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Pacific Literature

ENGL 373 Decolonising Literatures

8 credit points, One 3-hour seminar per week


Instructor:  Dr Paul Sharrad

Head, English Studies

University of Wollongong

Email: psharrad@uow.edu.au



one 'background' quiz (15%), 1 seminar paper (2,000 words min. 35%), one essay (3,000 words, %45), class participation (5%)


Course description:

A one-semester exposure to Pacific Basin writing from a representative range of genres and geographical sources. The primary focus will be on works in English by ethnically indigenous writers, but students' are encouraged to apply their own expertise in vernacular and 'white' literatures of the Pacific. Courses will look at themes and literary techniques common to the region as well as specific qualities related to the societies from which works emerge.


Objectives: students will acquire:

1          an understanding of the concerns and techniques of individual works of literature

2          an ability to relate the works to their general social and cultural context

3          a general awareness of the historical relationships amongst works in the field and between the field and the rest of literature in English

4          some knowledge of the theoretical problems inherent in establishing a field such as 'Pacific literature' within institutionalised structures of study


Class schedule:

Week 1            Introduction: the field, history, myth, reaction

Week 2            R.M. Ballantyne, The Coral Island

Week 3            Harry Dansey, Te Raukura [supplied]

Week 4            Chris Perez Howard, Mariquita

Week 5            early writing [handbook]

Week 6            selected drama [handbook]

Week 7            film Tukana

Week 8            later writing Te Rau Maire

------------Easter break--------------

Week 9            later writing  Bamboo Ridge

Week 10            film Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree

Week 11            Sia Figiel, Where we Once Belonged

Week 12            later writing [handbook]

Week 13            review


final date for submission of all work: Friday, June 9


References:            * = on reserve

basic references

*Subramani, South Pacific Literature: from Myth to Fabulation ,   Suva: University of the South Pacific, 1985

*Paul Sharrad (ed) Readings in Pacific Literature, 1993

*Rob Wilson & Vili Hereniko,  Inside Out: Literature, Cultural Politics and Identity in the New Pacific



            *Pacific edition of CRNLE Reviews Journal, 1989

            *Pacific edition of New Literatures Review, 1989

            *Pacific issue of Meanjin, 4, 1990.

            *Pacific issue of Wasafiri, 25 Spring 1997.

            *Pacific Issue of Manoa, summer 1993  

            *Norman & Ngaire Douglas,Pacific Islands Yearbook

            Bill Pearson, Rifled Sanctuaries. Auckland UP, 1984

            Rod Edmond, Representing the South Pacific, 1997

            Vanessa Smith, Literary Culture and the Pacific, 1998

            Norman Simms, Silence & Invisibility, 1985

            Norman Simms, Writers from the South Pacific, a bio-

            bibliographical critical series of essays on 80 leading writers, Washington: Three Continents, 1989

            Bernard Smith, European Vision and the South Pacific, 1960

            Ron Crocombe, The South Pacific: an Introduction, 1983

            any historical survey of the Pacific

            e.g., *Glen Barclay, A History of the Pacific, 1968

                        Deryk Scarr, A History of the Pacific Islands

                        K.R. Howe, Where the Waves Fall

            critical material scattered through journals such as:

                        Mana, South Pacific Creative Arts Society, Fiji

                        Bamboo Ridge, Honolulu, numbers 13 & 15

                        Pacific Quarterly, Moana, Hamilton NZ

                        World Literature Written in English, Guelph, Canada

                        Journal of Commonwealth Literature, UK

                        Kunapipi, Aarhus , Denmark

                        Landfall, Christchurch NZ

                        Papua New Guinea Writing, Port Moresby

                        Kovave, Port Moresby PNG

                        Ondobondo, University, PNG

                        Bikmaus, Boroko PNG

                        Span, South Pacific Association for Commonwealth Language and Literature Studies

                        Commonwealth/Echos du Commonwealth, Dijon France

                        New Literatures Review, Pacific numbers, 9 and 17

            background material in Pacific Islands Monthly



Reserve Collection:

(articles in folders)

Peter Simpson “The Short Story of the Pacific”

Paul Sharrad “Looking Down at Waves” (poetry reviews)

Isenhagen “Fables of Interculturality”

Paul Sharrad “Imag(in)ing the Pacific”

Review of “Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree” (the book)

Pio Manoa “Singing in the Genealogical Trees”

Richard Hamasaki “Dancing Yet to the Dimdim’s Beat”

Bill McGaw “ PNG Poetry”

Paul Sharrad “PNG Short Stories”

Sina Vai’ai “ Creative Writing in West Polynesia”

Epeli Hauofa “Our Sea of Islands”


a sampling of other commentary:

Simon During, review of Subramani's South Pacific Literature, Landfall 163, 41/3, 1987, p.358

Vilsoni Hereniko & Sig Schwartz, “Talking Chief: the Role of the Critic in a Colonised Pacific” conference paper 1994.

John  O’Carroll, “Pacific Literature: Sketch of a Problematic” Mana   9,2 (1992): 57-67.

Robert Viking O’Brien, “A Melanesian novel of Historical Emergence: Rexford Orotaloa’s ‘Two Times Resurrection’”Ariel 27.3, 1996:   65-76.

Colin Partridge, "The Literatures of New Cultures," in Albert Wendt, Leaves of the Banyan Tree, Auckland: Amirthanayagam & Harrex, Only Connect, CRNLE, 1981, p.30

Subramani, "Artists in a changing South Pacific: the oral Poet and the Writer," in Nandan (ed) Language and Literature, USP,    1983, p.317

Subramani, Altering Imagination, USP 1995

Chris, Tiffin (ed) South Pacific Images, St Lucia: SPACLALS, 1978 (contains reading lists for PNG, SP & NZ)

Rob Wilson, “Towards an Aisa/Pacific Cultural Studies: Literature, Cultural Identity and Struggle in the American Pacific” Studies  in Language and Literature, 7, 1996: 1-18.



Mishra, Vijay, "Indo-Fijian Fiction and the Girmit Ideology," Tiffin,   South Pacific Images, 1980, p.53

Subramani, "Images of Fiji in Literature," in Tiffin, South Pacific  images, 1980, p43



            Stephen Sumida, And the View from the Shore



Arvidson, K.O., "Cultural interaction in the Literature of NZ," in Amirthanayagam & Harrex(eds), Only Connect, CRNLE, 1981, p.265

Barrett, Tia, "Hone Tuwhare, the carver poet, " Commonwealth 7/2,   1985, p.48

Corballis, Richard, "Contemporary Maori Writing in English," in Britte Olinder (ed) A Sense of Place, U Goteborg, 1984, p.34

Corballis, Richard, review of Ihimaera & Long, Into the World of  Light, Landfall, vol371983, p.213

Gadd, Bernard, "Hone Tuwhare in his Poetry," Landfall, vol38, 1984,

Hulme, Keri, "Myth Omen Ghost and Dream," in Sharrad (ed) Poetry  of the Pacific Region, CRNLE, 1984, p.31

Hulme, Keri, Mauri: bi-cultural Poetry in NZ," in Amirthanayagam & Harrex (eds), Only Connect, CRNLE, 1981, p.290

Hulme Keri, review of The Penguin book of NZ Verse (Wedde's),Landfall          vol39, 1985, p.302

James, Trevor, Lost our Birthright forever? The Maori Writer's reinvention of NZ," Span 24, 1987, p.107 (Ihimaera: The Matriarch)

James, Trevor, “Black Literature in the Pacific: the Spider and the Bee,” in Emmanuel S Nelson (ed) Connections: Essays on Black Literatures, Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 1988

Lamb, Johnathan, Problems of Originality: or Beware of Pakehas bearing Guilts, (Wedde's anthology) Landfall, vol40, 1986, p.352

Roberts, Heather, "Two Cultural Attitudes to Death," Landfall 129, 33/1.1979, p.21

Simms, Norman, “Maori & Pacific Writing in NZ,” Pacific Islands Communication Journal, 14/1, 1986

Stead, CK, "Wedde's Inclusions: The Penguin Book of NZ Verse," Landfall, vol39, 1985. p.289

Tiffin, Chris,"Mates Mum and Maui: the theme of Maturity in three Antipodean Novels," (Ihimaera) in Narasimhaiah (ed) Awakened Conscience, New Delhi, 1978.p.127

Wedde, Ian, Introduction to The Penguin Book of NZ Verse, 1985



Chatterjee, Kalyan, “PNG Literature: Innocence and Self Knowledge,” Pacific Islands Communication Journal, 14/1, 1986

Gadd, Bernard, review of Eri's The Crocodile, Landfall vol37, 1983,p.228

Goodwin, Ken, "Invective and Obliqueness in Political Poetry: Kasaipwalova, Brathwaite, and Soyinka," in CD Narasimhaiah  (ed) Awakened  Conscience, New Delhi: Sterling, 1978, p.251

Krauth, Nigel, "Papua New Guinea in recent White Fiction," in Tiffin,   South Pacific Images, 1980, p.32

Nigel Krauth, "Unfolding Like Petals:The Developing Definition of the Writer's Role in Modern Papua New Guinea," ACLALS  Bulletin, 5(1), 1978, p.1.

Krauth, Nigel, White Images of PNG in Literature, St Lucia: UQP, 1982.

McGaw, William, "The Sense of the Past in Pre Independence Papua New Guinean Poetry," in Kirpal Singh (ed) The Writer's Sense of the Past, Singapore: Singapore UP, 1987, p.83



Echos du Commonwealth  no8, special Albert Wendt number with select bibliography

Bardolph, Jacqueline, "Albert Wendt, a new writer from Samoa," in Britte Olinder (ed) A Sense of Place, U Godeborg, 1984, p.42

Davidson, Jim (ed) Sideways from the Page: the Meanjin interviews, Melbourne: Fontana/Collins, l983, interview with Wendt, p.71

Nightingale, Peggy, "All any man with a club can do: Albert Wendt and Witi Ihimaera," in Sellick (ed) Myth and Metaphor, CRNLE, 1982, p.53

Tiffin, Chris, "Mates Mum and Maui: the theme of Maturity in three Antipodean novels," in Narasimhaiah (ed) Awakened  Conscience, New Delhi, 1978, p.127


other anthologies:

            Witi Ihimaera & Don Long (eds) Into the World of Light: an anthology of Maori Writing, Auckland: Heinemann1982

            Albert Wendt (ed) Lali: a Pacific Anthology Auckland:  Longman Paul, 1980

            Ulli Beier(ed), Black Writing from New Guinea, UQP, 1973

            Ulli Beier(ed), Voices of Independence, UQP, 1980

Richard Hamasaki (ed.), Seaweeds and Constructions 7, 1983, Honolulu: Elepaio Press.

Ganga Powell (ed.), Through Melanesian Eyes, Melbourne: Macmillan, 1989

            Regis Stella, Moments in Melanesia OUP, 1994


upload: 08/21/2002

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