Becoming “Pacific-Minded”

Australian Middlebrow Writers in the 1940s and the Mobility of Texts

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Anna Johnston University of Queensland

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The travel writer Frank Clune saw World War II as a turning point in Australia’s consciousness, turning its inhabitants’ attention to the Pacific region. Similarly, the writer Ernestine Hill was delighted to find new American markets for her Australian books in wartime as troops were mobilized across the Pacific theater. In America, as Janice Radway has shown, the sentimental mode of “middlebrow personalism” enabled writers to engage their readers in wider geopolitical affairs. Middlebrow intellectuals, texts, and institutions were crucial in educating Americans about their evolving midcentury relationships with Asia, just as writers such as Clune and Hill educated Australians about the Pacific: a coalition of American and Australian mobilities and imaginaries in middlebrow midcentury print culture. This article examines the multiple ways in which these books and their writers “made Australia” in terms of a regional imaginary that extended across the Pacific during this period.

Contributor Notes

Anna Johnston is an associate professor in English literature in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, and in the School of Communication and Arts, at the University of Queensland. She also holds an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship. Anna has published widely in the field of colonial and postcolonial studies, focusing on literary and cultural history. Her most recent book, coauthored with Mitchell Rolls, is Travelling Home, Walkabout Magazine and Mid-Twentieth-Century Australia (Anthem, 2016). E-mail:

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Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies


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