Fiona Allon at the Sydney Writers Festival

The Department of Gender and Cultural Studies’ Fiona Allon will be speaking about one of Australia’s favourite subjects: Real Estate.

The Big House: Dwelling in Excess from the Colony to Contemporary Australia

The Australian Dream is on steroids: recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that many new homes in Australia are now bigger than anywhere else in the world. With its home theatres, extra bathrooms and multiple bedrooms, the average house is much bigger than a decade ago. The ever expanding floorspace of Australian houses also means an ever expanding footprint. But environmental consequences are not the only concern. Increasingly larger houses also result in the privatising of space. With more and more importance attached to the size of private, interior spaces there is less attention given to shared public space and public connections and encounters with others. Yet the trophy house is not just a 21st century phenomenon. The ‘edifice complex’ was always present in Australia in the 19th and 20th centuries, with big houses used to display wealth, status and prosperity.

This talk looks at the quintessentially Australian desire to dwell in excess, with Fiona Allon, Grace Karskens and Charles Pickett discussing the aspirational big house from colonial times until now.

Wednesday, May 19 2010
13:00 – 14:00
The Mint
10 Macquarie Street
See the Sydney Writers Festival for more information


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