School of Culture and Communication - Theses

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    Fielding Peter Carey: economy, archive, celebrity
    Allahyari, Keyvan ( 2018)
    This thesis accounts for a method of reading Carey’s fiction as works of national literature in the minor register (colonial, peripheral, small) which refract a sense of the possibility of circulation in transnational literary markets. The publication of Carey’s debut work, The Fat Man in History, by the University of Queensland Press in 1974 coincided with the termination of The Traditional Markets Agreement, which resulted in assisting American publishers to roam more freely in the Australian literary market. Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of the literary field, capital, and habitus, my thesis starts by examining the publication of The Fat Man as a microevent to better understand the macroevent of Carey’s position-taking in the transnational marketplace. The mid-1970s shifted Carey’s position in the field and established a trajectory through which he accumulated significant cultural and economic capital in the following decades. This method interrogates Carey’s rising visibility in relation to the construction of a new status for the postcolonial authors and the possibilities of the global publishing industry since the 1960s throughout to the present moment, including the politics of literary prizes and literary festivals, the rise of literary agents, the commodification of literary archives, and the merging of conglomerate publishing houses. Carey’s fiction exhibits the anxieties of an Australian author ensnared in neoliberal systems of literary production and distribution, a free market economy biased against national territories (such as Australia) on the periphery of a world republic of letters. Drawing on the sociological paradigm of Pierre Bourdieu, this thesis asks how, and to what extent, can we think of Carey’s fiction and his writerly persona as cultural objects circulating within the global literary marketplace? How does his fiction refract the global forces that produce and distribute his books and celebrity? And what is the relationship between Carey’s stories and the literary marketplace, between the making of his books and the reading of them? Thus, my study offers a lateral examination of two interrelated aspects of Carey’s fiction. On the one hand, it captures a continuum of Australian and transnational practices of literary distinction and advancement that governed the critical and financial success of Carey’s fiction; on the other, it produces insights into the structural homologies between the literary spaces that Carey inhabits and those of his Australian characters confined to minor systems of cultural production and consumption.