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A Cultural History of the Bushranger Legend in Theatres and Cinemas, 1828–2017

A Cultural History of the Bushranger Legend in Theatres and Cinemas, 1828–2017

By Andrew James Couzens

Anthem Studies in Australian Literature and Culture

‘A Cultural History of the Bushranger Legend in Theatres and Cinemas, 1828–2017’ is a cultural history of the bushranger legend on stage and screen from colonial to contemporary Australia. It provides a detailed analysis of the mechanisms through which bushrangers became an indelible part of the Australian cultural consciousness.

Hardback, 248 Pages

ISBN:9781783088911

January 2019

£70.00, $115.00

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  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
  • Recently Viewed Titles

About This Book

The bushranger legend is an important component of Australia’s cultural history, with names like Ned Kelly and Ben Hall still provoking strong, if ambivalent, responses. Storytellers mobilize this legend in unique and exciting ways that reflect upon both the cultural and actual history of bushrangers, as well as speaking to contemporary concerns and driving debate on the national character. ‘A Cultural History of the Bushranger Legend in Theatres and Cinemas, 1828–2017’ is a multidisciplinary investigation into the history of cultural representations of the bushranger legend on the stage and screen, charting that history from its origins in colonial theatre works performed while bushrangers still roamed Australia’s bush to contemporary Australian cinema. It considers the influences of industrial, political and social disruptions on these representations as well as their contributions to those disruptions.

‘A Cultural History of the Bushranger Legend in Theatres and Cinemas, 1828–2017’ is a comprehensive cultural history of representations of bushrangers in cinema and colonial theatre. Beginning with the bushranger legend’s establishment, it explores the formative years of the representational tradition, identifying the origins of characteristics and the social and industrial mechanisms through which they passed from history to popular theatre. Tracing the legend’s development, the book interrogates the promotion of these characteristics from a contested popular history to an officially sanctioned national outlook in the cinema. Finally, it analyzes the contemporary fragmentation of the bushranger legend, attending to the dissatisfactions and challenges that arose in response to political and social debates galvanized by the 1988 bicentenary.

The cultural history recounted in ‘A Cultural History of the Bushranger Legend in Theatres and Cinemas, 1828–2017’ provides not only an into the role of popular narrative representations of bushrangers in the development and reflection of Australian character, but also a detailed case study of the specific mechanisms at work in the symbiosis between a nation’s values and its creative production. Bushrangers have had a heightened though unstable significance in Australia due to the nation’s diverse population and historical insecurities and conflicts over colonial identity, land rights and settlement. Community often defined the bushrangers in their stage and screen appearances, and the challenges that these marginalized communities faced were absorbed into the political and social mainstream. ‘A Cultural History of the Bushranger Legend in Theatres and Cinemas, 1828–2017’ is an insight into the process through which the bushranger legend earned its cultural resonance in Australia.

Reviews

‘Richly researched and accessible, this study of the bushranger legend of the Australian outback as it has proliferated and diversified through national to global formats – from melodramas, wild west shows and hippodramas to folklore and Ned Kelly myths to screen versions including outlaw road movies – will become standard reading.’
—Janet Wilson, Professor of English and Postcolonial Studies, University of Northampton, UK

‘A study that delves where many only skim. A significant contribution to the broader field of outlaw studies.’
—Stephen Gaunson, Senior Lecturer, Cinema Studies, School of Media & Communication, Design and Social Context, RMIT University, Australia

Author Information

Andrew James Couzens is an Australian interdisciplinary researcher whose work covers film, theatre, and cultural and media studies. Couzens’s film production experience and time working in film festivals heavily influence his scholarship, which explores intersections between creative industries and cultural expression. For Couzens, creative practice and academic research are mutually beneficial, and he is now applying his research on the bushranger legend to a series of screenplays.

Series

Anthem Studies in Australian Literature and Culture

Table of Contents

List of Figures; Acknowledgements; Introduction: Defining the Bushranger Legend; Part 1: Establishing the Legend; 1. The First Bushranger Melodrama; 2. Alfred Dampier and the Nationalistic Melodrama; 3. Wild West Shows and Wild Australia; 4. Hippodramas and Edward Irham Cole; Part 2: Developing the Legend; 5. The Bushranger Genre from Stage to Screen; 6. The Bushranger Ban; 7. British and American Interventions in the Bushranger Legend; 8. Radical Nationalism and the Bushranger Legend; Part 3: Fragmenting the Legend; 9. Historical Revisionism and the Bushranger Legend; 10. Diversification and Inclusiveness of the Bushranger Legend; 11. Globalization of the Bushranger Legend in Outlaw Road Movies; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

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