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Title: The man on the land : classics in colonial Australia
Author: White, Rachael
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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The 'man on the land', in his various guises - pioneer, bushman, farmer, Anzac - is an iconic figure in Australian culture. The nationalist tradition of which he is part has often been seen as vernacular and anti-British, with roots in the democracy of the bush in the nineteenth century. This thesis argues that 'the man on the land' was not autochthonous, and owes much to the classicising influences at work in New South Wales from European settlement to the First World War. It suggests that he is, in many of his manifestations, from smallholding farmer to dutiful soldier, a Virgilian figure, and that Virgil and other Greek and Roman texts were critical to shaping the narratives through which colonial Australians made claims to land. The role of the Classics in Australian culture in the nineteenth century has been largely overlooked, and needs to be reconsidered in the light of recent work on classical receptions in other postcolonial cultures. I look first at the reception of the Georgics in New South Wales; Virgil was central to the popular narrative in which the colony appeared as a nascent Rome. I then turn to counter-narratives in which the Australian continent appears as a classical underworld. I argue that Aboriginal Australians were compared to ancient peoples as part of a discourse that reinforced the idea that they were doomed to extinction. I examine debates over the value of classical education that took place in connection with the establishment of the University of Sydney; the reception of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus in New South Wales; and the reinvigoration of the Virgilian tradition in C. E. W. Bean’s Anzacs. It is argued that recent Australian classical receptions need to be seen in the context of this long and diverse tradition of engagement with the classical past.
Supervisor: Macintosh, Fiona Sponsor: University of Adelaide ; Exeter College ; Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available