“Songs of an Exile”: Eliza Hamilton Dunlop

Monday 18 September 2023 at 4:30pm (BST), 1:30am (AEST)
Prof Anna Johnston, University of Queensland
‘“Songs of an Exile”: Sentiment and Violence in Eliza Hamilton Dunlop’s Irish and Australian Elegies, 1838-63’

This paper focuses on the Irish and Australian poetry of Eliza Hamilton Dunlop (1796-1880), who emigrated to New South Wales in 1838 from Coleraine. Dunlop’s best known (and highly controversial) poem, ‘The Aboriginal Mother’, was written in response to the 1838 Myall Creek Massacre, one of the only massacres of First Nations people by settlers that were prosecuted in the colonial Australian courts. More conventionally, Dunlop’s sentimental elegies mourned Anglo-Irish family members and members of colonial society. Connecting Dunlop’s literary and family history back to Northern Ireland reveals how she used a sentimental poetic discourse, popular with women publishing in new periodicals and literary albums, to grapple with ‘the uncanny persistence of violence in a globalised liberal society’ (Hensley, Forms of Empire, 1). The bloody history of revolution and its suppression in Ireland remained potent metaphors through Dunlop’s writing career. She joins a cadre of poets who imagined liberal forms of colonialism, while also finding themselves deeply implicated in its contradictions and complicities.

Anna Johnston is Professor of English Literature in the School of Communications and Arts at the University of Queensland, Australia. She has published widely in the field of colonial and postcolonial studies, focussing on literary and cultural history. Her new monograph, The Antipodean Laboratory: Making Colonial Knowledge, 1770-1870, will be published in October 2023 by CUP.

This seminar will take place in hybrid form: both in-person in 27 University Square 01/003 and online via MS Teams. Please indicate your mode of attendance when registering.