Heartlands : young love and sex in modern Australia

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Romantic love, philosopher Viktor Frankl (1963) believes, is the ultimate and highest goal to which we can aspire – one of life’s most desirable, meaningful, transformative, and transcendent experiences. Yet in Australia, much public discourse shies away from deeper discussions about love and the diverse and rapidly evolving ways love and sex are practised. 𝘏𝘦𝘒𝘳𝘡𝘭𝘒𝘯π˜₯𝘴 is a manuscript of creative non-fiction that addresses this gap. Using a narrative enquiry approach, and drawing on more than 70 long-form interviews with Australian millennials – born between the early 1980s and late 1990s – the work combines case studies, memoir, history, neuroscience, demography, reportage, and travel to paint a picture of modern love and sex, as experienced by today’s young Australians. For the main part, 𝘏𝘦𝘒𝘳𝘡𝘭𝘒𝘯π˜₯𝘴 addresses the experiences and insights of heterosexual, middle-class young people. It also includes voices from Indigenous, ethnic, bisexual and homosexual Australians, interviewed in Darwin, Canberra, Queanbeyan, the NSW Central Coast, and Sydney. The manuscript spans topics including the impact of technology and dating apps on the search for love and sex; the role of alcohol in relationship formation; as well as hook-up culture, expectations, dating practices, and ideas on love and marriage. The project’s second element is an exegesis that calls forth, and attempts to add to, theory relating to the nascent fields of creative non-fiction and constructive journalism. The exegesis concludes by asserting that Australian millennial experiences of love and sex are substantially different from those of previous generations, owing to the present era’s unique cultural climate – one that is mediated via new technology and dominated by ideas about β€˜perfect’ love, sex, and chemistry, and the capacity of these three elements to provide deep personal fulfilment.
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