The OCPL Summer Reading Program theme for 2020 is "Reading Takes You Places" and our summer People's U is going to do just that! We're going to dive into some great world literature and along the way learn some useful words and phrases from the regions these stories take place. We'll be heading to places like Japan, Russia, Nigeria, Italy, Scandinavia, Australia, and more! Join us as we 読んだ (Yonda), читать (chitat'), soma, leggere, lese, read our way across the world.
The 1890s in Australia were turbulent times. Prolonged drought and falling commodity prices resulted in economic recession and repeated strike action from an invigorated, newly formed labour movement. This period also witnessed the emergence of a distinct national literature that was raw, parochial and political. Its lodestar was the vast, sunburnt land of the interior commonly referred to as the ‘Bush’, or simply ‘Outback’. Its heroes were the stout, resilient, itinerant workers - the shearers and drovers who would in time be reimaged as ANZAC heroes of war and become the bedrock of an Australian national identity. The early exponents of this national literature were typically, young, Australian-born men driven by a variety of inspirations, but mostly the need to make a living, and alcohol. Foremost among them was Henry Lawson and A B (Banjo) Patterson.
A. B. (Banjo) Patterson’s, Waltzing Matilda, written in 1895 in response to a shearers’ strike, is Australia’s unofficial national anthem. Overladen with vernacular and colloquialism it is highly indicative of the poetry, short sketches and ballads that described pioneering life in the ‘outback’ – a life so different from that of England’s ‘green and pleasant land’. My presentation outlines the context in which Waltzing Matilda was written and seeks to explain the meaning of its verse. It therefore offers an Australian perspective of the capacity of literature and language to understand the world beyond our own local environment. As a bonus, in the course of the presentation, I will also explain the meaning of the term, ‘budgie smugglers’.
Instructor Brad Fitzmaurice is a former Councillor and Vice President of the Royal Australian Historical Society. His Masters dissertation examined the work of a group of Australian writers in the 1890s and early 1900s. He currently teaches American history at Australia’s oldest tertiary institution, the University of Sydney, and is writing a PhD on the history of Wheeling, West Virginia.
The People’s University features courses (taught by experts in each subject) that enable patrons to pursue their goal of lifelong learning in classic subjects such as history, music appreciation, philosophy, and literature. Patrons may attend as many classes as they wish. There are no tests of other requirements and all programs are free and open to the public.
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