What is AustLit?

AustLit is a fantastic resource that makes the lives of researchers, students of literature and especially teachers easier. It’s the first of its kind – no other country has attempted to compile such a comprehensive record of a nation’s creative writing and associated critical works.

Simply, AustLit is an online database that provides bibliographical and biographical information for Australian literature and writers. One of AustLit’s most impressive features is the way it interlinks information – biographical records link to publications, to awards and prizes, to interviews and critical reviews, as well as to teaching material. When the data is linked together in this way it creates a comprehensive overview of an author’s life and body of work. Incredibly, more than six hundred records are added to the database each week.

Importantly for teachers, AustLit has a dedicated section for students and educators. They provide guides for teaching Australian literature, links to useful resources for many texts, including information on how to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in classrooms, and they also organise professional learning events, some of which the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund has supported.

What is an AustLit Trail?

One of the ways AustLit and Reading Australia partnered is in creating a series of ‘AustLit Trails’ also known as ‘Information Trails’. These Trails are curated collections of useful information and links to other resources for 19 Reading Australia titles. Each Trail focuses on a different Australian title. The 19 Trails are linked below – please click on one to start exploring.

How do I navigate each Information Trail?

Each Trail is organised differently according to the needs of each individual title. Depending on which Trail you select, it may provide contextual information, investigate aspects of the writer’s life, focus on one or two key themes, examine critical responses, as well as direct you to further reading and research.

Let’s take the Information Trail for A Fortunate Life as our example. The Trail is divided into six sections:

  • Part One provides an overview of A Fortunate Life and its author, and its adaptation for television.
  • Part Two examines Facey’s text as an example of autobiographical writing, highlighting factual anomalies, the transition of a life story from an oral to a written version, and the narrative impact of Facey’s limited literacy (including his use of language).
  • Part Three focuses on some of the major themes in A Fortunate Life: World War I and childhood.
  • Part Four looks at A Fortunate Life through the lens of mythmaking.
  • Part Five offers suggestions for wider, contemporaneous reading.
  • Part Six provides tips for further research.

The Trails are designed to enhance the students’ engagement with the text and to encourage further reading and research.