English Seminar: Climate justice, world literature and Alexis Wright
Lynda Ng: Climate justice, world literature and Alexis Wright
After her novel, Carpentaria, was published to widespread acclaim in 2006, Alexis Wright’s ascent as a world literary author has seemed swift and assured. The strength of her international reputation was consolidated earlier this year by the news that Carpentaria had been selected as a compulsory text on the French agrégation curriculum, a national examination for future English teachers. This is the first time in fifty years that an Australian text has been included on the list. The captive audience that Wright’s work has found overseas is all the more remarkable given the few concessions she makes in her work to the traditional English novel. She reconceives the novel, instead, as a highly localised form capable of capturing an Aboriginal Weltanschauung.
This paper examines Wright’s unusual position as a writer who sits at the intersection of world literature and postcolonial theory, two theoretical paradigms that are frequently cast as being in opposition to one another. I argue that Wright’s work imbues the world literary paradigm with an extranational political dimension, and demonstrates how important lessons might be translated from Aboriginal activism to the broader, global fight for climate justice.
Lynda Ng is an Honorary Associate with the School of Languages and Cultures at the University of Sydney, and also an Adjunct Fellow with the Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University. She is the editor of Indigenous Transnationalism: Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria (2018) and has a chapter on Alexis Wright in The Cambridge Companion to the Australian Novel (forthcoming, 2022). In addition to her work on Aboriginal literature, she has published articles on inter-imperialism, literary censorship and neoliberalism. In 2019, she won the Margaret Church MFS Memorial Prize for the best essay published in MFS: Modern Fiction Studies the previous year.
This event will be held online via Zoom.
Contact: Liam Semler (firstname.lastname@example.org).