(Re)claiming Barbara Baynton’s Gothic Creek: An Analysis of Gillian Mears’ Foals’ Bread and Jessie Cole’s Deeper Water

Alexandra Philp


The creek is a threatening site for women in Barbara Baynton’s Bush Studies (1902). The female characters in her stories are routinely represented as vulnerable, drowning, or murdered at the creek, and the slippery banks and murky waters have been established by Baynton as an Australian gothic space where women (and their bodies) are denied agency. Gillian Mears and Jessie Cole are two contemporary writers who challenge Baynton’s representation of the gothic creek. The female protagonists in their most recent Australian gothic novels, Noah in Mears’ Foal’s Bread (2011) and Mema in Cole’s Deeper Water (2014), understand the creek as a subversive site that accommodates alternative female corporeal experiences. While Noah in Foal’s Bread finds body autonomy in her use of the creek as a birthing space for her firstborn child, Mema in Deeper Water experiences body empowerment in her use of the creek as a space of sexual awakening. Though the gothic creek is a fearful site for women in Baynton’s establishing Australian gothic text, Bush Studies, both Foal’s Bread and Deeper Water demonstrate that the contemporary gothic creek is able to (re)negotiated as a site of female body autonomy and empowerment. 


Australian Gothic; female body; empowerment; Australian Literature

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.25120/etropic.16.2.2017.3618


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