Conceiving the Nation: Visions and Versions of Colonial Pre-natality

Osborne, Deirdre. 2008. Conceiving the Nation: Visions and Versions of Colonial Pre-natality. In: Ellen Bayuk Rosenman and Claudia C. Klaver, eds. Other Mothers: Beyond the Maternal Ideal. Ohio: Ohio State University Press, pp. 202-226. ISBN 978-0-8142-0286-9 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Two short stories by white indigenous Australian women writers, “A Cross line” (1893) by George Egerton and “A Dreamer”(1902) by Barbara Baynton exemplify the contrasting treatments of the mother-to-be in both British and Australian contexts. Whilst an uneasy relationship between expected and accepted maternal roles traverses their respective European and Antipodean settings, both stylistically and thematically, Baynton’s text aspires to a subliminal rendering of the mother-to-be that ultimately defeats Egerton – despite her association with narrative innovations in representing fin-de-siecle women’s psyche and sexuality. Read in conjunction with contemporary Australian polemical writing about maternity, these two short stories also reveal how representing maternity exposes the constraints of genre. Moreover, they indicate the difference between writing from the imperial or colonial context and the effects this has upon the potential scope for a female imaginary.

Item Type:

Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)



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Date Deposited:

03 Oct 2011 12:15

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:53


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