200 of Australia’s top literary works will be linked to a range of related material online as part of a new project, Reading Australia.
Literary works will be linked to a range of related material such as videos and online resources, newspaper articles, biographies and photos as part of a ground-breaking project to make it easier for people from across Australia and around the world to study and enjoy Australian literature.
Among the 200 novels, plays, biographies, books of poetry and children’s fiction are Tom Keneally’s The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Peter Carey’s The True History of the Kelly Gang, Marcus Clarke’s For the Term of his Natural Life, Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career, Ruth Park’s Harp in the South and Patrick White’s Voss.
Zoë Rodriguez, Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund Manager, said the project is a major initiative which will create a one-stop Australian literature website.
‘This visionary project will make it much easier for anyone, anywhere in the world to study and enjoy Australia’s best literature,’ Ms Rodriguez said.
‘Working with the education sector, authors, publishers and the National Library of Australia (NLA), the digitised books and plays will go online and be linked to already existing material such as newspapers, photographs, journals and other material.
‘Together, the original work and the other source material will make the study of Australian literature a much more exciting and valuable experience.
‘School and university students have struggled for years to find comprehensive material about authors and their works.
‘Now, with this website, a package of resources, including the original work, will be available to help students and lovers of Australian literature.
‘This is a great project that will help take Australian literature to the world, lead to a greater appreciation of Australian literature and develop a stronger market for the authors,’ Ms Rodriguez said.
Copyright Agency has provided $100,000 through its Cultural Fund for the project and is its major sponsor.
The list is comprised of works the ASA Council’s authors considered should be encountered by students at Australian schools and universities and by international universities offering Australian literature courses.
‘The ASA and its Council strongly support this important effort to further the reach of Australia’s excellent and diverse literary heritage,’ ASA’s Executive Director, Angelo Loukakis said.
‘It represents an innovative means of making some of our best works available to a wider readership while also grounding them more firmly in teaching and education.’
Where titles are commercially available, they will be linked to the webpages created as part of this project. Where they are not in print, Copyright Agency will go about obtaining necessary rights and supporting the digitisation of works – bringing them back into general circulation.
It is expected that the first 12 texts and supporting materials will be online by September 2012.
Ms Rodriguez distinguishes this list from a static or wholly definitive anthology. ‘This list is not a closed set – it is just a beginning. Of course there will be works that people feel should be on the list that aren’t, and vice versa. We look forward to the discussion and debate. And to Australians and others engaging with our rich literary culture.’
Alongside the key texts the website would provide a collection of other relevant materials held in the NLA’s collections including newspaper articles, journal articles, critical pieces, photos, audio readings and interviews of authors or others associated with the text, and audio-visual adaptations of the text.
Ms Rodriguez said a website will generate interest in Australian authors and their books – by stimulating critical discussion in educational settings, and would also be of use by researchers and others with an interest in Australian literature.