Claflin University Professor’s Latest Book Reaches No. 1

Jul 08, 2015

Belinda Wheeler holding her BookDr. Belinda Wheeler, an assistant professor of English in Claflin University’s Department of English and Foreign Languages recently learned that her latest book, A Companion to Australian Aboriginal Literature (hard cover edition), reached the No. 1 position on's bestseller list for the category "Australian and Oceania Literary Criticism." Less than a week later, Dr. Wheeler also received word that the paperback edition of her book, which won’t be released until August 1, is listed as a No. 1 new release on and it is already number No. 3 on's bestseller list for the same category (Australian and Oceania Literary Criticism).

“There has been great interest in the book since its August 2013 release and the fact that both the hardcover edition and the paperback edition – even in its pre-release status – are doing so well is a testament to the growing interest in Australian Aboriginal Literature,” Wheeler said.

The book is the first of its kind. “Until the release of this book there was no companion to contextualize Australian Aboriginal ‘literature’ for a worldwide audience. If anyone, a general reader, university student, or a scholar wanted a guide to help them understand the depth and breadth of Australian Aboriginal literature, they had no resource readily available to them.”

The companion includes eleven chapters on different types of literature from novels, poems, and plays, to music and film written by leading scholars in the field.

“Since the book’s release there have been several universities and colleges in Australia, Europe, and the U.S. that have adopted the books for their classroom, but I know several other institutions that plan to add the paperback edition to their reading lists,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler’s interest in Australian Aboriginal literature does not end with this book. “I have almost finished my follow-up book, A Companion to the Works of Kim Scott. That book has an early 2016 release date,” announced Wheeler. “A third book is also in the works, A Companion to the Works of Alexis Wright. That book will likely be released in late 2016.”

 “I am excited about all these books because they are the first companions written about Australian Aboriginal literature, generally, and the first companions devoted to Kim Scott and Alexis Wright - two of the biggest names in contemporary Australian Aboriginal literature,” Wheeler said. “There is a large national and international audience who want to learn more about Australian Aboriginal literature and these books are just one useful way that a worldwide audience can learn more.”

Claflin University students and faculty, as well as guests to the university have already had the opportunity to learn about Wheeler’s interest in Australian Aboriginal Literature. In April, Wheeler and award-winning Australian Aboriginal author Jeanine Leane held two sessions with students and members of the local community about Australian Aboriginal literature and culture. Earlier this month, Wheeler led one of the UNCF/Mellon Faculty Teaching and Learning Institute seminars on Australian Aboriginal and New Zealand Māori literature.

Wheeler’s book is available on and other booksellers. For more information, contact Dr. Belinda Wheeler at (803) 535-5717 or email to

About Dr. Wheeler

Dr. Belinda Wheeler is a junior faculty member (Assistant Professor of English) in the Department of English and Foreign Languages at Claflin University having joined the Claflin family in fall 2014. She was a lead facilitator for Paine College’s UNCF/Mellon Teaching and Learning Institute, entitled “Expanding the Harlem Renaissance’s Relevance across the HBCU Curriculum.” She is also the recipient of several other grants sponsored by NEH, NYU, and Claflin. Wheeler is the editor of A Companion to Australian Aboriginal Literature (2013) and she is currently completing a second book on Australian Aboriginal literature, A Companion to the Works of Kim Scott (under contract), and Gwendolyn Bennett: The Harlem Renaissance's Quintessential Poet, Artist, Editor, and Columnist (under contract). Her articles include “The Aboriginal Novel” (co-authored with Peter Minter, forthcoming, Oxford UP) and “Gwendolyn Bennett’s ‘The Ebony Flute’” (PMLA, 2013). Wheeler’s research interests include Australian Aboriginal literature, African American literature, 20th century American literature, and print culture. Wheeler teaches a range of classes at Claflin including postcolonial literature, intro to English studies, American literature, British literature, and freshman composition.

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