‘Did He Want to Mix and Mate with this Man?’: Mateship, Modernism and Homoerotic Primitivism


Focuses on English writers in Australia, and what these journeys mean 'in relation to the contested term "Australian modernism"'. 'In particular, I argue that the cross-cultural discourse created by Englishmen mixing and mating with white Australian men inscribes mateship as a type of homoerotic primitivism that encourages and supports not only the articulation but also the obfuscation of same-sex desires between men. In the first part of this essay I unpack some of my key critical terms, such as modernism and homoerotic primitivism, before exploring some exemplary literary examples from the 1920s and early 1930s: D.H. Lawrence's Kangaroo (1923), E.L. Grant Watson's The Desert Horizon (1923), and William Hatfield's Sheepmates (1931). In addition, I also discuss David Maloufs Fly Away Peter (1982) as a late-modernist novel that highlights the political and aesthetic continuities between these earlier works and more recent fiction.'

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Published 1 May 2012 in Volume 27 No. 1. Subjects: Aboriginal land rights & native title, Colonialism & imperialism - Literary portrayal, Eroticism, Homosexuality, Mateship, Primitivism, David Malouf, D. H. Lawrence.

Cite as: Barlow, Damien. ‘‘Did He Want to Mix and Mate with this Man?’: Mateship, Modernism and Homoerotic Primitivism.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 27, no. 1, 2012, doi: 10.20314/als.817f70be95.