Barron Field in New South Wales
The Poetics of Terra Nullius
On 24 February 1817, Barron Field sailed into Sydney Harbour on the convict transport Lord Melville to a ceremonial thirteen-gun salute. He was there as the new Judge of the Supreme Court of Civil Judicature in New South Wales - the highest legal authority in the turbulent colony. Energetic and gregarious, Field immediately set about impressing his vision of a future Australia as a liberal and prosperous nation. He courted the colony's leading figures, engaged in scientific research and even founded Australia's first bank. He also wrote poetry: in 1819, he published First Fruits of Australian Poetry, the first book of poems ever printed in the country. In England, Field had been the theatre critic for The Times, and a friend of such major Romantic writers as William Wordsworth, Charles Lamb and Leigh Hunt. In New South Wales, he saw the chance to become a major figure himself, someone who could shape culture and society in enduring ways. Founding Australian poetry was part of that ambition. This book is an extraordinary reconstruction of the circumstances and implications of Field's actions in New South Wales using an original and revealing method: the close reading.
About this Author
Thomas H. Ford is a Senior Lecturer in English at La Trobe University. His previous titles include How to Read a Poem: Seven Steps (Routledge, 2021) and the prize-winning Wordsworth and the Poetics of Air: Atmospheric Romanticism in a Time of Climate Change (Cambridge University Press, 2018). Justin Clemens has published extensively on the relationships between poetry, psychology and philosophy in Romantic and post-Romantic writing, including Psychoanalysis is an Antiphilosophy (Edinburgh University Press, 2013). He is an Associate Professor in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne.
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