That umbrageous foliage: a study of the prose of the North Coast of NSW to 1914

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Publication details

Smith, RJ 1999, That umbrageous foliage: a study of the prose of the North Coast of NSW to 1914', PhD thesis, University of New England, Armidale, NSW.

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A survey of significant regional prose for the North Coast of New South Wales, Australia, up to 1914, this work draws together for close analysis a previously uncollected body of regional writing from disparate sources. Predominantly nonfiction, the types of text under consideration include explorers' logs, personal diaries, letters, memoirs, newspaper accounts, travel books, history, and scientific articles. The fiction portion also covers adventure writing and romance. These texts are examined for their construction of the region, including contemporary perceptions of its Indigenous inhabitants, and how this image, both general and personal, is mediated by interaction with other texts, or by the (necessary) publishing process. A general thematic grouping treats the texts progressively, in turn from navigation and voyages, to exploration and travel, to settlement, professional service, and then those written for the newly emerging mass readership. Conclusions are then made as to the increasing role for regionalism, and for the insights to be gained from a close scrutiny of such hitherto overlooked texts when handled in a chronological fashion. Postmodernism's concerns assist greatly in enriching our notions as to the role of (all) serious writing.