8 October 2007

Australia’s cultural history need no longer be regarded “a tale of two cities” thanks to Dr William Hatherell’s recently released book, The Third Metropolis.

Based on a PhD completed through UQ’s School of English, Media Studies and Art History in 2003, the book explores the history of Brisbane between 1940 and 1970.

“Anything written on Australia’s cultural history has largely been about Sydney and Melbourne, or a comparison between the two,” Dr Hatherell said.

“Brisbane is Australia’s third largest city yet there has not been a lot of focus on its cultural significance.

“The title, The Third Metropolis was, in a way, an attempt to place Brisbane in the same context as Sydney and Melbourne.”

The book cleverly combines three intertwining aspects of Brisbane’s history in an effort to explore the cultural significance of the city.

“I bring together elements of Brisbane’s actual history – political, demographic and economic; its cultural history – the history of societies and art galleries; and literary representations,” Dr Hatherell said.

“There was significant tension between the representation of Brisbane as a big country town and a true metropolis.

“Brisbane is often seen represented in images as a ‘cultural desert’ but I don’t think that’s quite right. There was a lot of cultural activity during the period.”

Brisbane’s sophisticated cultural pursuits, particularly during the post-World War Two era, provided added inspiration to undertake the project.

Meanjin, the cultural journal, was launched in Brisbane in 1940 and moved to Melbourne in 1945. Authors such as David Malouf, Rodney Hall and Thea Astley have represented 1950s Brisbane through literature. I was interested in exploring quite an active period in Brisbane’s cultural life,” Dr Hatherell said.

The Third Metropolis provides one of the first accounts of Brisbane’s cultural history, and is Dr Hatherell’s first book.

“I recognised a gap in the literature and realised there was a gap in the market,” Dr Hatherell said.

Dr Hatherell completed an Honours degree in English in 1980 and returned to UQ in 2000 to begin his PhD.

The Third Metropolis is published by University of Queensland Press and retails at $45.

Media: Further information, Dr Hatherell (3138 1631, w.hatherell@qut.edu.au) or Penny Robinson (3365 9723, penny.robinson@uq.edu.au)