Rethinking the Victim : Gender and Violence in Contemporary Australian Women's Writing book cover
1st Edition

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

ISBN 9781138092594
Published March 14, 2019 by Routledge
250 Pages

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents


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


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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.


"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