Impact of the Modern: Vernacular Modernities in Australia 1870s-1960s
Edited by Robert Dixon and Veronica Kelly
Sydney University Press
Australian and international modernity from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century inspires research in many fields of cultural endeavour: architecture, fine arts, design, cinema, theatre, and music; in urban studies, literary history and Aboriginal studies. Impact of the Modern brings together examples of this new interdisciplinary work on modern Australian culture by 21 leading scholars. Their writings reveal an original account of 'modernising' Australia as dynamic and creative in many art forms, and interactively linked with international processes and ideas.
The essays in Impact of the Modern were presented as papers at the conference, 'Australian Vernacular Modernities', convened by the editors at the University of Queensland in 2006. Plenary papers by Jill Julius Matthews and Angela Woollacott signal the book's focus on the erotic and gendered spaces, and on popular aspects of modernity. They provide the central focus of the material, through such vital and dynamic categories as the 'modern', the 'erotic' and the 'primitive'. As essential components of the historical processes of innovation and modernisation, these central questions of gender and public sociality are taken up in diverse ways in the other chapters, forming a varied and exciting study of a range of creative Australian engagements with modern international life and popular culture.