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Lisa O'Connell (Full term)
The University of Queensland
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Post-revolutionary Loss, Malaise and Redemption: The Colonial Projections of Therese Huber

Therese Huber's Abentheuer auf einer Reise nach Neu-Holland [Adventures on a Voyage to New Holland] (1793-1794) was the first fiction set in colonial Australia and a remarkable product of first-wave German romanticism. This project aims to find terms for a new discussion of Huber's novel in the intersection of several current fields of literary-historical research, including literary sentimentalism, world literature, post-colonialism, post-revolutionary affect and the history of emotions.

Image from Huber T Abentheuer auf einer Reise nach Neu-Holland 600x300.jpg

Therese Huber’s Abentheuer auf einer Reise nach Neu-Holland [Adventures on a Voyage to New Holland] (published in serial form in the German women’s magazine, Flora 1793-94), a sentimental novel of post-Revolutionary loss, malaise and redemption, was the first fiction set in colonial Australia and a remarkable product of first-wave German romanticism. It is overlooked in scholarly discussion of settler colonialism and Romantic fiction, partly because it did not emerge from Anglophone contexts and partly because it belongs to a voluminous and devalued archive of women’s commercial/magazine fiction in the post-revolutionary period.

Huber’s novel is both compelling and contradictory: it ventriloquised the voice of her estranged husband, German naturalist, revolutionary and early Pacific voyager, Georg Forster, in order to imagine his return journey to the penal colony. It also used a language of sentimental progressivism to figure the redemptive power of love, marriage and family in the settler context. Huber herself never visited Australia; the extraordinary distance between her life and this work recalls the long tradition of pre-colonial, Utopic writing for which the Austral regions were places of fabulous inversion. It also suggests that sentimental projections across a distance onto colonial space expressed a variety of political wills and desires in the post-revolutionary context. O’Connell will argue that Huber’s colonial sentimentalism fashioned a post-revolutionary ideology that carried particular force for new female readerships of the commercial print sphere—one centred on bonds of love and affect in the context of local communities rather than citizenship and politics on the national-global stage.

Contact

l.oconnell@uq.edu.au

Conference papers

O’Connell, L. ‘Sensible Distances: The Colonial Projections of Therese Huber’, ‘Emotions: Movement, Cultural Contact and Exchange, 1100-1800’ conference, Freie Universität Berlin, 30 June to 2 July 2016.

O’Connell, L. ‘Therese Huber, 1793: A German Revolutionary’s Australia’, ‘The Colonial Re-invention of Anglo-European Literary Culture’ symposium, Freie Universität Berlin, 9-10 June 2016.


Image: ‘Title page from  Huber, T. ‘Abentheuer auf einer Reise nach Neu-Holland.’  Flora: Teutschlands Töchtern geweiht von Freunden und Freundinnen des schönen Geschlecht 4 (1793): 241-74.