Associate Professor Elizabeth McMahon

Associate Professor, Deputy Head of School
BA (Hons) (English and Australian Literature) USyd; PhD (Australian Literature), USyd
School of the Arts & Media


+61 2 9385 1164
+61 2 9385 6812
Room RM 223, Level 2, Robert Webster
Kensington Campus
Fields: Cultural Studies, Literary Studies
Tags: Languages and literature, Other Cultural Understanding


Dr Elizabeth McMahonis an Associate Professor in the School of the Arts and Media.  Her research interestes are in Australian literature, Island Studies and Gender studies.

Her current research, funded by an ARC Discovery grant, is titled Our Island Home: The Shifting Map of Australian Literature.  Dr McMahon is a member of the AUSTLIT research group, an inter-university collaboration for electronic resources in Australian literature funded by the ARC’s LIEF program. She has also published widely on the representation of gender and sexuality in Australian writing, and recently edited, with Dr Brigitta Olubas, a new collection on Patrick White. Since 2008 she also co-edits Southerly, Australian oldest literary journal.

ELizabeth has extensive experience as a supervisor with eight PhD successful completions and 6 current students. The topics of these theses range from Australian, New Zealand and and US literature, to Foucauldian theory, and trash aesthetics.



    • McMahon EN, 2016, Islands, Identity and the Literary Imagination, 1, Anthem Press, London and New York
    • McMahon EN, 2013, Southerly; Islands and Archipelagos, 72.3, Brandl and Schlesinger for the English Association, Blackheath NSW,
    • McMahon EN, (ed.), 2011, Southerly, 71.1, Brandl & Schelsinger, Blackheath Australia
    • McMahon EN; Olubas B, (eds.), 2010, Remembering Patrick White: Contemporary Critical Essays, 1, Rodopi, Amsterdam, New York
    • McMahon EN; Olubas B, (eds.), 2006, Women Making Time: Contemporary Feminist Critique and Cultural Analysis, First, University of WA Press, Perth

    Book Chapters

    • Galliott J, 2015, 'Introduction', in Commercial Space Exploration: Ethics, Policy and Governance, pp. 1 - 6
    • McMahon EN, 2015, 'Parallax Vision: Parallel Lives', in Literary Career in the Modern Era, edn. 1, Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 130 - 146
    • Dixon R; Ginsburg T, 2014, 'Introduction', in Comparative Constitutional Law in Asia, pp. 1 - 20, 10.4337/9781781002704.00006
    • McMahon EN, 2012, 'Continental Heartlands and Alex Miller’s Geosophical Imaginary', in Dixon R (ed.), The Novels of Alex Miller, edn. Original, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, pp. 125 - 137
    • McMahon EN, 2010, 'The Lateness and the Queerness of The Twyborn Affair: White's Farewell to the Novel', in McMahon E; Olubas B (ed.), Remembering Patrick White: Contemporary Critical Essays, edn. 1, Rodopi, Amsterdam, New York, pp. 77 - 94
    • McMahon EN, 2006, 'Wasted Memory and Generational History: Tasmania`s abandoned places', in McMahon E; Olubas B (ed.), Women Making Time: Contemporary Feminist Critique and Cultural Analysis, edn. First, University of WA Press, Perth, pp. 43 - 62
    • McMahon EN, 2003, 'The Guilded Cage: from utopia to monad in Australia`s island imaginary', in Edmond R; Smith V (ed.), Islands in History and Representation, edn. First, Routledge Press, London, pp. 190 - 202

    Journal articles

    • McMahon EN, 2013, 'Archipelagic space and the uncertain future of national literatures.', Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, vol. 13, pp. 1 - 20,
    • McMahon EN, 2013, 'Reading the Planetary Archipelago of the Torres Strait -', Island Studies Journal, vol. 8, pp. 55 - 66,
    • McMahon EN, 2012, 'Mary Gaunt and the Modern Waning of Affect', Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (JASAL), vol. 12, pp. 1 - 11,
    • McMahon EN, 2011, 'Review of Archipelagoes: Insular Fictions from Chivalric Romance to the Novel by Simone Pinet,', Island Studies Journal, vol. 6, pp. 267 - 269,
    • McMahon EN, 2010, 'The Proximate Pleasure of Eve Sedgwick: A Legacy of Intimate Reading', Australian Humanities Review, vol. 48, pp. na,
    • McMahon EN, 2008, 'The Sister Arts: An Introduction', Southerly, vol. 68, pp. 5 - 12
    • McMahon EN, 2007, 'Judith Wright and the temporality of composition (The `Moving Image`)', Australian Literary Studies, vol. 23, pp. 15 - 26
    • McMahon EN, 2007, 'The Centaur and the Cyborg: Abject Becoming on the Colonial Frontier', Southerly, vol. 67, pp. 211 - 225
    • McMahon EN, 2007, 'Judith Wright and the Temporality of Composition', Australian Literary Studies, vol. 23.2, pp. 15 - 26
    • McMahon EN, 2005, 'Review of Barbara Creed`s, `Media Matrix: Sexing the New Reality`', Australian Feminist Studies, vol. 20, No.27, pp. 272 - 273
    • McMahon EN, 2005, 'Encapsulated Space: The Paradise Prison of Australia`s Island Imaginery', Southerly, vol. 65, No. 1, pp. 20 - 29
    • McMahon EN, 2005, 'False as Eden: Constituting the Female Subject in Time', Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (JASAL), vol. 4, pp. 173 - 184
    • McMahon EN, 2005, 'Puberty Blues Takes Feminist Generationalism to the Beach', Australian Feminist Studies, vol. 20, No.48, pp. 281 - 289
    • McMahon EN, 2005, 'Review: Media Matrix: Sexing the new reality', Australian Feminist Studies, vol. 20, pp. 272 - 273
    • McMahon EN, 2004, 'The Sculpture of Donna Marcus', Art Monthly Australia, vol. No. 168, pp. 29 - 31

    Conference Papers

    • McMahon EN, 2008, 'Longing in Belonging: Emily Dickinson`s Poetics of Distance', in New Directions, English Association Sydney, University of Sydney, presented at English Association English Teacher's Conference 2008, University of Sydney, 28 May 2008


    • McMahon EN, 2015, Introduction to Elemental, Brandl and Schlesinger for the English Association, Blackheath NSW
    • McMahon EN, 2015, Southerly 75.1: Elemental, Brandl and Schlesinger for the English Association, Blackheath NSW
    • McMahon EN; Ashcroft. Bill; Anwar; Bishop; Cummins, 2014, Southerly 74.1 Forward Thinking: Utopia and Apocalypse, Brandl and Schlesinger for the English Association, Blackheath NSW,

    Edited Books

    • 2016, Southerly 75.2, Brands and Schlesinger for the English Association, Blackheath


Elizabeth teaches Australian literature, women's writing and contemporary critical and cultural theory.

She has supervised ten PhD theses to successful completion and is currently supervising five PhD theses. In 2011 she received a Dean's Award for Learning and Teaching for Postgraduate Supervision.

Successful completions

• Joseph Cummins, The Space and Time of Imagined Sound: Australian Literature and Music, 1945 to Present (joint with John Napier) UNSW 2016

• Naomi Riddle, Anderson, Harrower, Hazzard: The Interiority of Modernity (joint with Brigitta Olubas) UNSW 2015

• Laura Joseph, Brimstone Flowers: Towards and Antipodean Poetics of Space, UNSW 2011.

• Kate Mason, Paradoxes and substitutions: charting patterns in the American novels of 9/11, UNSW 2010

• Heather Moritz, "You are will to power and nothing besides": Nietzsche, Foucault, Yoga, and Feminist s/Self-Actualisation, UNSW 2010

• Helen O’Reilly, Time and Memory in the Novels of Eleanor Dark, UNSW 2009

• Sandra Knowles, The Performances of a Psychic Privacy: Waiting for the Real Miles Franklin, UNSW 2007

• Diana Jenkins, Don DeLillo’s Promiscuous Fictions: the Adulterous Triangle of Sex, Space, and Language, UNSW 2005

• Marita Bullock, Timely Figurations: The Metaphorics of Trash in Four Recent Australian Artists' work UNSW 2004 (joint with Dr Brigitta Olubas)

• Angela Rockel ReFraming: Transformations of Subjectivity through Writing, UTAS 2000

Current PhD supervisions
• Jaimee Edwards, Shame and the Representation of Australian Vietnam Veterans
• Joseph Cummins, Australia’s Musical Landscapes (joint with Dr John Napier Music)
• Gabrielle Dixon-Ritchie, Ecocriticism and Postmodernism

Honours and prizes


FASS Dean's award for postgraduate supervision 2011

Teaching Merit Award, University of Tasmania 2000.

Professional contribution

Editorial roles

Since 2008 Elizabeth has co-edited Southerly, Australia's oldest literary journal. Southerly includes peer-reviewed scholarly essays, new creative fiction and poetry, and is funded by the Australia Council for the Arts and the NSW Ministry for the Arts. Issues edited by Elizabeth include :

  • The Sister Arts, 68.2 (2008) 248 pp.
  • Southerly at Seventy, 69.3 (2009) 252 pp.
  • Romance, 70.2 (2010) 224 pp.
  • Modern Mobilities, 71.1 (2011) 256 pp.
  • Mid-century Women Writers 72.1 (2011)
  • Islands and Archipelagos 72.3 (2012)
  • Forward Thinking: Utopia and Apocalypse 74.1 (2013)
  • Elemental 75.1 (2014)
  • Naked Writer 2 75.2 (2015)
  • War and Peace 75.3  (2015) co-edited with David Brooks
  • Words and Music  76.1 (2016) co-edited with Hannah Fink

From 1997-2007 Elizabeth edited Australian Humanities Review, an AVCC-funded initiative to take Australian debate in the humanities online and showcase research to an international readership.

Elizabeth co-edits a book series titled Rethinking the Island for Rowman and Littlefield International, 

 Elizabeth served on the exective of the Assoication for the Study of Australian Litertaure for 6 years, with 2 years as President. 

Affiliations and membership

Elizabeth is s member of the Australian Association of rhe Study of Australian Litertaure

She is on the editorial board of Studies in Australian Cinema and on he aEditorial Advisory Committee for the Journal of the Assoication for the Study of Ausralian Literature

Elizabeth was an elected memebr of UNSW Council from 2010-2012. 

Other information

In 2009 Elizabeth received an ARC Discovery grant for her project Australia, Our Island Home.

From 2009 -20154 she was a Chief Investigator on the AUSTLIT project, an ARC LIEF project.

 Elizabeth is the Deputy Head of School, Learning and Teaching in the School of Arts and Media.