The Centre for Critical Studies was incorporated in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in August 2015.

The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.

Below is an archive of CCCS Public Lectures delivered in 2000, along with their original abstracts. For further information on any of these lectures, please contact CCCS Admin.


Associate Professor Anne Freadman: 'The Green Tarpaulin: Telling the Story of the Ryan Hanging', 30 March 2000

Associate Professor Freadman's talk examines the history and the significance of the hanging of Ronald Ryan on February 3, 1967. A highly contentious, even shameful, episode in Australian history, the story of Ryan's hanging reveals sharp contradictions in Australia's legal, political and social processes. Drawing on original research, Anne Freadman investigates the wealth of stories that have accumulated around this moment in Australian history. Her research not only illuminates the cultural context of the Ryan hanging and its continuing currency in our national stories, but also contemporary preoccupations which go to the heart of complex, and continuing, legal and political issues.


Professor Philip Almond: 'Is "Religion" a Good Idea? Religious Pluralism in the 21st Century', 20 April 2000

In this lecture, Philip Almond examines the notion that the single most pressing problem facing religion in the new millennium is that of religious pluralism.  Religions form a crucial part of the ideologies which reinforce modern nationalisms and ethnic and cultural identities.  Conflict within and between religions will remain a feature of the religious contemporary scene as we move into the new Millennium.     

Today we in the West know more about religions ? about Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and the religions of tribal peoples than ever before.  Religious life in the West is now lived in the context of religious pluralism.

This paper examines Western understanding of the world's religions particularly since the 17th century Enlightenment.  It argues that the problem of religious pluralism needs to be seen in the light both of the Enlightenment "naturalising" of religions and 19th century colonialism and imperialism.  It attempts to open up possibilities of inter-religious understanding which may mitigate the problems inherent in a religiously plural world. 


Associate Professor Margaret Maynard: 'The Dress that Saved Sydney: Australian Fashion and the Global Arena', 18 May 2000

Journalist Marion Hume's rapturous pronouncement about Akira Isogawa's success at the 1999 Mercedes Fashion Week marked a supposed turn in the fortunes of Australia's fashion industry. Apparently all it took was 17 minutes on the catwalk, a few lengths of Australian cotton, some printing done in Sydney, some Melbourne zigzag machine embroidery and a few glass beads.

What does it take to be a successful Australian fashion designer today? This talk centres on recent style tactics in Australian fashion. It claims these shifts as evidence of important changes in the nature of consumption, and are ways our culture is positioning itself to accommodate the global marketplace. Formerly predicated on self-conscious appropriation of vernacular and indigenous motifs, style pluralism has now replaced "inspiration". International "similarity" has displaced identity. This lecture explores some of the dramatic turns of fortune in Australian fashion and shows why style makers these days decline to assert their unmistakable Australianness!


Dr Lynne Hume: 'Do Spirits Exist? Exploring Altered States of Consciousness and Anomalous Experiences', 20 July 2000

hat is actually happening when individuals claim to have encounters with spirits, guides, or other entities, or extraordinary experiences? Are such people gifted or unstable?

Dr. Hume's lecture presents an account of current research into extraordinary experiences and altered states of consciousness through an examination of a range of anecdotal experiences. Using Foucault's notion of subjugated knowledges, and Laughlin, McManus and d'Aquili's discussions of monophasic and polyphasic consciousness, Dr. Hume investigates Western approaches to 'spirit' and culturally defined concepts of reality. She questions the value of reductionist approaches and explores a variety of explanations that have been put forward to explain individual experiences, from neurophysiological to personally transforming religious interpretations.

Delving into methods for entering altered states such as those used by shamans cross-culturally, Dr. Hume offers a challenging perspective on the question of alternate realities.


Dr Martin Duwell: 'Poetry and the Universities', 24 August 2000

In this lecture Martin Duwell looks at the inter-relationship between poetry in Australia and the institution of the university, an institution which has grown in influence in the study of literature in a culture lacking the counter-institution that a strong tradition of literary journalism might provide. He considers the changes that have occurred in the last thirty five years, producing a picture which, at the turn of the millennium, is not a comforting one in Australia and is particularly bleak in Queensland where a decreasing number of matriculating students have any serious, pre-academic exposure to poetry.

The lecture considers a number of questions, principally with reference to contemporary poetry. Are poetries and universities essentially antagonistic? What are the things a university does to a poetry? Is there an essential response to poetry that academic study shies away from? Since contemporary poets more and more find at least temporary homes in universities, does this affect what they write? What contributions can a university make to contemporary poetry that are undeniably valuable?


Dr Robert Cribb: 'Are Political Killings Genocide?', 12 October 2000

When the United Nations decreed in 1944 that genocide was a crime against humanity, it used a definition that included mass killings for political reasons. For several reasons, the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide dropped political killings, but the events of the second half of the twentieth century suggest we should put them back.  A sharp distinction between ethnic and political killings once made sense, but a close study of the mass killings in China, Indonesia,
Cambodia and Rwanda in the second half of the 20th century shows that political and ethnic killings can be almost impossible to distinguish. 

Accepting this change of definition, however, has some challenging and perhaps unpleasant implications. Not only do we have to pay more careful attention to counting the number of dead, but we need to consider whether the victims share complicity in the events that consumed them.