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Showing posts from September, 2010

Mr. Bunyip - an early Aussie children's book 'character'!

It has been suggested that the jokey humour of ‘Mr. Bunyip’ set the tone for the description of bunyips in later books.  To an eager Mary Somerville who has strayed from the path in a ‘Red Riding Hood like’ ramble Mr. Bunyip is not a monster who wants to eat her but is a kind hearted chap giving her some social and historical pointers. The Murray River and Melbourne contrast with the magic of the talking beast and references to the old country (England).
Mary has all the qualities needed to be the 'perfect' Colonial chick. She is a good scholar, winning school prizes, obeying her father, is trustworthy, neat, prayful and rises early. The disparity between her goodness with Mr. Bunyip’s admission of alcoholism and wife beating is thought provoking. Mr. Bunyip is forgiven by his wife for this lapse into the unacceptable practice of thrashing one’s wife as he was under the influence of the evil alcohol.   However, the fish in the river who become silly and meander stunned and daze…

A PhD! What's in it for me?

To be honest it won’t further my career, add an extra dollar or two to my salary and in fact, most of those I meet wonder why I would waste my holiday reading on topic related books rather than the latest Nick Hornby. Inquiry-based curriculum develops deeper understandings around concepts. Watching students develop critical and creative thinking skills is one of the pleasures of teaching. A PhD is the ultimate inquiry requiring flexible thinking, persistence and when working full time – exemplary time management!  Luckily, the nature of my topic lends itself to holiday ventures into State Libraries and Public Records Offices and I do small amounts of reading and writing during the term – just chipping away rather than spending hours. Embarking on a PhD is a chance to ‘practise what I preach’ and model depthful inquiry to students. Besides, the opportunity to be a historian as well as a researcher is there and finding that small piece of necessary evidence is both rewarding and fun!  Re…

An Australian Prince

The 'princes' of Australian fairytales were often miners and stockmen glorifying the bushman character. Reflecting the appeal and allure of the outback male we find that in Australian Fairytales (Frank Atha Westbury, 1897:35) the 'prince' is a shy youth called Nugget with an appealing bush toughness and lack of social graces. He rescues a princess whose hand in marriage is well above his station and is quite 'smitten.'                                                                            'It was amusing to see the attention the Nugget bestowed upon the fair young creature by his side, and to note the tell-tale blushes which ever and anon suffused her face as their eyes or their hands chanced to meet.' This princess is transported home, not on a magic carpet or coach but on a means of transport common in the colonies - a donkey! Rather than castles, Australian palaces were more likely to be a mansion in Toorak (in Melbourne) or Valcluse (Sydney) -  the…