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‘Tinned Literature’? Literary Discussion in The Brisbane Courier (1930)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 December 2012

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To date, histories of literary culture in Queensland have not paid particular attention to newspapers, despite the fact that metropolitan and regional publications carried considerable material that allows us insight into the ways in which books were circulated and evaluated. Reviews and essays sat alongside advertisements run by department stores, specialist retailers, large distributors and newsagents, in turn jostling for attention with interviews with authors, poems, reports of literary gatherings and substantial critical essays. This article offers a ‘case study’ of literary materials in The Brisbane Courier, part of a project on the representation of literature (broadly conceived) in Australian newspapers from 1930. The year 1930 was chosen because the interwar years are so frequently characterised, in discussion of the critical study of Australian literature in particular, as a time of neglect, and the Depression as a catalyst for the gradual narrowing of literary horizons. Our larger aim is to understand this historical period better, as well as to calibrate the discussion of Australian literature against the discussion of literature generally. By focusing on a single year for data collection, we have been able to assemble a rich and detailed picture of ‘talk about books’. This, in turn, has enabled us to analyse the significant differences between, for example, the ways in which books are discussed and represented as commercial and aesthetic objects in regional and metropolitan newspapers (see Dale and Thomson 2010).

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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