june 2018

21jun12:4513:15Robert Rowe: Wet Sydney, Soaking Australia12:45 - 13:15 B: Studio 1

Event Details

Full title: Wet Sydney, Soaking Australia: Zygmunt Bauman’s “Liquid Modern Society” and Peter Corris’s Representation of City and Nation in The Empty Beach

In Zygmunt Bauman’s sociological studies Liquid Life (2005) and Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty (2007), he observes what he characterises as the movement from “solid” to “liquid” states of society. According to Bauman, the changes in modern life throughout the present late wave of globalisation denote a new era of human experience. Fluidity and liquidity are used as metaphors to better describe the ambivalence, speed of interactions, and unpredictability of life in modern society: “liquid life is precarious life, lived under conditions of constant uncertainty” (Liquid Life, 1-2). In this paper the representation of Sydney, and more broadly Australia, is considered in light of Bauman’s theory of social fluidity. It is posited that Peter Corris’s Cliff Hardy series addresses fundamental elements of the liquid society, such as ambivalence and uncertainty, by weaving together disparate cultural, geographical, and sociological fragments of Sydney and Australia’s imagined communities. The deductive process by which the mystery is solved gradually reduces uncertainty and temporarily dispels anxiety in the reader. Corris’s Hardy series is well poised for such an investigation as it covers the contemporary period of globalisation in Australia, especially with regard to the expansion and development of Sydney. Bauman’s liquid society is reflected in Corris’s construction of place and in Hardy’s fluid movements between places, both key modes of narratological progression. The significance of water as motif is evident in such titles as The Empty Beach (1983), Wet Graves (1991), Master’s Mates (2003), The Coast Road(2004), The Undertow (2006), and Deep Water (2010), with the focus of this paper on Corris’s foundational Hardy novel, The Empty Beach.


Robert Rowe is a current PhD English candidate at The biographical University of Newcastle, Australia. His doctoral thesis statement focuses on Australian hardboiled detective fiction and is entitled Wet Sydney, Soaking Australia or The Consolidation of Difference and Uncertainty in a Liquid Modern Society: City and Nation in Peter Corris’s Cliff Hardy Series and Other Australian Hardboiled Detective Literature. Robert graduated a Bachelor of Arts in 2015 with a Double Major in English and Writing. In 2016 he received Honours Class 1, the Faculty Medal, and had review articles published in The Translator journal. In 2017 he received the University Medal for English and Writing.



(Thursday) 12:45 - 13:15


B: Studio 1

Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EN