Paine College Professor Releases Book on Australian Aboriginal Literature and Culture

Posted by lsuggs | 08/23/2013 06:08 AM

 (Augusta, GA) -- Recently, Dr. Belinda Wheeler, assistant professor of English at Paine College released her first book, A Companion to Australian Aboriginal Literature. Wheeler has published several articles on Australian Aboriginal literature in edited collections prior to this book’s release.

A Companion to Australian Aboriginal Literature, states Wheeler, fills a large gap in Australian, Australian Aboriginal, multi-ethnic, and world literature studies: “Writing by Australian Aboriginals has been making a decisive impression in various genres including fiction, autobiography, biography, poetry, film, drama, and music, but until the book’s release there was no companion that contextualized the Aboriginal canon for scholars, researchers, students, and general readers.” “This international collection of eleven original essays discusses crucial aspects of Australian Aboriginal literature and traces the development of Aboriginal literacy from the oral tradition up until today making it an invaluable resource for anyone interested in Australian Aboriginal literature or culture,” said Wheeler.  

Last semester Wheeler taught a special topics course at Paine College, Australian Literature and Culture. “My students enjoyed all the material we covered in the class,” said Wheeler, “but they especially gravitated towards the Australian Aboriginal literature and culture material.” “Many connections exist between Australia’s Aboriginal literature and culture and America’s literature and culture, particularly African American and Native American communities,” said Wheeler, “and my students helped me recognize deeper connections than even I was originally aware.”

To Wheeler this book represents one of her primary goals as a college educator: “One of my primary interests as a teacher and a researcher is identifying key similarities and differences between various cultures and using that information to break down barriers and build bridges. A companion such as this allows all readers, regardless of their background, to learn more about one of the world oldest Indigenous cultures and begin building important bridges of understanding with their own culture. I am grateful to the companion’s international contributors, my publisher, and Paine College for their support as I worked on this important book.”

The book, published by Camden House, an imprint of Boydell & Brewer, has been released worldwide. “Interest in the book has been very strong,” said Wheeler. “The book has been released simultaneously in hardcover and e-book edition which means that anyone in the world can have instant access to the book. Some of the strongest markets for translated Aboriginal literature are in small markets, such as Slovenia, so this accessibility has been critical to the book’s success.”

The companion’s contributors include Katrin Althans, Maryrose Casey, Danica Cerce, Stuart Cooke, Paula Anca Farca, Michael R. Griffiths, Oliver Haag, Martina Horakova, Jennifer Jones, Andrew King, Jeanine Leane, and Theodore F. Sheckels. Nicholas Jose wrote the companion’s foreword, Peter Minter wrote a review of the book that appears on the book’s back cover, and young Indigenous artist, Chern’ee Sutton’s artwork adorns the book’s cover. (The book is listed on all sites worldwide. More information about the book can be found at:


About Dr. Belinda Wheeler: 
Originally from Queensland, Australia, Belinda Wheeler earned her B.A. in English from Purdue University in 2005, her M.A. in English from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) in 2008, and her Ph.D. in English from Southern Illinois University in 2011. Wheeler's research interests include American literature (particularly modernism), multicultural literature (including Australian Aboriginal literature, African American literature, and Native American literature), and print culture and book history. Wheeler teaches a range of classes at Paine College. In addition to A Companion to Australian Aboriginal Literature, she has published chapters on Australian Aboriginal literature in edited collections. Outside of her Australian Aboriginal scholarship, Wheeler has published articles on American modernist poets Lola Ridge and Gwendolyn Bennett in PMLA: "Lola Ridge's Pivotal Role at Broom" (March 2012) and "Gwendolyn Bennett's 'The Ebony Flute'" (forthcoming). She is currently completing a book on African American poet, artist, editor, columnist, and educator Gwendolyn Bennett entitled, Gwendolyn Bennett: The Harlem Renaissance's Quintessential Poet, Artist, Editor, and Columnist (University Press of Mississippi) and she is the facilitator and coordinator for this year’s UNCF/Mellon Teaching and Learning Institute, “Expanding the Harlem Renaissance’s Relevance across the Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) Curriculum.”

For more information, please contact Leah Suggs in the Office of Communications and Marketing at 706.396.7591, 803.524.3195, or


Photo Caption: Book cover to A Companion to Australian Aboriginal Literature, by Paine College faculty memeber, Dr. Belinda Wheeler.