Welcome to the Blog ~ Winter Term 2021/2022 Edition

This winter term, it is time for a new group of HHU English literature students to start blogging. Long time readers do not need to worry, though. Our lecturers, Tina Burger and Lucas Mattila, are still par for the course and we are happy to tell you that they will continue to blog alongside us. Together, we will explore Australian speculative fiction!

We are a group full of ideas and every one of us is eager to dive into a different direction. Our blog posts are therefore going to cover a lot of ground. For instance, we are not just going to discuss novels, but also short stories, graphic novels, movies, and video games. We will examine extraordinary worlds filled with horror, fantasy, science fiction, magical realism, and so much more. By casting such a wide net, we hope to convey how similar analytical approaches can be applied to various media and genres. Furthermore, it is important to us to compare and contrast these different text forms, because they can offer us insight into their overarching themes and individual interpretations.

This blog offers the unique opportunity to highlight the many Australian voices who are normally drowned out by their American counterparts. Thus, it is going to be our mission to make you understand why Australian speculative fiction deserves your attention. Australian identities can be highly complex and all too often it can become hard to decipher their exact relation to nature, postcolonialism, religion, and gender. Nevertheless, Australian writers are shaped by these environments and reflect upon them in their work.

Over the next three months, we are going to share our discoveries with you in the form of blog posts, podcasts, and videos. In December, you can expect to read a lot about Gillian Polack’s The Time of the Ghosts, a novel that is so rich that we can all approach it from a slightly different angle. In January, you will notice a split between detailed posts about short stories and introductory posts about major themes and movements of Australian speculative fiction. And in February, you will finally find out what every one’s favorite work of Australian speculative fiction is and why we adore it so much. So stay tuned!

The Dance of Chances

It was mere chance and a heavy dose of good luck that made me notice Gillian Polack’s twitter appeal to find more Jewish Australian writers of science fiction and fantasy – as she could only list four so far on her blog, including herself! Being a scholar of Australian Speculative Fiction in Germany in particular, I knew at once that I had to ask her for more information.

I couldn’t have made a better decision.

Gillian was immediately kind enough to offer a meeting via zoom so she could give me some pointers to start with my research into Jewish Australian Speculative Fiction Writing and my first preparations to teach at least some examples in our online class. Not only did this lead my colleague and I to include her novel The Time of the Ghosts in our course on “Blogging Australian Speculative Fiction“ – from whose students you will hear on this blog very soon!

No, we also started planning an extraordinary online event – a conversation between the four Jewish Australian Speculative Fiction writers Gillian had already listed on her blog. Gillian got us in contact with Jack Dann, Jason Franks, and Rivqa Rafael, while we took care of German bureaucracy (forms… lots and lots of forms to fill out).

top part contains four round images of human heads, authors; background is the shape of Australia, surrounded by planetary orbits

And soon enough, a date for the event was finalised (thanks, doodle!) and we were able to start forcing kindly asking our students to register!

On Wednesday, 17th November, at 10am (MEZ), we will meet with Gillian Polack, Jack Dann, Jason Franks, and Rivqa Rafael on WebEx to talk with them about their writing – and of course, we invite anyone who is interested to join us!

If you’d like to attend, please register at: australianprojectnrw@googlemail.com – we’d love to see you there!