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See detailSur les traces d'Hena Maes-Jelinek. Les études postcoloniales : inauguration d'une tradition liégeoise
Mascoli, Giulia ULiege; Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne ULiege

in Genin, Vincent (Ed.) Une Fabrique des Sciences humaines. L'Université de Liège dans la mêlée (1817-2017) (2019)

Cet article s'intéresse à la naissance et le développement du Centre d’Enseignement et de Recherche en Etudes Postcoloniales de l'Université de Liège, fondé en 1968 par Hena Maes-Jelinek (1929-2008). En ... [more ▼]

Cet article s'intéresse à la naissance et le développement du Centre d’Enseignement et de Recherche en Etudes Postcoloniales de l'Université de Liège, fondé en 1968 par Hena Maes-Jelinek (1929-2008). En cette époque utilitariste, où les Sciences humaines sont remises en question et semblent représenter une menace pour un ordre établi qui voudrait que la vision de ses citoyens soit monolithique et réductionniste, il est crucial de rappeler que la « juxtaposition des contraires », dont la littérature postcoloniale, fait naître l’imagination créatrice. Madame Maes-Jelinek, intellectuelle passionnée et académicienne dévouée, l'avait déjà bien compris au début des années 60. [less ▲]

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See detailUnscaling Australia through the Fold
Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne ULiege

Scientific conference (2018, May 16)

What do French philosophers Bruno Latour and Michel Serres and the Australian writers Michelle De Kretser, Gail Jones, and Drusilla Modjeska have in common? They share in a reading of time that is ... [more ▼]

What do French philosophers Bruno Latour and Michel Serres and the Australian writers Michelle De Kretser, Gail Jones, and Drusilla Modjeska have in common? They share in a reading of time that is topological and multiple. Wrongly, according to Serres, “we conceive of time as an irreversible line, whether interrupted or continuous, of acquisitions and inventions. We go from generalizations to discoveries, leaving behind us a trail of errors finally corrected – like a cloud of ink from a squid” (1995: 48). This view of time and history as progressive has pernicious effects, as it intimates that “we never cease to be at the summit, on the cutting edge, at the state-of-the-art of development” and are hence “always right, for the simple, banal, and naïve reason that we are living in the present moment” (48). However, “[this is] not time,” Serres concludes, “but a trajectory of the race for first place, […] a simple competition, […] war” (49). “The first to arrive, the winner of the battle,” he emphasises, “obtains as his prize the right to reinvent history to his own advantage” (49; original emphasis). This is then not without recalling the colonial enterprise and the fact that, as Inga Clendinnen points out, “history in the grand narrative sense will always belong to the victors” (2006: 66). In a counteracting stance, she claims that we have to “destabilis[e] those self-congratulatory accounts of the past, because the past, like the present, is simply too complicated and too multiple to be told in any single story” (66). Drawing on this and the postcolonial Australian predicament, my paper will seek to investigate how attempts at a distabilisation – or unscaling – of the metrical view of time manifest in the works of (at least) three Australian women writers, namely Michelle de Kretser, Gail Jones, and Drusilla Modjeska. Indeed, it is my contention that these three writers share, believe and narrativize a reading of time that is folded, complicated and multiple, and that allows them to re-imagine Australia from another angle. [less ▲]

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See detail“The planet is always half night” in Gail Jones’s “Desolation” and A Guide to Berlin
Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne ULiege

Conference (2018, January 18)

“The planet is always half night”: Globalisation or the Shadow(s) of Colonisation in Gail Jones’s “Desolation” and A Guide to Berlin In her essay “Speaking Shadows: Justice and the Poetic,” Gail Jones ... [more ▼]

“The planet is always half night”: Globalisation or the Shadow(s) of Colonisation in Gail Jones’s “Desolation” and A Guide to Berlin In her essay “Speaking Shadows: Justice and the Poetic,” Gail Jones argues that “writerly elaboration,” “naming the past, speaking of it, offering an account – is one of our forms of negotiation”. However, the writer should not “succumb to luxurious – that is to say, debilitating – melancholy,” which is “too close to political quiescence”; quite the reverse, “there must be a way of entertaining the darknesses that is not pathological but somehow creative and intrinsically resistant”. This, I believe, is what Jones does in her literary oeuvre more generally and in her short story “Desolation” and her novel A Guide in Berlin more particularly. In “Desolation” (2003), a story narrating the encounter of two strangers in Paris, Jones entertains the darknesses of colonisation in a “creative and intrinsically resistant” way through the musicality of her writing. It is my contention that the latter echoes on a discursive level what Jones calls ‘melancholy seriousness,’ a look that “settles on the faces of people attending a concert” and that travels “like vibrations,” “so mysteriously – not like the Metro at all, not regular and entrammelled – but fanning open, invisibly, like vibrations in the body, into all the glories and desolations of a black city night” (17). In A Guide to Berlin (2015), a novel that brings together six foreign travellers in Berlin, Jones literally maps the city’s buried past and forgotten places precisely through her symbolic and poetic use of Berlin’s metropolitan train system, that shapes the city into a constellation “netted and webbed by the rails” and where the trains are “haphazardly communal,” offering a corridor “to walk against the direction we’re moving in” (2016, 3). Thus, bringing together eight strangers in two Australian narratives set in two European capital cities, my paper will seek to investigate how Jones’s writing offers new ways of thinking and engaging with cross-cultural encounters through her artful writing of the darknesses of globalisation. Works Cited Jones, Gail. 2003. “Desolation.” The Kenyon Review 25 (1): 9-17. Jones, Gail. 2008. “Speaking Shadows: Justice and the Poetic.” Just Words? Australian Authors Writing for Justice. By Bernadette Brennan. St Lucia, Qld.: University of Queensland, 76-86. Jones, Gail. 2015. A Guide to Berlin. Sydney: Vintage Australia. [less ▲]

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See detailAngels and Constellations in Australian Fiction: Profane Illumination and Topological Temporality in Gail Jones's A Guide to Berlin
Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne ULiege

Scientific conference (2017, September 22)

This seminar will focus on Australian writer Gail Jones’s sixth novel, A Guide to Berlin, published in 2015. Named after a short story by Vladimir Nabokov, Jones’s guide portrays the advent of a small ... [more ▼]

This seminar will focus on Australian writer Gail Jones’s sixth novel, A Guide to Berlin, published in 2015. Named after a short story by Vladimir Nabokov, Jones’s guide portrays the advent of a small international community through the convergence in snowy Berlin of six foreign travellers joined together in their devotion to Nabokov’s literary œuvre. Drawing on the psychogeography of Berlin, with its “shifting angles” and “receding perspectives,” its “corridors between spaces” and “immaterial traces,” this seminar aims at bringing together Michel Serres’s topological reading of time, Walter Benjamin’s convoluted view of history, and Paul Celan’s speaking shadows and at textualising their precepts in Jones’s fiction. [less ▲]

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See detail“Moving on metaphorical silk roads of intellectual trade”: Chinese encounters in Gail Jones’s writing
Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne ULiege

Conference (2017, July 14)

In 2008, Australian fiction writer and essayist Gail Jones spent four months in Shanghai as a guest of the Chinese and Shanghai Writers Associations. During this time, two of her earlier novels were ... [more ▼]

In 2008, Australian fiction writer and essayist Gail Jones spent four months in Shanghai as a guest of the Chinese and Shanghai Writers Associations. During this time, two of her earlier novels were published in Chinese. Although a non-sinologist, Jones has shown an interest in China, and more generally in Asianness, from her childhood onwards, which she spent on the outskirts of Broome, a small town whose majority population was Chinese, Japanese, Malay, Filipino and Aboriginal. Consequently, as she claims in her essay “‘I am Chinese’: Of Bodies and Walls, Of Boundaries and their Dissolution” (2016), in which she critically assesses her own writing – “not to suggest equal status or literary parity, of course, but because tropes of perspective, walls, and bodies are a remarkably beguiling connection between writers and artists looking from the outside to China” (Jones 2016, 87) –, she “saw and experienced the deep appeal of an Asian-indigenous multiculture” (Jones 2016, 88), and her fiction “tends to narrate cross-cultural encounters, often thematising ignorance or cultural misunderstanding”. Engaging with her sinophile fiction (Five Bells, “Touching Tiananmen”) and non-fiction (“‘I am Chinese’: Of Bodies and Walls, Of Boundaries and their Dissolution”), my paper will investigate how, both metaphorically and metadiscursively, Jones crafts Chinese aesthetics in an Australian space and cultivates cross-cultural encounters between characters and readers alike, as “the task of writers and scholars is […] to address the gaps, to mount tiny incursions, to find those narratives that heaven cannot quite cover over” (Jones 2016, 91). Works Cited Jones, Gail. 2000. “Touching Tiananmen,” The House of Breathing: Stories by Gail Jones. New York: George Braziller. Pp. 130-139. Jones, Gail. 2011. Five Bells. London: Vintage. Jones, Gail. 2016. “‘I am Chinese’: Of Bodies and Walls, Of Boundaries and their Dissolution,” Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings 16(2): 80-108. [less ▲]

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See detailSur les traces de Madame Maes Maes-Jelinek. Les études postcoloniales : inauguration d’une tradition liégeoise.
Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne ULiege; Mascoli, Giulia ULiege

Conference (2017, February 11)

Pour célébrer le bicentenaire de l’Université de Liège, nous souhaitons mettre en lumière le rayonnement international de l’un des premiers centres de recherche en Europe à s’être consacré aux « ... [more ▼]

Pour célébrer le bicentenaire de l’Université de Liège, nous souhaitons mettre en lumière le rayonnement international de l’un des premiers centres de recherche en Europe à s’être consacré aux « Commonwealth studies », le CEREP (Centre d’Enseignement et de Recherche en Etudes Postcoloniales). Fondé en 1968 par la Professeure Hena Maes-Jalinek sous l’acronyme CEREC (Centre d’Enseignement et de Recherche en Etudes du Commonwealth), le CEREP fut relancé en 2006 et met désormais en exergue la dimension postcoloniale, changeant ainsi son acronyme en CEREP. Nous comptons présenter, par ailleurs, quatre auteurs phares du paysage postcolonial qui se sont vus décerner l’insigne de Docteur honoris causa par l’ULg, à savoir, Salman Rushdie, Wilson Harris, Caryl Phillips et Paul Gilroy, pour lesquels le CEREP a joué un rôle important lors de leur accueil et présentation à l’Ulg. [less ▲]

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See detailAll Saved from Drowning? Afghan Refugees in Australia and Words Written in “The Ocean”: A Short Story by Gail Jones
Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne ULiege

Conference (2017, January 27)

Gail Jones’s short story “The Ocean” was published in 2013 as part of an anthology edited by Thomas Keneally and Rosie Scott. Entitled A Country Too Far: Writings on Asylum Seekers, this anthology aimed ... [more ▼]

Gail Jones’s short story “The Ocean” was published in 2013 as part of an anthology edited by Thomas Keneally and Rosie Scott. Entitled A Country Too Far: Writings on Asylum Seekers, this anthology aimed to ask “some of [the] most admired Australian writers to bring a different perspective and depth to the public debate on asylum seekers”. With “The Ocean”, Jones takes up the challenge quite successfully and, I may also add, quite literally or meta-discursively. The short story’s two interwoven narratives are articulated following an ebb-and-flow movement that enhances the text’s play with the notions of liquidity and time. This is reminiscent of French philosopher Michel Serres’s view of time as made of counter-currents, undertows and turbulences. These liquid folds allow for originally distant points – with no link whatsoever – to become close, superimposed. This then creates an effect of strangeness which Jones cultivates, as when she claims that, since “we’re always in a forward-backward rhythm, not often fully here in the present moment” and “our present is inflected and intercepted by the past and the future, pleated and folded,” this means that, “if we were to see our contemporary world with the eyes of the future, we might see it suddenly aestheticized and made endearingly strange”. By focusing on Jones’s play with perspectives, her narrativisation of folds, and the intertextual link with Primo Levi’s The Drowned and the Saved, my paper will seek to investigate how Jones’s writing not only claims an ethical and moral dimension but also takes up a political stance: it is by writing from multiple perspectives and thus forging unexpected connections, allowing people of different backgrounds, cultures and religions to interconnect, that Jones voices resistance to the narrow-mindedness of those who are privileged in today’s world-wide migration crisis. [less ▲]

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See detailAustralia-South Asia: Contestations and Remonstrances
Herbillon, Marie ULiege; Mirza, Maryam ULiege; Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne ULiege

in JEASA: Journal of the European Association for Studies of Australia (2017), 8(2),

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See detailTo Speak, or Not to Speak: That Is the Question. Contrapuntal Shakespearean Intertextuality in Gail Jones's Sorry
Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne ULiege

Conference (2016, October 10)

In Alev Adil’s words, Australian novelist and essayist Gail Jones has chosen “to speak of silence, not of the silenced. [Her novel Sorry (2007)] is careful not to ventriloquize Aboriginal histories. The ... [more ▼]

In Alev Adil’s words, Australian novelist and essayist Gail Jones has chosen “to speak of silence, not of the silenced. [Her novel Sorry (2007)] is careful not to ventriloquize Aboriginal histories. The elegiac and occluded nature of [its] narrative is an ethical as much as aesthetic choice” (qtd. in Herrero 2011, 287). Ironically perhaps, the novel starts by immediately inviting the reader to be silent and to perk up his or her ears in order to listen to this story “that can only be told in a whisper” (3). This, I argue, functions as a kind of warning for readers, that throughout their reading they need to be attentive to, and perhaps search for, the hushed tone which this story demands and which suggests the existence of some deeper, underlying truth. In an article tackling the issue of writing and justice in the Australian context, Jones vindicates this form of obliquity, confessing that Sorry has “a political-allegorical aspect – as one would expect, claiming such a title”, yet that “it is not centrally concerned with representing the Stolen Generations. As a white Australian, it would be presumptuous to do so and it would risk appropriation of others’ painful experience” (2008, 84). She also contends that non-Indigenous writers who wish “to engage with ‘stolen’ matters must write from another perspective and perhaps use forms of indirection that will signal a refusal to ‘claim’ the experience of others” (79). Interacting with Russell West-Pavlov’s view of the Shakespearean intertext in Sorry as a “self-critical element of White usurping culture but also, possibly, as a collaborator in a coalition against the ongoing oppression of the Indigenous population which characterizes contemporary Australia” (2015, 391), my paper will examine how Jones exploits defamiliarizing techniques in order to undermine the dominant European discourse (as encoded in the Shakespearean text) without assuming an Aboriginal perspective. Her aim is to facilitate the emergence of an incipient, tentatively-defined counter-discourse sufficiently attuned to the specific realities of Australia. The paper argues that by adopting an Australian cultural perspective designed to decentre Shakespeare Jones hopes to reconcile history and writing, but also the divided aspects of White Australia’s twofold identity at a time of profound national changes. Works Cited Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne. 2015. “‘Shakespeare was wrong’: counter-discursive intertextuality in Gail Jones’s Sorry.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing 51 (6): 661-671. Herrero, Dolores. 2011. “The Australian Apology and Postcolonial Defamiliarization: Gail Jones’s Sorry.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing 47 (3): 283-295. Jones, Gail. 2007. Sorry. London: Harvill Secker. Jones, Gail. 2008. “Speaking Shadows: Justice and the Poetic.” In Just Words?: Australian Authors Writing for Justice, edited by Bernadette Brennan, 76-86. St Lucia: University of Queensland Press. West-Pavlov, Russell. 2015. “Shakekspeare Among the Nyoongar: Post-Colonial Texts, Colonial Intertexts and their Imbrications – Macbeth in Gail Jones’s Sorry.” Zeitschrift fur Anglistik und Amerikanistik 63 (4): 391-410. [less ▲]

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See detailStrolling around Sydney and Berlin: The materiality of space and the immateriality of time in Gail Jones’s Five Bells and A Guide to Berlin
Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne ULiege

Conference (2016, May 05)

In an interview, Australian novelist, essayist and academic Gail Jones claimed an interest in psycho-geography, i.e. “in the idea,” as she puts it, “that we must walk around our own place with an active ... [more ▼]

In an interview, Australian novelist, essayist and academic Gail Jones claimed an interest in psycho-geography, i.e. “in the idea,” as she puts it, “that we must walk around our own place with an active intelligence and with a degree of radical attention to what is there.” Taking Sydney as an example, Jones insists on the importance of looking at the city’s “shapes, its motions,” of attending to its “sounds, corridors between spaces, the unexpected.” It is, she continues, “about apprehending things through shapes and signs.” Sydney, to Jones, is a place haunted by its colonial inheritance, and Australia, more generally, is a “colony of trauma”, a place where “there is always a tension between remembering and forgetting.” First published in 2011, her novel Five Bells takes place on a single Saturday in January in cosmopolitan Sydney and draws together four characters with their different national backgrounds, haunting histories and memories, all converging on Circular Quay, an Aboriginal site also marked as the place where Captain Cook first set foot. Thus in Five Bells, time and space are merged, or to put it as Jones does, “within the material spaces of a city are these immaterial traces of something else.” By the same token, Jones distinguishes between a vertical and a horizontal history: on the one hand, she explains, “there is the history that seems to be unfolding and moving forward,” while on the other hand there is a “plunging down into the interiority of the place, into its lost history.” This merging together of time and space, of history and geography also finds an echo in A Guide to Berlin, Jones’s latest novel, published in 2015. Following in Vladimir Nobokov’s footsteps on both, a textual and metatextual level, this novel narrates the coming together of six foreigners, gradually entangling their thoughts, their memories, their pasts, presents and futures in haunted and snowy Berlin. Focusing on both, the materiality and immateriality of Sydney and Berlin in Five Bells and A Guide to Berlin, my paper will seek to investigate how Jones draws on the trope of temporal and spatial inheritance in both novels to offer ethical understanding within and between re-imagined trans-historical communities. Works Cited: “Five Bells with Novelist Gail Jones.” 9 Dec. 2012. Interview by Eleanor Wachtel. Writers and Company. CBC Radio. Web. 9 Apr. 2015. <http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Writers+and+Company/2012/ID/2313221830/>. Jones, Gail. 2012. Five Bells. London: Vintage. Jones, Gail. 2015. A Guide to Berlin. Sydney: Vintage. [less ▲]

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See detail“Everything was losing definition and outline”: Re-membering Trauma Fiction in Gail Jones’s Sorry
Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne ULiege

Conference (2016, March 18)

In an article, Australian novelist and essayist Gail Jones confesses of her novel Sorry that it has “a political-allegorical aspect – as one would expect, claiming such a title” (2008, 79). Published in ... [more ▼]

In an article, Australian novelist and essayist Gail Jones confesses of her novel Sorry that it has “a political-allegorical aspect – as one would expect, claiming such a title” (2008, 79). Published in 2007, that is, one year prior to the formal apology delivered by the Australian government to the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, Sorry engages in a reflection on the ethics of reconciliation. Written in response to Jones’s wish to acknowledge the debt to the Stolen Generations, the novel also offers new possibilities of ethical mourning, allowing the dead to return and the voiceless to speak. My paper will seek to explore the ways in which Jones draws on trauma fiction to bypass not only the unsayable dimension of Australia’s history and what she elsewhere criticises as the trauma model’s “transferential gesture of victim surrogacy” symptomatic of postcolonising settler cultures (2004, 162) but also the representational difficulties inherent in trauma. Moreover, it is by introducing into her novel the concept of traumatic time, “a time that is broken, and […] recursive” (qtd. in Block 2008) and which mirrors on the level of form and structure the effects that trauma exerts on its victims, that Jones she recreates a narrative model that echoes an Australian discourse pre-dating the Bringing Them Home report – that is tinged with amnesia, fragmented memories, and silence –, against which she will assert her own counter-discourse. Works Cited: - Block, Summer. 09 May 2008. “Interview: Gail Jones.” Interview. January Magazine. Web. 16 Jan. 2013. - Jones, Gail. 2004. “Sorry-in-the-Sky: Empathetic Unsettlement, Mourning, and the Stolen Generations.” In Imagining Australia: Literature and Culture in the New New World, edited by Judith Ryan and Chris Wallace-Crabbe, 159-171. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. - Jones, Gail. 2007. Sorry. London: Harvill Secker. - Jones, Gail. 2008. “Speaking Shadows: Justice and the Poetic.” In Just Words?: Australian Authors Writing for Justice, edited by Bernadette Brennan, 76-86. St Lucia: University of Queensland Press. [less ▲]

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See detail“From another angle”: the Australian Reconciliation in Gail Jones’s Sorry and Five Bells
Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne ULiege

Conference (2016, March 17)

On 26 May 2000, an estimated 250,000 people – Australian novelist and essayist Gail Jones included – walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in support of the Australian Reconciliation process. More ... [more ▼]

On 26 May 2000, an estimated 250,000 people – Australian novelist and essayist Gail Jones included – walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in support of the Australian Reconciliation process. More importantly, eight years later, Jones claimed that “in writing [her novel Sorry] [she] rehearsed [her] own concern that the reconciliation process not be forgotten – since it has certainly faded from the political agenda since the bridge walk of 2000[” (2008: 84). This and her claim that “the heartwarming Sorry Books [...] ought seriously to be considered within the genre of the poetics of political dissent, and not as casual or sentimental acts of mere signature” (2008: 164) are indicative of Jones’s writing and of her wish to subvert the stereotypical and ambiguous discursive manifestations of the Australian Reconciliation. By the same token, her novels Sorry (2007) and Five Bells (2011) offer a complex picture of the ethics of reconciliation, namely one that includes “an admission of uncertainty, a calculation of difficulty, and an awareness that justice – and human relations – is rarely written in black and white” (Jones 2008: 86). My paper will thus seek to explore how Jones, by drawing on forms of narrative indirections in both, Sorry and Five Bells, distances herself from white Australian writers who deal with the Stolen Generations in a way that seems to appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences. Sorry and Five Bells, then, offer an alternative to standard reconciliation practices, with a view to bridging the gap between white Australia’s history and the history of the Aborigines. References: - Jones, Gail. 2008a. Sorry. London: Vintage. - Jones, Gail. 2008b. Speaking shadows: Justice and the poetic. In Just Words?: Australian Authors Writing for Justice, Bernadette Brennan (ed.). St Lucia, Qld.: University of Queensland, 76-86. - Jones, Gail. 2012. Five Bells. London: Vintage. [less ▲]

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See detailA Guide to Berlin by Gail Jones
Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne ULiege

in EACLALS Newsletter 2016 (2016)

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See detailUnfolding Time with Gail Jones: an Interview
Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne ULiege

Diverse speeche and writing (2016)

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See detailSaying the unsayable: Imagining reconciliation in Gail Jones's Sorry
Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne ULiege

in English Text Construction (2015), 8(2), 159-176

In her novel Sorry (2007), Australian novelist and essayist Gail Jones engages in a reflection on the ethics of reconciliation. Written in response to her wish to acknowledge the debt to the Stolen ... [more ▼]

In her novel Sorry (2007), Australian novelist and essayist Gail Jones engages in a reflection on the ethics of reconciliation. Written in response to her wish to acknowledge the debt to the Stolen Generations, Sorry offers new possibilities of ethical mourning, allowing the dead to return and the voiceless to speak. This article explores the ways in which Jones not only fashions a narrative that bypasses the unsayable dimension of Australia’s history and the representational difficulties inherent in trauma but also fosters the empathetic imagination through a metadiscursive discussion of the act of reading. Self-referentiality and self-reflexivity are also examined, as they allow Jones to draw attention to her novel’s writerly elaborations and offer an alternative to standard reconciliation practices. [less ▲]

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See detail“Shakespeare was wrong”: counter-discursive intertextuality in Gail Jones’s Sorry
Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne ULiege

in Journal of Postcolonial Writing (2015), 51(6), 661671

In what is presented as a moment of truth in Gail Jones’s novel Sorry, the narrator’s brief statement that “Shakespeare was wrong” appears to call into question the English dramatist’s literary and ... [more ▼]

In what is presented as a moment of truth in Gail Jones’s novel Sorry, the narrator’s brief statement that “Shakespeare was wrong” appears to call into question the English dramatist’s literary and epistemological supremacy. Starting from this unsettling premise, this article seeks to define Jones’s counter-discursive use of Shakespearean intertextuality. While it has, for decades, proved a risky task for both historians and novelists to write about the delicate issue of silence in Australia without risking the appropriation of an Aboriginal voice, the article examines how Jones exploits defamiliarizing techniques in order to undermine the dominant European discourse (as encoded in the Shakespearean text) without assuming an Aboriginal perspective. Her aim is to facilitate the emergence of an incipient, tentatively-defined counter-discourse sufficiently attuned to the specific realities of Australia. The article argues that by adopting an Australian cultural perspective designed to decentre Shakespeare Jones hopes to reconcile history and writing, but also the divided aspects of White Australia’s twofold identity at a time of profound national changes. [less ▲]

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See detailChronos and Topos: The Inheritance of the Here-Now in Gail Jones’s Five Bells
Belleflamme, Valérie-Anne ULiege

Conference (2015, October 01)

In an interview, Australian novelist, essayist, and academic Gail Jones claimed an interest in psycho-geography, i.e. “in the idea,” as she puts it, “that we must walk around our own place with an active ... [more ▼]

In an interview, Australian novelist, essayist, and academic Gail Jones claimed an interest in psycho-geography, i.e. “in the idea,” as she puts it, “that we must walk around our own place with an active intelligence and with a degree of radical attention to what is there.” Taking Sydney as an example, Jones insists on the importance of looking at the city’s “shapes, its motions,” of attending to its “sounds, corridors between spaces, the unexpected.” It is, she continues, “about apprehending things through shapes and signs.” Sydney, to her, is a place haunted by its colonial inheritance, and Australia, more generally, is a “colony of trauma”, a place where “there is always a tension between remembering and forgetting.” Thus time and space are merged, or to put it as Jones does, “within the material spaces of a city are these immaterial traces of something else.” Along the same lines, Jones distinguishes between a vertical and a horizontal history: on the one hand, she explains, “there is the history that seems to be unfolding and moving forward,” while on the other hand there is a “plunging down into the interiority of the place, into its lost history.” This merging together of time and space, of history and geography is an inherent attribute of cosmopolitanism as it finds an echo in Jones’s novel Five Bells, which takes place on a single day in cosmopolitan Sydney and draws together four characters with their different national backgrounds, haunting histories and memories, all converging on Circular Quay, an Aboriginal site also marked as the place where Captain Cook first set foot. Focusing on the characters’ migrant perceptions of this historical and iconic site, my paper will seek to investigate how Jones draws on the trope of temporal and spatial inheritance in Five Bells to offer “ethical understanding” as an alternative to today’s embattled conception of Australian national identity. [less ▲]

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