Boundary Riders’ Writing (Arthur Upfield, Ion Idriess, Bill Harney) – Roundtable discussion


October 14, 2014 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Room 201, School of Foreign Languages Building (北京大学外国语学院大楼)
Peking University
5 Yiheyuan Road, Haidian, China
100080 (北京市海淀区颐和园路5号)
Seats are limited so please RSVP to: Michael McGregor (
(+86) 132 6171 0163


The talk:

My talk, ‘A Crime is Not a Crime’, juxtaposes the avant garde, modernist detective fiction of Gertrude Stein’s Blood on the Dining Room Floor with the pulp fiction Napoleon Bonaparte series written by Arthur Upfield. These two works could be read as being on opposite ends of a stylistic spectrum, but in reading them dialectically we can reflect on questions of genre, form, ideology, audience and hybridity. Stein and Upfield encourage many questions including: What methods of reading are open to us when we read highbrow and lowbrow works together? How can we contribute to the recent re-thinking of modernism’s relationship to popular culture by examining Stein’s murder mystery? How can we reflect on one pulp fiction writer’s academic influences, which have hitherto escaped scholarly attention? What should a creative practice look like in light of these discussions and how should we approach a hybrid form in our own work? I will discuss this in relation to Stein, Upfield and contemporary detective, crime and mystery prose writing from Australia. I examine both authors separately before examining them together and drawing on Leon Trotsky to discuss questions of being a ‘fellow traveller’ to modernism and pulp.

The speaker:

Robert Wood is based at the University of Western Australia, where he is a PhD student in English and Cultural Studies. He holds a BA (hons) from the Australian National University, where he was a National Undergraduate Scholar, and an AM (History) from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Benjamin Franklin Fellow. He has been a recipient of grants from the Pew Foundation and Google Outreach and has had work published in Jacket2, Southerly and Best Australian Poems 2013. His research concerns representations of indigenous subjects in popular literature and film – focusing on crime writing and twentieth century transnational popular fiction and film. He also has a theoretical interest in the intersection between post-colonialism, cultural studies and race and gender studies. He teaches the ‘Introduction to Australian Studies’ unit for visiting international students at UWA and has publications that are forthcoming in Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, Foucault Studies and The Journal of Popular Culture.