Political Animals: Engagements with Imperial and Gender Discourses in Late-Colonial Australian Circuses


By referring to several wild animal acts presented in Australia in the 1890s at the high-status circuses of Frank Fillis and the FitzGerald Brothers, this essay explores the complex cultural interactions that occurred in the relationship between these major circuses and their late-colonial public. The author matches the circus’s wild animal act to nation-building tropes and examines the narratives of identity, patriotism, allegiance, and power that were articulated through these popular and unusual performances.