Gender and Race Relations in Elizabeth O’Conner’s Northern Homesteads


This article examines Elizabeth O’Conner’s seven books, published between 1958 and 1980, as works which functioned ideologically to implement a desire in post-World War II Australia to reformulate and reaffirm the conservative values of the frontier era. Used as exemplifications of national discourses in their era, O’Conner’s books focus on representations of the homestead and reveal a number of common parameters, such as hierarchical middle-class structures, concentration on the solidity of marriage and on feminised, domesticated spaces contextualised within an outdoor masculine world of work, and an assumption of Aboriginal inferiority. Thus homesteads in these popular books serve as sites for preserving class and racial distinctions.

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Published 1 May 2003 in Volume 21 No. 1. Subjects: Aboriginal Australians - Literary portrayal, Crosscultural relations, Gender - Literary portrayal, Homesteads, Popular fiction, Romance (Literary form), Sexual life & gender relations, Social life.

Cite as: Taylor, Cheryl . ‘Gender and Race Relations in Elizabeth O’Conner’s Northern Homesteads.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 21, no. 1, 2003, doi: 10.20314/als.a6987c05b0.