What's a Bad Boy like You Doing in a Nice Place like This? Ned Kelly Faces off against American College Freshmen
Because very few Australian texts are included in the syllabi on North American college campuses, most American undergraduates know very little about Australian literature. Even if an English department has no course dedicated to Australian literature, this challenge can be overcome by introducing Australian texts into general education courses, such as world literature or composition. One such text which would fit very well into a liberal arts program is Peter Carey’s (2000) True History of the Kelly Gang. Three reasons make this novel worth studying: first, Carey’s focus on the bushranger Ned Kelly, an iconic Australian figure, reveals key insights into the Australian cultural tradition. Second, True History of the Kelly Gang deals with universal issues, which are relevant, challenging, and timely for today’s students. For example, Carey raises questions such as what makes a true national hero, whose interpretation of history is the most valid, and what are the most effective ways of correcting social injustices. Third, Peter Carey’s experimental approach to and use of language in this novel is so striking and unusual that North American students would have difficulty finding anything comparable elsewhere.