Paranoid prizing : the facts and fictions of Australia’s Eve Pownall Award for Information Books, 2001-2010
Hateley, Erica (2012) Paranoid prizing : the facts and fictions of Australia’s Eve Pownall Award for Information Books, 2001-2010. In Literary Slipstreams. 39th Annual Children’s Literature Association (ChLA) Conference, 14-17 June 2012, Boston, Mass. (Unpublished)
Ghassan Hage asserts the “core element of Australia’s colonial paranoia is a fear of loss of Europeanness or Whiteness and the lifestyle and privileges that are seen to emanate directly from them. This is a combination of the fragility of White European colonial identity in general and the specificity of the Australian situation” (419). This ‘White paranoia’ can be traced through a range of popular cultural formations, including contemporary Australian children’s literature. The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) awards an annual prize for “outstanding books which have the prime intention of documenting factual material with consideration given to imaginative presentation, interpretation and variation of style” (“Awards”) published in the preceding year. Although not often included in critical debates, non-fictional texts overtly seek to shape young readers’ understandings of their national context and their own location as national subjects. Thus, the books named as winners and honours of this prize from 2001-2010 provide a snapshot of which facts and whose fictions are salient in shaping the Australian nation in the twenty-first century. Using Hage’s concept of Australian colonial paranoia, this paper considers the relationship between ‘factual material’ and ‘imaginative presentation’ in the ongoing revision and renewal of national myths in award-winning Australian non-fiction for children.
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