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Seminar 15:
A Place to Rest:
Writing an Australian Spirit

Michael McGirr will talk about the traditions of restlessness and stillness which are found in earlier Australian writing, especially in the works of Joseph Furphy, Henry Lawson and some of the explorers. He will look at the tension between escapism and reality which is evident in that writing and suggest ways in which the beginnings of an Australian contemplative tradition can also be found there. Why was this such a difficult place in which to be still? Why were potentially creative people blinded by their own restless anxiety?

Elaine Lindsay will look to writers such as Helen Garner, Barbara Hanrahan and Marion Halligan as representatives of one strand of late twentieth century urban women's spirituality. How do they resolve the urge to move on with the longing to settle into the landscape; the desire to stand back and observe while being one with community? Is the contemplative way necessarily positive for women, or can it be a form of escapism? Might the mystical tradition, with its hope of a loving union with God, be more helpful as a way of reconciling the contradictions of life?

Date Thursday 21 October
Time 7.30 - 9.30 pm
Venue St Peter's, Eastern Hill
Cost $15 (concession: $12)
Conductors Michael McGirr,
fiction editor of Meanjin, author of books on the religious experience, whose most recent works have been Religion and Justice in Australian Short Fiction and Things you get for free.

Elaine Lindsay, who has worked as a university lecturer, currently working for the NSW Ministry for the Arts, and who has published widely on Australian literature and women's spirituality. Relevant to this seminar are:
Rewriting God: Spirituality in Contemporary Australian Women's Fiction (Amsterdam/Atlanta GA: Editions Rodopi, 2000)
The Diaries of Barbara Hanrahan, Ed. Elaine Lindsay (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1998)

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