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The bunyip as uncanny rupture: Fabulous animals, innocuous quadrupeds and the Australian anthropocene


Edmonds, P, The bunyip as uncanny rupture: Fabulous animals, innocuous quadrupeds and the Australian anthropocene, Australian Humanities Review, 63 pp. 80-98. ISSN 1325-8338 (2018) [Refereed Article]

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My love affair with museums began when I was seven. I saw a bunyip's head in a glass case, a strange, unsettling creature with a one-eyed blind stare, a cycloptic monster. I was small and I stood up on my toes to see the creature through the glass. On show, the bunyip was mounted in a tall, ornate nineteenth-century wooden cabinet. The typed paper label gave scientific verification: ‘A bunyip’s head, New South Wales. 1841.’ I recall the palpable shock of it, and my mixed childhood emotions: bunyips were real. With its long jawbone wrapped in fawn-coloured fur, it was a decapitated Australian swampdweller preserved. Yet, the horrific creature looked so sad, and with its sightless eye, gaping mouth and cartoonish backward drooping ears. It was a creature of pathos — a gormless, goofy redhead, a ranga, a total outsider.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:bunyip, museum, Australia, anthropocene, Macleay Museum, fabulous animals
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Heritage, archive and museum studies
Research Field:Critical heritage, museum and archive studies
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Heritage
Objective Field:Conserving collections and movable cultural heritage
UTAS Author:Edmonds, P (Associate Professor Penny Edmonds)
ID Code:129980
Year Published:2018
Deposited By:Office of the School of Humanities
Deposited On:2019-01-03
Last Modified:2019-03-18

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