Q. “Comment on the ways in which understanding a texts context of production would help readers make meaning from it”
A. Cloudstreet, written by Tim Winton in the 1980’s and published in 1991, is a novel born out of its historical context. It agrees and affirms many of the key ideas of the time; that national pride is crucial towards Australian national identity, and the evolving acceptance of the Indigenous having rights to their own land. However, the text rejects more notions of the time than it affirms, rejecting ideas of individualism and higher education for all. Instead, it offers an idealized representation of an Australian society that has long passed, giving a nostalgic view of the simplicity Australia had at the time. Understanding this context of production helps I, as a reader, to understand the characters actions and development, and shapes how I read and understand the novel.
Cloudstreet represents Australia as a monoculture, and depicts the struggle of the Anglo-Celtic’s to reconcile with the indigenous. Knowing that at the time, there were vigorous immigration policies and that migrants, who were defined as “disadvantaged”, were made a priority, helps the reader to understand that the text is suggesting that despite all of this Australia remained a monoculture at the time, and allows us to see the tension within the novel, that its almost turning its back on multiculturalism.
The text sees ownership of land as unproblematic and simple, yet at the time the Mabo decision of 1992 took 10 years to expose the myth of “terra nullius” (that land belongs to nobody), to finally give indigenous people rights to their own land. Understanding that at the time, such a decision was very complicated, helps us as readers to understand that the novel is trying to suggest that perhaps it shouldn’t have been as problematic as it was, and is nostalgic towards a time that maybe never existed; where races lived in harmony and resolved their problems at...
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