Last month, I attended a symposium in Newport about memorialisation and the thirty-five bridge workers who died when the West Gate Bridge collapsed in 1970. The ‘past is never over’, observed visiting Canadian academic Tara Goldstein, because we are always reinterpreting history and, therefore, must always interrogate ‘veracity’. The royal commission into the accident held unions and workers partly accountable; as one of the speakers argued, in the lead-up to the fifty-year anniversary of the disaster, this is a narrative that must be corrected.
There is a partisan nature to remembering. Hegemonic history, presented as contained and indisputable, is a fiction, and rarely takes into account the class forces that shape these events.
There are also the questions of the pasts we choose to remember. This edition examines the memorialisation of Australian medievalism (and the fall of Constantinople) and reconsiders the history of the notion of ‘Australia Day’ and its insignificance. Elsewhere, there is a comparison of century-old Noongar letters and the #IndigenousDads twitter campaign; a survey of the contemporary Australian essay; and an account of women’s wrestling, popular culture and spectacle.
Our writers remember the past in order to change the future, something Jennifer Mills reflects on in her memorial for utopias and dystopias, as do the four writers she commissioned as departing Overland fiction editor. We are indebted to for her magnificent work and the role she played in shaping the fiction within and outside these pages.
Included in this issue are the winners of the 2018 Fair Australia Prize, powerful renderings of labour, each and every one. And a selection of poetry by Toby Fitch that makes the personal urgent.
With the discovery of the illustration of a cockatoo in a medieval manuscript, we are reminded that the past is indeed ‘not over’, that it is not fixed or known, but shaped by external forces and thinking. Prior to invasion, there are countless histories; some have been shared or uncovered, but there is more to learn.
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