Lost for words | Books | The Australian:
Pierce is concerned that academics who specialise in Oz lit are getting on or getting out. But what are universities to do if students won’t sign up for Australian literature courses?
Pierce says the claim that students are no longer interested is a “chicken and egg argument”. “Students and PhD candidates will hardly be encouraged if Australian literature is not an interest of any of the academics in their university,” he argues.
He is withering about the idea that cash-strapped universities should offer students only the courses they want: “This assumes that universities are not there to educate but simply to gratify the necessarily limited background interests of its students, no matter how bright those students are. It’s like saying, they won’t be interested in higher maths, so we won’t teach it.”
Referring to the cultural cringe she encountered as an honours student 40 years ago, Webby says “you’re still fighting some of those same battles”. “Hopefully,” says this woman whose life’s work has centred on her own country’s literature, “we will never go back to the situation of the ’50s.”
australian literary studies… are dying in australia.