The new issue of JEASA partly thematizes the 2015 EASA conference organized by the University of Pannonia in Veszprém, Hungary. The theme of the conference, “Australia as Topos: The Transformation of Australian Studies,” is reflected in several articles in this issue, particularly in those centered on mediating Australia for European audience and/or on “European” and transnational readings of contemporary Australian literature. These articles are complemented by texts on more general themes that are briefly introduced below.

Daniel Hempel‘s article “Utopia and Ideology in the Vision of the Jindyworobaks” examines the dualistic nature of the movement which, on the one hand, attempted to articulate a new sense of belonging in Australian environment via learning from the First Australians but, on the other hand, it still denied them a legitimate voice. Using the theories of Paul Ricœur, Ernst Bloch and Slavoj Zizek, Hempel argues that the movement is defined precisely by this interplay between progressive utopia and ideological regression.

In “Reading Mabo in Peter Goldsworthy’s Three Dog Night,” Geoff Rodoreda analyses the ways in which the text engages with post-Mabo discourses in the form of variously acknowledging, if not directly thematizing, Indigenous presence in both Australian land and history. This allows him to read Goldsworthy’s novel particularly as post-Mabo fiction.

Tomasz Gadzina, in “Australia: An Inescapable Cultural Paradigm? Cross- and Transcultural Elements in Tim Winton’s Fiction” reads Tim Winton’s writing from the perspective of its cross- and transcultural character, making a claim that while Winton’s oeuvre creates recognizable, particularly Australian settings, characters, symbols and themes, by simultaneously transgressing and reworking them into cross-cultural symbols Winton becomes a truly transcultural writer.

The article by Marie Herbillon, “Writing Space in the Plural: New Australian Geographies in Murray Bail’s Fiction” also takes up the notion of place and space as crucial in forming Australian identity, arguing that Bail in his recent work shifts from his earlier representations of Australian space as mythical or dual to a more inclusive spatial imagination based on his re-mappings of Australia.

Jenny Hocking and Laura Donati return to the colonial period of Australian history and draw attention to a group of women who travelled to Australia as free wives of the convicts. In their article “Obscured but not Obscure: How History Ignored the Remarkable Story of Sarah Wills Howe,” they use the life story of Sarah Wills Howe as an illustrative example to show that some of these women demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in terms of their complex economic and legal agency.

It is particularly illuminating to compare how Nataša Kampmark and Jan Lencznarowicz focus in their articles on representations of Australia in the works of Serbian migrants to Australia (written in Serbian) and in the memoirs of Polish diggers (written in Polish), respectively, and how these impressions of Australia work their way into (non-British) European cultural imaginary. In “The Topos of Australia in Contemporary Serbian Language Writing of First-generation Serbian Migrants to Australia,” Kampmark identifies and analyzes a number of Australian topoi in Serbian migrant writing which introduce Australia as both physical and mental concept which plays into the migrant nostalgia of a lost homeland preventing a successful assimilation.

In “Australian Colonial Society and Its Ethnic Diversity in Polish Diggers’ Memoirs,” Jan Lencznarowicz examines how three Polish diggers, having traveled to Australian goldfields in the 1850 and 1860s, reflected the social realities of colonial Australia in their memoirs while at the same time projecting their own political and cultural identities influenced by the situation in their homeland. They mediated to their Polish countrymen an interesting collage of their impressions and their outsiders’ insights into the workings of colonial Australia provide an unusual and refreshing perspective. 

Finally, I’m also delighted to present another interview – a feature that started to appear in the previous issue – this time with Australian poet Anupama Pilbrow, who talks about the Melbourne poetry scene, her editorial work at The Suburban Review, how she feels about the position of “emerging” writer, while also explaining the ways in which mathematics can be inspirational for her poetry.

As always, I want to thank all reviewers, both Australian and European, who invested their time and expertise into evaluating submitted articles and thus helped sustain the high quality of the published texts. I also thank Adela Branna from the Masaryk University who has now become JEASA‘s regular copy editor.

Enjoy reading new JEASA!

Martina Horakova, JEASA general editor