Multicultural and Polyvocal Society

10 Jul

We have been studying the ways in which poetry expresses Australian voices.  Through our study we have moved from voices who seek to speak for all of Australia, to contemporary examples of marginalised voices.  Inherent in this shift has been a recognition that an increasingly multicultural society is also a polyvocal society.

What happens then when students are asked to listen to a speech in which a contemporary figure seeks to speak on behalf of the nation?  Some students start thinking about the pieces of the ‘Australian narrative’ that are missing, wondering why the speaker has glossed over them.  Others wonder whether the glaring omissions matter; after all, this speaker is really one of many voices that are woven together to express our identity.  A final group wonders why a contemporary figure has more in common with Paterson who, in the late 1800s, was a vocal contributor to the view that the epicentre of Australian identity is the outback, than with the advocates who proliferate the contemporary poetic landscape.

It was really exciting to see students engaging with this level of depth and insight!

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