About SouthHem

Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere
Image: ‘Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere’. T. G. Bradford. A Comprehensive Atlas. New York: Wiley & Long, 1838. Courtesy of the David Rumsey Map Collection: www.davidrumsey.com.
Sculpture presented to the National Gallery by W. L. Clarke, 1879
Image: ‘Sculpture presented to the National Gallery by W. L. Clarke, 1879’. Australian Illustrated News, 21 February 1879. Courtesy of the State Library Victoria.
Reading by the Fire by Samuel Calvert
Image: ‘Fireside Reflections’. Samuel Calvert. Wood Engraving. Illustrated Australian News, 25 March 1874. Courtesy of the State Library Victoria.
Laboratory and ladies’ reading room in the Sydney School of Arts (1879)
Image: ‘Laboratory and ladies’ reading room in the Sydney School of Arts, 1879’. Illustrated Sydney News, 14 June 1879. Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.
Undated Letter by ‘John White’ or Chief Karetai’s to Te Raki c1860
Image: ‘Undated Letter’. ‘John White’ or Chief Karetai’s to Te Raki c1860. Octavius Harwood Papers. Courtesy of the Hocken Collections, University of Otago, MS-0438/163: https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/thehockenblog/2011/07/07/some-sources-for-southern-maori-dialect/
Hikayat Abdullah by Abdullah Abdul Kadir, Munshi
Image: Abdullah bin Abdul al Kadir. Hikayat Abdullah. Lithographed edition. Singapore: Mission Press, 1849. Courtesy of the National Library of Singapore.

SouthHem is a five-year (2016-2021) comparative study of the literary outputs and mediating institutions produced by British settlers, indigenous populations, and mixed-race peoples in the British-controlled Southern Hemisphere and Straits Settlements from 1780-1870. The project focuses on three transnational zones: ‘Zone 1’ (Oceania): Australia and New Zealand; ‘Zone 2’ (Southern Africa): Cape Colony and Natal; and ‘Zone 3’ (Straits Settlements): Singapore, Penang, and Malacca. The literatures considered in this context include writing in English, translations into English, transcriptions, and writing in languages of origin.

Research Questions

  • How did literary modernity (and its institutions, associations, and print cultures) emerge and develop outside of Europe and the Northern Hemisphere?
  • How did cultural capital and literary value accrue in the colonial Southern Hemisphere and Straits Settlements?
  • Was Romanticism a significant model of taste or did other standards of taste predominate?
  • How can we think about the relationship between settler and indigenous literary cultures in ways that credit the long histories of aesthetic production among colonized populations?

Work Packages

Work Package 1

“Books and Readers” (2016-2021) is a five-year book history and history of reading project, which traces the changing nature of colonial book holdings and reading habits through an analysis of library, auction, book-seller, and private catalogues.

Work Package 2

“Settler Literary Culture” (2016-2019) considers comparative case studies of white settler literary culture, looking at 1. literary institutions and associations; 2. literary productions and print cultures; and 3. the role of mediators.

Work Package 3

“Translations” (2019-2021) looks at indigenous and mixed-race writing mediated through English, either at the point of production or through translation or transcription.

Work Package 4

“Encounters” (2019-2021) focuses on literary encounters (in English or otherwise) between indigenous and white settler populations, including proximate encounters, distant or virtual encounters, and symbolic or imaginative encounters.