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Postcolonial Encounters in the former British Empire

  • ECTS

    6 crédits

  • Code Apogée


  • Composante(s)

    UFR Langues et Civilisations

  • Période de l'année

    Semestre 3


“Re-writing First Encounters in Contemporary Australian Literature”.

The second half of this seminar will focus on Kate Grenville’s novel The Lieutenant (2008). This is the second novel in a trilogy set in the very early days of the British colonisation of Australia. The protagonist, Daniel Rooke, is based on William Dawes (1762-1836), a marine with a keen interest in astronomy who volunteered to go on the First Fleet of convicts sent to Australia in 1788. He was fascinated by Aboriginal culture and attempted to write a grammar and dictionary of the local Aboriginal language. He was forced to return to Britain after making known his disapproval of a retaliatory expedition against the Aborigines.

The Lieutenant is one of several Australian novels published at the turn of the twenty-first century which revisit early Australian history in an attempt both to challenge traditional history, which systematically excluded the Indigenous population, and to deal with the guilt of being descended from of people responsible for massacring Indigenous Australians.

Classes will explore the relationship between history and fiction. Topics covered will include the use of historical sources in a work of fiction, Aboriginal language, the depiction of violence, the creation of a sense of place and an exploration of the changing notions of Self and Other.

This seminar will be conducted in English. International students are welcome.

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Contrôle des connaissances

You will be evaluated in two different ways: one oral/ one written. At the beginning of the semester (week 2) each student will sign up for one oral presentation either in the first or the second half of the semester. Students will also complete a piece of written work from a list of topics concerning the other half of the semester.

Students who cannot attend the seminar on a regular basis are invited to contact both Laurence Machet and Susan Barrett by email early in September. They will have to write a paper on each half of the semester.

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Informations complémentaires

Ouvert aux étudiant·es en mobilité sous réserve du nombre de places disponibles. 

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Required reading (before the first class):

Kate Grenville, The Lieutenant (2008), Canongate Books edition 2010


Recommended Reading:

  • Clendinnen, Inga. Dancing with Strangers (2005)
  • Grenville, Kate. The Secret River (2005)
  • Grenville, Kate. Searching for the Secret River (2007)
  • Scott, Kim & Hazel Brown. Kayang & Me (2005)
  • The Notebooks of William Dawes on the Aboriginal Language of Sydney:
  • https://www.williamdawes.org/



  • Ashcroft, Bill, The Empire Writes Back : Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures (1989)
  • Ashcroft Bill et.al. (eds) The Post-Colonial Studies Reader (1995)
  • Ashcroft Bill et.al. Post-Colonial Studies: The Key Concepts (2000)
  • Atkinson, Alan. The Europeans in Australia: A history. Volume One (1977)
  • Attwood Bain, Telling The Truth About Aboriginal History (2005)
  • Curthoys Ann, John Docker. Is History Fiction? (2010)
  • Gibson Ross. (2010) “Patyegarang and William Dawes: the Space of Imagination”. In: Mar T.B., Edmonds P. (eds) Making Settler Colonial Space. Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • Kossow Sue, Lighting Dark Places: Essays on Kate Grenville (2010)
  • MacIntyre Stuart, A Concise History of Australia (2004)
  • Ricoeur Paul, Memory, History Forgetting. (2006 translation)
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