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Virginia Woolf and the Common(wealth) Reader$
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Helen Wussow and Mary Ann Gillies

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780989082679

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780989082679.001.0001

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From Bloomsbury to Fountain Lakes

From Bloomsbury to Fountain Lakes

An Australian Virginia Woolf

(p.121) From Bloomsbury to Fountain Lakes
Virginia Woolf and the Common(wealth) Reader

Melinda Smith

Liverpool University Press

This chapter considers an episode of the Australian sitcom Kath and Kim entitled “Kicking up a Stink,” which displays several representations of Virginia Woolf (ranging from writer to madwoman to wife) to challenge the British as a post-colonial cultural force in Australia. This episode demonstrates how nationalism is rhetorically constructed through popular culture, appealing to a mass Australian audience because of the ways Australianness counters Britishness. It showcases the popular image of Virginia Woolf by converting her into an Australian pop cultural icon, a simulacrum of Australian Virginia Woolf. Gleaning from the theories of Gramscian hegemony, the chapter analyzes this text as a piece of popular culture, which touts Australianness as complicating British hegemonic influence. Woolf's transformation from British to Aussie mimics the transformation of formerly British citizens into Australians; this image articulates the negotiation of white/dominant Australian identity as sometimes between national allegiances and tangled with British hegemony. Through the manipulation of Woolf's image into Australian nationalistic rhetoric, this Kath and Kim episode claims agency for Australians by re-contextualizing a popular British image, subverting the colonial hierarchy of oppression, and giving Australians a voice in negotiating their place within the Commonwealth and the broader world.

Keywords:   Virginia Woolf, Britain, Australia, Kath and Kim, Australian sitcom, nationalism, popular culture, Australian identity

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