Behind the curtain lecture series: Through Ella's Eyes

Behind the curtain lecture series: Through Ella's Eyes

10 Aug 2011

Ella Simon was a remarkable Aboriginal woman who became one of the most prominent citizens of the Taree district. During 1976 - 1978 she dictated the story of this remarkable life which was published as Through My Eyes.

aboriginal-flag-stdIn a continuation of the La Trobe University’s Behind the Curtain program of seminars, newly appointed lecturer in Indigenous Studies at the Bendigo Campus, Dr Jennifer Jones, will present a paper comparing Ella’s original oral manuscript to the final published text.  Jones will discuss what this reveals of what this Aboriginal author could then ʻsaysʼ to her audience and recuperates knowledge that challenged accepted understandings about the use of autobiography.

Foundational Aboriginal women writers began publishing their life stories in the 1970s, spurred by the need to communicate the truth of Aboriginal experience to the Australian public. These narratives were often mediated by a white collaborator whose interventions attempted to balance the (often incompatible) needs of a white readership with the cultural imperatives of the Aboriginal author. When Ella Simon, a Biripi woman from Taree on the mid north coast of NSW, recorded her oral narrative in 1973 she aimed to reach both Aboriginal and white readers. This seminar will consider Ella Simonʼs original oral narrative; how her teaching objectives and sense of audience are reflected in the production of text and how her white editors handled the Aboriginalisation of genre.

Through Ella’s Eyes will be held at the La Trobe Visual Arts Centre, 121 View Street, Bendigo on Wednesday 17 August at 6pm. Members of the public are invited to this free program  with refreshments after the seminar. The seminar is part of program of seminars organised by La Trobe University, Bendigo titled BEHIND THE CURTAIN. One of the coordinators of the program, Dr Sofia Ahlberg, said that the series is ‘responding to the massive revolt against the conspiracy of silence and the proliferation of spin in recent times.’

Dr Jennifer Jones, lecturer in Indigenous Studies, joined La Trobe University's Department of Historical and European Studies in July 2011. Her most recent research project, an Australian Research Council funded Post Doctoral Fellowship, examined Aboriginal Branches of the Country Womenʼs Association of NSW 1956-1972, and was conducted at the University of Melbourne.


Dr Jennifer Jones is available for interview. Ph 03 5444 7740

For further information on the program please contact Associate Professor Trevor Budge, Ph 03 5444 7230 E

Media enquiries

Zerin Knight, Ph (03) 5444 7375 F +613 5444 7526 M 0428 463 161 E




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