Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature

My longtime Australian Lit colleague and recently acquired FaceBook Friend Susan Lever has suggested I link to the Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, published by the National Library of Australia: it's here. You have to register, but you don't have to pay. [UPDATE: no, apparently you don't even have to register to read it!] There are full archives and an excellent, detailed search function.

The Association for the Study of Australian Literature was formed in the late 1970s and an extraordinarily successful venture it has been and remains; for some of us the ASAL conference was and is the highlight of the academic year and I think many people felt as I did that ASAL, rather than their own university department, was their real -- or at least their main -- intellectual community.

It was also, usually, a riot, though these days it seems more seemly. I have particularly fond memories of Townsville 1986, when Prof (well, he is now) Ken Gelder won the Parody Competition with a masterly mashup of classic texts, conference papers and conference conditions, notably the so-called unisex toilets and the conflation in one paper of the work of Catherine Helen Spence and Karl Marx, thenceforth referred to as Marx and Spence.

JASAL was set up by a small group of dedicated ASAL members after it became clear that the opportunities for publishing scholarly work in Australian literary studies were getting thinner and thinner on the ground. The current issue is a tribute to poet Vincent Buckley and includes articles by his friends and fellow-poets Chris Wallace-Crabbe and Jennifer Strauss, plus reminiscences and scholarly articles by friends, former colleagues, former students and specialists in Australian poetry.