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Noel Rowe, Ethical Investigations: Essays on Australian Literature and Poetics

Winner of the 2009 Walter McRae Russell Prize 

“Ethical Investigations comprises twelve essays written by Noel Rowe between 1986 and 2007, and edited after Noel’s death by Bernadette Brennan. It was awarded the 2009 Walter McRae Russell Prize for the best work of literary scholarship on an Australian subject. The collection combines both published and previously unpublished essays. It reflects and documents the work of one of Australia’s finest literary critics, bringing together insights and reflections developed over an all too brief scholarly life. When she launched this collection at the University of Sydney in 2009, Elizabeth McMahon spoke eloquently of the gift that it constitutes, not only as an invaluable resource for scholars of Australian literature, but also as an uncompromising reminder of what she called ‘the value’ of Rowe’s critical attention: ‘a habit of attention to words, to the world, to the nuance of a moment, that refuses to deflect its gaze from the business of observation, assessment, subtlety and precision.’ This collection reminds us that critical work at its best draws us into an ethical relation with the world, a relation that reconstrues our sense of both poetry and terror, of the gaps and the links between artistic responsibility and what Rowe calls the writer’s ‘duty of learning’.”

Brigitta Olubas

Noel Rowe (20 June 1951 – 11 July 2007) was a poet who lived in Sydney, Australia, and was Senior Lecturer in Australian Literature at the University of Sydney where he was also awarded the University Medal (1984) and doctorate (1989). His books include Perhaps, After All (Vagabond, 2000), Next to Nothing (Vagabond Stray Dog, 2004) and Touching the Hem (Vagabond, 2006). He was co-editor of the literary journal Southerly. He also, with Vivian Smith, edited Windchimes: Asia in Australian Poetry(Pandanus Books, 2006). In 2005, Rowe was awarded the William Baylebridge Memorial Prize for poetry. He was also invited to read his poetry at International Festivals in Rotterdam (2005) and Jerusalem (2006). He had particular interest in the interrelationship between literature, theology and ethics. Rowe died on 11 July 2007, after being ill for two years. He is deeply missed by the Sydney poetry community he did so much to support and encourage.

Edited by Bernadette Brennan.

2008. 240pp. ISBN 978-0-9805113-1-4.

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