What is it about?

The ‘gentlemen of the flashing blade’ laboured in an occupation that no longer exists in Australia: canecutting. It was a hard job done by hard men, and its iconic figure – the canecutter – survives as a Queensland legend, yet it may seem like the only canecutters immortalized in the arts are Summer of the Seventeenth Doll’s Roo and Barney. This article reviews a selection of novels, memoirs, plays, short stories, cartoons, verse, song, film, television, radio and children’s books that address the racial, cultural and industrial politics of the sugar industry and its influence on the economic and social development of Queensland.

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Why is it important?

These reviewed works depict, and celebrate, a colourful, often brutal, part of Queensland’s past and an Australian icon comparable with the swaggie or the shearer. They have not been collectively identified as 'canecutter narratives' before, so this article uniquely identifies and reviews them as a subgenre in the context of historical Australian popular culture.

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This page is a summary of: The legend of the ‘gentlemen of the flashing blade’: The canecutter in the Australian imagination, Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, December 2022, Intellect,
DOI: 10.1386/ajpc_00050_1.
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