The ‘What is the Sacred?’ GSS Postgraduate Masterclass with Lyn McCredden was held on May 3 2019. 

Lyn McCredden

 What is the Sacred?

A Postgraduate Workshop with Lyn McCredden

In early 2019, a handful of Victorian state members of parliament called for a removal of “The Lord’s Prayer” from their daily commencement rituals. In the name of a secular and multicultural society, some MPs are calling for a replacement of the prayer with either silence, or an alternating of prayers from different faiths represented in the society. At the same time, a few conservative members of the parliament have been “refusing to stand for the Indigenous ‘Acknowledgement of Country’”(The Age). Australian culture is in the grip of great change: we are asking what the past means, who is responsible for past acts of violence and brutality, and how will a vision of justice emerge amongst us – politically? legally? spiritually?

In my research across the past twenty years, I have been developing understandings of “the sacred” in Australian literature and popular culture. In this paper, part of an essay written for the forthcoming Routledge Anthology New Directions in Australian Literary Studies, I will argue that one issue in Australian culture can be seen as core to future individual and communal health. What might it mean in the wider conversations around Australia’s history and future self-understandings, that many Indigenous people (though certainly not all) do work and live with concepts of sacredness. At the same time, many non-Indigenous Australians have not been able or willing to address this challenging category, let alone the multiplicity of beliefs and sacred practices existing in Australia today? While Australia is often simply designated secular (as if “Australia” could be such a monolithic entity), this description neglects the diverse and increasingly influential aspects of Indigenous sacredness, as much as it turns awkwardly away from the many religious or spiritually searching writings of Indigenous, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim and other traditions, which Australia has produced across the last century.


About the Speaker 

Lyn McCredden is Professor of Literary Studies at Deakin University. She is the author of numerous volumes of literary criticism, including James McAuley (1992), Bridgings: Reading Australian Women’s Poetry (with Rose Lucas, 1996), Intimate Horizons: the Postcolonial Sacred in Australian Literature (with Frances Devlin Glass and Bill Ashcroft, 2009), and The Fiction of Tim Winton: Earthed and Sacred (2017). She has written on Indigenous Australian literature by authors Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Tony Birch, Lisa Bellear, Sam Wagan Watson; and on feminist writers such as Virginia Woolf, Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, Ania Walwicz, Pam Brown. She is a poet, with one volume entitled Wanting Only (Ginninderra Press, 2018)

For more information about the ‘First Fridays’ Deakin Gender and Sexuality Studies HDR Masterclass and Seminar series



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