Literature: A Step in the Right Direction

Noela McNamara

Abstract


Literature offers the opportunity to encounter worlds beyond one’s own circumstances, environment, and situation. As an intercultural phenomenon, literary critique and analysis without borders can only be achieved by recognising cultural borders. Reading the literature of different cultures opens literary discourses to cross-cultural dialogue, but for too long, the lack of Indigenous literature within Australian literary discourses stymied the social potential of this intercultural phenomenon. Pressure from the global literary community has necessitated a vast shift of white consciousness to actively embrace narratives of different cultural dimensions, and novels that highlight cultural borders have become a key feature of Australian literature. Invisible literary borders have become apparent through exposure to the once silent voices that now emphasise messages of difference. Indigenous writers including Alexis Wright, Sally Morgan, Kim Scott, Jackie Huggins, Anita Heiss, Larissa Behrendt and Alice Nannup have opened reader consciousness to a broad scope of Indigenous perspectives. Within the arena of literary theories, the writer, reader and novels themselves have all had moments of glory, and while particular texts or authors have been immortalised, others have slipped into oblivion. Through the first person narrative of a non-Indigenous woman, this paper reveals how an intercultural literary experience revealed the restrictions of standard literary critique practices and inspired the creation of a relational discourse to engage with Indigenous voices as part of a methodological process. This intercultural literary process has the potential to inspire cultural awareness through acceptance and understanding of difference to overcome cultural unconsciousness. Such development has the capacity to destabilise invisible borders embedding lasting change in the consciousness of Australian readers and provide a foundational and fundamental step toward sustainable outcomes for Indigenous people.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.25120/etropic.13.1.2014.3323

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