The Construction of an Australian Saint

Sheila McCreanor


The paper is part of a larger PhD study entitled Sainthood in Australia - Mary MacKillop and the Print Media. The beatification of Mary MacKillop by Pope John Paul II in 1995 was a significant event in Australian history. This event led many reporters in the popular press to write about saints. This paper focuses on political cartoons featuring Mary MacKillop as examples of media texts to be analysed. Using a framework based on sociology of knowledge and critical discourse analysis from the work of Norman Fairclough, the study looks at various levels of sociocultural practice. The dialectical relationship between media texts and society/culture is examined: media texts are seen to both reflect and contribute to changing cultural values and identities. The result is an example of what Mannheim terms sociological change of function: the construction of an Australian version of a saint.

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