mt Isa novels published between 1948 and 2002 helped to negotiate the transition of the Australian digger and outback legends into the twentieth century. The struggle between the gougers, companies and workers for rights over the mining field therefore found a parallel in the struggle for possession of the discursive field in texts that converted the life of Mt Isa into fiction. The novels discussed in this paper are Vance Palmer's Golconda trilogy (1948-1957), Betty Collins’ The Copper Crucible (1966, republished 1996), Kay Brown’s Knock Ten: A Novel of Mining Life (1976), John Jost's Kangaroo Court (1979), and Keith De Lacey's Blood Stains the Wattle (2002). Their narratives crystallise the class and gender conflicts, and the struggle for economic security and acceptance by later immigrants, that are typical of Australian society, whether urban, regional or remote.

Item ID: 17192
Item Type: Conference Item (Non-Refereed Research Paper)
Keywords: Mt Isa; mining; novel; Kay Brown; John Jost; Betty Collins; Geoffrey Blainey; Vance Palmer; Ian Syson
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Funders: James Cook University, FAESS and SASS, ARC LIEF 2009
Projects and Grants: ARC LIEF AustLit Project 2009
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2014 04:49
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2005 Literary Studies > 200502 Australian Literature (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Literature) @ 80%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History) @ 20%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 20%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950203 Languages and Literature @ 80%
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