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Australian Patriography

How Sons Write Fathers in Contemporary Life Writing

Stephen Mansfield

Australian Patriography

A study of modern Australian life writing by sons who focus on their fathers that offers compelling readings of Raimond Gaita’s ‘Romulus, My Father’, Peter Rose’s ‘Rose Boys’ and many others.

Imprint: Anthem Press
ISBN 9780857283306
May 2013 | 222 Pages | 229 x 152mm / 9 x 6
PRICE:  £70.00  /  $115.00  Buy from Amazon.co.uk  Buy from Amazon.com

About This Book

‘This book is about autobiographical writing in Australia, but Stephen Mansfield’s work has profound implications for patrimonial life narratives and father–son relationships everywhere. Employing scholarship from psychology, sociology and humanistic literary study, he exposes both the fault lines of Australian father–son relationships, with their emphasis on silence, privacy and repression, but also honours the way the life writers strive to understand and repair the damage arising from those affiliations. Mansfield renders the voices in those memoirs with a powerful, reverberative voice of his own.’ —Roger Porter, author of ‘Bureau of Missing Persons: Writing the Secret Lives of Fathers’

‘This thoroughly insightful study of patriography fills an important gap in life writing scholarship. Mansfield makes a crucial contribution to Australian literary studies in his analysis of autobiography, masculinity and the paternal inheritance. “Australian Patriography” offers an original and significant review of contemporary literatures which will resonate broadly.’ —Kate Douglas, author of ‘Contesting Childhood: Autobiography, Trauma and Memory’

‘“Australian Patriography” illustrates the major virtues of scholarly writing: depth, incisiveness and clarity. It ambitiously brings together literary and sociological interests in the service of superb textual analysis. Stephen Mansfield’s study is not only a major addition to the scholarship of Australian life writing, but to that of life writing generally.’ —David McCooey, author of ‘Artful Histories: Modern Australian Autobiography’

How do these authors ‘perform’ their masculinity in the act of writing the father? What are some of the ethical complexities that must be negotiated when representing the reticent-laconic in autobiography? And, ultimately, how does one decide what an ethical representation of the father is? These are some of the questions Mansfield addresses in ‘Australian Patriography’, the first study of its kind in Australian literature.

Readership: This work will benefit Australian literature students and specialists as well as life-writing scholars, particularly those with an interest in contemporary masculinity studies.

Author Information

Stephen Mansfield is an independent scholar as well as a casual research assistant and tutor in the Department of English at Sydney University, Australia.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; List of Illustrations; Introduction Writing Patrimony: The Son’s Book of the Father as a Sub-genre; PART I: CHALLENGING AUTHORITY: Chapter One: ‘The Paradigm Case’: Contesting the Father in Edmund Gosse’s ‘Father and Son: A Study of Two Temperaments’; Chapter Two: ‘An Indubitable Australian’: Renouncing the Father in Hal Porter’s ‘The Watcher on the Cast-Iron Balcony’; PART II: MEMORIALISING SELF-DENIAL: Chapter Three: ‘Words to Keep Fully Amongst Us’: Honouring the Father in Raimond Gaita’s ‘Romulus, My Father’; Chapter Four: ‘I Really Was the Son of Such a Man’: Replacing the Father in Richard Freadman’s ‘Shadow of Doubt: My Father and Myself’; PART III: PERFORMING MASCULINITY: Chapter Five: A Speaking Subject/A Watching Object: Addressing the Father in Peter Rose’s ‘Rose Boys’; Chapter Six: Choosing Patrimony: Performing for the Father in John Hughes’s ‘The Idea of Home’; Chapter Seven: ‘Neither to Vindicate nor to Vilify’: Becoming the Father in Robert Gray’s ‘The Land I Came Through Last’; Conclusion: The Turn to the Father in Autobiography; Bibliography; Index