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The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.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 2002, along with their original abstracts. For further information on any of these lectures, please contact CCCS Admin.

 

Professor Robyn Williams: 'The End of Television: Or Where to Put Your Digital', 13 March 2002

In this lecture, Professor Williams will reflect on how well the Australian public is being served by its media. Now that we can have instant communication with friends on Mars via an instrument worn in one's nostril are we any better informed about what is actually going on? Does the ratio between journalists and PR persons in communication indicate that spin is winning? Now the ABC is 70 should it be pensioned off?

 

Professor Kam Louie: 'Globalising Chinese Masculinity', 18 April 2002

Professor Louie will present the key findings of his new book Theorising Chinese Masculinity. While there is a vast Eurocentric scholarship on gender and sexuality, there has been little work on masculinity and the formation of male ideals in a Chinese context. He uses the concepts of wen (cultural attainment) and wu (martial valour) to explain how masculinity is constructed in China. He will trace the trajectories of these concepts in the twentieth century by analysing the transformations undergone by traditional icons such as Confucius (the wen god) and Guan Yu (the wu god), as well as contemporary images such as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Though necessarily simplified, his work presents a picture of contemporary masculinities in China and the Chinese diaspora as a projection of new, globalized constructions of manhood.

 

Professor Philip Bracanin: 'Unlocking the Mystery: How Words Become Music', 6 June 2002

Professor Bracanin will present the background circumstances and the creative challenges involved in the composition of his Choral Symphony. Whilst there are a vast number of symphonies, the choral symphony is a rare addition to this genre, made so by the extra demands of combining the evolutionary development of both textual and musical statements. Professor Bracanin will talk about the genesis of his musical ideas for this work.

In particular, he will explain the ways in which Judith Wright's poem texts from "The Moving Image" and "The Harp and the King" fed into the creation of his musical images in general, and more especially in the setting of the vocal parts within an orchestral context.

"My Choral Symphony is a meditation on Time, for which I chose to set texts by Judith Wright (excerpts from "The Moving Image" and "The Harp and the King"), and W.H. Auden ("Our Bias")" explains Professor Bracanin. "In the first movement the poetry tells of one's changing attitude to time from childhood to adulthood, including coping with the tyranny of time. The second movement, while not based on a text, is programmatic and signifies a 'waltz through time'. In the third movement we are reminded that time is forgiving and brings joy. The fourth, and final movement, celebrates the passing of the seasons and praises time as that which drives us to experience change and to find our own fulfilment".

Because music is a temporal art, the creation and extension of musical ideas in relation to the passing of time, as both a psychological and ontological phenomenon, is fundamental. The setting of texts adds another variable into the composition equation and challenges the composer to create a convincing mapping from word image to sound image. In his paper, Professor Bracanin will talk about this challenge, particularly how he has attempted to meet it in relation to the setting of the texts. In text setting the inevitable thorny questions raise their head: does the musical setting enhance the text or detract from it, and in this context, are the two art forms complementary or do they co-exist, but in different dimensions?

 

Professor Sue Rider: 'From Sandy Gallop to The Belles of St Mary's: Community Theatre as a Tool for Exploring Social History', 15 August 2002

In her lecture, Professor Rider takes two community theatre projects and asks the question, 'Does theatre distort history or can it give a new appreciation of the past?'

The University of Queensland Ipswich campus ('Sandy Gallop') has a varied history as a racetrack, a hospital for people with mental illness, a residence for people with intellectual disabilities and an educational institution. In September 2001, 80 young people presented a community performance after researching the history of the site. The result, Sandy Gallop Dances with the Moon, was not a historical re-enactment, nor a chronology of events. Instead, it followed an imaginary character on a quest for self-knowledge in a roving performance around the site.
 
In 1863, St Mary's College, Ipswich, was founded by Mother Vincent Whitty as the second Sisters of Mercy school in Queensland. In 2002, Year 12 students are investigating historical records, interviewing past staff and pupils and gathering photographs and artefacts in order to write scripts in response to the material gathered. In August, they will present a performance, The Belles of St Mary's, using theatre as the form to draw together their individual responses.

In both cases the young people involved have followed their own interests in researching and interpreting past events.

Are such presentations a distortion of history? When does interpretation become invention? Does the creative imagination have the right to select from historical material to the point of fabrication? Can contemporary theatre give a new appreciation of the past?

 

Dr Christy Collis: '"Would you like Ice with That?" Australia's Antarctic Empire', 19 September 2002

Christy's cultural geography research has always been on spaces considered as "empty": she has published work on the restoration of Sir Douglas Mawson's Antarctic Hut, Canadian women's Arctic writing, popular representations of the 1848 disappearance of Sir John Franklin in the Canadian Arctic, Australian 4WD culture, the 1997 Spirit of Australia South Pole expedition, and Australia's first private Antarctican colonists Don and Margie McIntyre. In 2000, she worked as the online expert for the Victorian Department of Education's website covering the year spent in Antarctica by Yvonne and Jim Claypole, and in 2001 she was one of the convenors of the "Australians in Antarctica" forum at the National Museum, Canberra.

Since 1933, Australia has laid claim to forty-two percent of another continent: Antarctica. As Antarctica becomes ever more accessible to humans, Australia's massive sovereignty claim has come under question. This lecture is an examination of how contemporary Australian perceptions and popular representations of Antarctica play a part in Australia's increasingly assertive claim to nearly half the continent. It is time to stop imagining Antarctica as an empty "continent of peace and science" of interest only to penguins and scientists: it is time to examine Australian Antarctica as a complex, and contested, cultural space.


Dr Richard Hindmarsh: 'Marginalising Public Debate on Genetic Engineering: An Historical Overview', 17 October 2002

An intense debate exists globally about the grand attempt of genetic engineers to 'choreograph' nature. Though said to promise much, the endeavour of creating novel organisms has also ushered in a host of profound issues, including: the desirability of genetically-modified (GM) foods and crops; labelling of GM foods, consumer choice and 'right' to know; the ideology of modern science and progress; the epistemology of modern science to offer viable solutions for long term sustainable futures, especially in the face of complexity and high uncertainty about the workings of ecological systems; the usefulness of techno-fix approaches; the wide scale environmental release of genetically engineered crops and a continuation of monoculture agriculture as well as so-called 'genetic pollution' emerging; gene therapy and the domination of the biomedical model; designer babies and neo-eugenics; scientific and social responsibility; monopoly control by 'life sciences' conglomerates over directions of health care and agri-food production, especially through intellectual property ownership of genetic material; the desirability of genetic engineering vis-à-vis other modes of production such as conventional, agroecology or organicist ones; the patenting of 'life'; and so forth. Because of the scope and depth of these issues, which remain unresolved, a vast oppositional movement representing a diverse range of interests now exists worldwide to contest the proponents' 'recoding' of nature for a proposed bio-utopia.

Yet another issue underscores this problematic, and that is the convergence of culture and science, such that both open and well-balanced scientific and public debates have been hindered since controversy began soon after the emergence of the recombinant-DNA technique in 1973.

Here, science stepped out of the lab to translate genetic engineering as a cultural image with popular representations of meaning. In so doing, the 'authority' of science was transformed into a form of theatre, a theatre of representation. In a period of economic reorientation, the industry and the state soon joined bioscientists on the stage to cast genetic engineering as an innovative technology of globalisation. Throughout the play, benevolent and bio-utopian narratives and images of genetic engineering have dominated. Other important messages from technology change and innovation theorists, from development researchers, from critics of genetic engineering, and from the public have been ignored, trivialised or downplayed, even as they concretely emerge to confront GM developers.

This paper provides a synopsis of that history and argues that the cast and stage play of genetics needs revamping. This is needed to empower a diverse range of viewpoints about (bio)technological change that can generate approaches and solutions that appeal to the broader audience of societal interests. Better environmental and social outcomes are envisaged.