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Reduced to a Map: Poetic Geographies of 'Australia', 1606-1708

Benison, Liam (2020) Reduced to a Map: Poetic Geographies of 'Australia', 1606-1708. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent, University of Porto. (KAR id:84715)

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Bandaiyan is a place inhabited and known since time immemorial by the Indigenous peoples of the continent now called Australia. When mariners from the Dutch United East India Company (VOC) landed on its shores in 1606, they sought gold and other sources of profit reputed to exist in Terra Australis Incognita ('the unknown southland'), a Renaissance theorization of the classical notion of the antipodes. Over the next century, a geographical discourse emerged in voyage accounts, maps, and utopian speculations, based on the observations of visitors to the continent, but notable for an absence of Indigenous knowledge, a scarcity of endogenous details, and negative misinterpretations about its inhabitants. Soon after the onset of the British colonial invasions in 1788, the continent was officially named 'Australia' after the Renaissance theory. Why did the collection of empirical observations of locations along the shores of Bandaiyan produce a poetic geographical discourse which continued to be associated with Terra Australis Incognita and ignored Indigenous people's presence? I adopt a geocritical approach based on Edward Casey's phenomenology of place to evince how myth, theory, observation, description, and projection were combined in poetic geographies produced in response to European experiences of Bandaiyan. An analysis of texts, maps, and illustrations published in Dutch, French, English, and other languages between 1606 and 1708 is set in the context of anthropological, linguistic, archaeological, and botanical evidence of classical (pre-Invasion) Aboriginal societies. I find that a standardized poetic geography of Hollandia Nova was created in the 1640s from VOC charts, whose main function was to visualize Dutch imperium. Aside from parts of the shore, it conveyed no details of Bandaiyan nor its peoples, who had often rejected their uninvited visitors' overtures to become 'known'. At the same time, few accounts of visitors' experiences of the continent were published, so that Terra Australis came gradually to be associated with metropolitan geography's new terra incognita, inspiring projections of colonial utopias in Europe's antipodes. Unpublished mariners' accounts provide more complex impressions, and make the best sources for further research into pre-colonial relations between visitors and Bandaiyan's peoples.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Klein, Bernhard
Thesis advisor: de Sousa Basto Vieira, Maria de Fátima
Uncontrolled keywords: Geography—History—17th century; Geography in literature; Place (Philosophy) in literature; Utopias in Literature; Australia—Discovery and exploration
Subjects: P Language and Literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Funders: Organisations -1 not found.
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2020 09:29 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Jan 2024 00:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Benison, Liam.

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