"Why, White Man, Why?" White Australia as the addressee of apostrophe in contemporary aboriginal writing

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  • Russell West
Contemporary Australian indigenous literature is characterised by a remarkably prevalent use of apostrophic address directed at the white reader. This mode of direct address in black literary texts draws attention to the political dynamics moulding reader-writer relations in contemporary Australia. The article examines numerous examples of this direct mode of address in prose, poetry and drama, and argues that this direct mode of address is a central element in the message of black writers. The use of apostrophe implies the active positioning' of the white reader on the part of the indigenous speaker; only by virtue of this positioning is the reading process made possible. The direct mode of address in these texts thus demands that the reader take up a stance characterised by a readiness to listen attentively to black literary voices.
Original languageEnglish
JournalZeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)166-178
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2002