1st Edition

Rethinking the Victim Gender and Violence in Contemporary Australian Women's Writing

By Anne Brewster, Sue Kossew Copyright 2019
    250 Pages
    by Routledge

    250 Pages
    by Routledge

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    This book is the first to examine gender and violence in Australian literature. It argues that literary texts by Australian women writers offer unique ways of understanding the social problem of gendered violence, bringing this often private and suppressed issue into the public sphere. It draws on the international field of violence studies to investigate how Australian women writers challenge the victim paradigm and figure women’s agencies. In doing so, it provides a theoretical context for the increasing number of contemporary literary works by Australian women writers that directly address gendered violence, an issue that has taken on urgent social and political currency.

    By analysing Australian women’s literary representations of gendered violence, this book rethinks victimhood and agency, particularly from a feminist perspective. One of its major innovations is that it examines mainstream Australian women’s writing alongside that of Indigenous and minoritised women. In doing so it provides insights into the interconnectedness of Australia’s diverse settler, Indigenous and diasporic histories in chapters that examine intimate partner violence, violence against Indigenous women and girls, family violence and violence against children, and the war and political violence.

    Introduction.  Chapter 1: Intimate Violations: Gothic and Romance.  Chapter 2: Violence Against Women and Girls: Indigenous women’s activist poetry.  Chapter 3: Broken Families, Vulnerable Children.  Chapter 4: War and Political Violence.  Conclusion.


    Associate Professor Anne Brewster is at the University of New South Wales. Her books include Giving This Country a Memory: Contemporary Aboriginal Voices of Australia, (2015), Literary Formations: Postcoloniality, Nationalism, Globalism (1996) and Reading Aboriginal Women's Autobiography (1995, 2015). She is series editor for Australian Studies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives.

    Professor Sue Kossew is Chair of English/Literary Studies at Monash University. Her research is in contemporary postcolonial and women’s literatures, particularly J.M. Coetzee and contemporary Australian and South African women writers. Her books include Writing Woman, Writing Place: Australian and South African Fiction (Routledge, 2004). She is co-editing Reading Coetzee’s Women.

    "Rethinking the Victim is ground-breaking on several accounts. As the authors note, it is the first monograph to tackle in a systematic way the topic of gender and violence in contemporary Australian fiction by women…it constitutes a magnificent and comprehensive archive of texts that testifies to the enormous richness, depth and craft of female authors from Down Under." Bárbara Arizti, European Association for Studies of Australia

    "Rethinking the Victim is a significant and timely study which will be invaluable to readers and scholars interested in its topic, as well as providing a body of work that others will draw on." Delys Bird, Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature

    "Rethinking the Victim is a remarkable feat and, notably, the very first book to examine gender and violence in Australian literature. How can it have taken this long? This is an important, intricate book which gathers together a wealth of literary analysis. The breadth of research and the depth of compassion is clear on every page." Sophie Baggott, Mascara Literary Review

    "Brewster and Kossew’s study is a reminder that the feminist campaigns on issues of gendered violence that now call us to account so powerfully have a long history, and feminist activism on domestic violence surged before, in the 1970s. The time for this book is now, as Australian women take to the streets in a national ‘March 4 Justice’ to hold leaders accountable on issues of sexual assault, and demand to be heard." Gillian Whitlock, Contemporary Women’s Writing

    "Violence against women is both systemic and individual. The book provides a passionate and engaged analysis of the ways in which violence against many differently positioned women is illuminated by considering the literary texts women themselves have generated." --Sneja Gunew, Professor Emerita, English & Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, University of British Columbia, Canada).

    "Gender-based violence is a global problem that continues to stifle women and girls. This book is the first sustained investigation of gendered violence in Australian literature, a persuasive and timely study well-appointed for scholarly consultation by readers interested in gender and women studies as well as by readers researching violence and trauma or Indigenous and multicultural issues." -- Barbara Schmidt-Haberkamp, Bonn University