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The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.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 2006, along with their original abstracts. For further information on any of these lectures, please contact CCCS Admin.


Professor Richard Fotheringham: 'Staging the Nation-to-be: Australian Plays for the Colonial Stage', 18 March 2006

Between 1834, when the first surviving Australian play was staged, and 1930, when the world financial depression and Hollywood movies combined to destroy the live theatre industry, thousands of locally-written plays were performed, many of them commercially. In Professor Fortheringham's new book, nine plays from the colonial period have been selected, edited and presented with extensive explanatory notes, including the music used. In this lecture he will describe some of the plays, tell something of the quest to locate and recover them, and also speculate about how the neglect of Australian cultural history has led us to make very different assumptions about what colonial society was like, and about what might be possible in structuring our performing arts today.


Dr Jane Roscoe: 'Making Great Television: When Theory Met Practice', 18 May 2006

Drawing on her own experience at SBS TV, Dr Roscoe will discuss the constantly changing face of public broadcasting and the challenges that lie ahead. In particular, she will focus on the ways in which her own work as a television scholar has shaped and supported her role in creatively shaping the SBS schedule. In doing so it will be apparent that when theory meets practice there can be innovation and excitement, as well as clashes and disappointments. Can theory and practice work together to enliven and promote television culture in Australia?


Professor Georgina Born: 'Public Service Broadcasting: The Last Decade and the Future: Lessons from the BBC and the UK', 27 July 2006

The BBC appears poised to emerge fighting fit from a decade of the most challenging transformations since its birth in the 1920s. Under the impact of neo-liberal economic reforms, it has taken an unprecedentedly commercial direction and has undergone profound organisational changes including the growth of powerful strategy, marketing and market research wings. It has responded to the advent of digital media by embracing a range of digital activities. It survived in the early 2000s the most bruising clash with Government in its history. And it is now in the final stages of the most demanding ever 10-yearly review of its Royal Charter, one in which it has been dancing to the twin tunes of Government and Ofcom, Britain’s new telecommunications and media super-regulator. One critical outcome is an overdue reform of the BBC’s governance and self-regulation, proposals that augur an increasingly democratic orientation while revealing ambivalence over the creation of more representative foundations. Of concern in going forward are four developments that evidence the BBC’s continuing subordination to political dictats: the proposal that it should carry the major risks entailed in moving Britain to digital TV; the injunction that it should severely cut its television production, the only non-commercial source of production in the UK; the proposal to implement performance measures for the quality of BBC services; and Ofcom’s coining of a ‘market failure’ definition of public service broadcasting centred on elevating genres undersupplied by commerce – a definition that ignores the importance of conditions that foster inventive and risk-taking television and radio. In this lecture I outline this history, and attempt to read the ‘tea leaves’. How will the BBC fare in the future, given the unending crusades by its commercial and political antagonists against its existence, and the rising stakes for Britain’s pluralist democracy in an era of continuing media expansion?


Professor Ian Hunter: 'Learning to Tolerate Heretics: Christian Thomasius and the Secularisation of the Confessional State', 14 September 2006

From the Danish cartoons controversy to the Treasurer’s comments on the priority of civil over religious law, the question of the political governance of religion has returned to the centre of modern politics in a manner that few would have predicted ten years ago. After a series of protracted and murderous religious wars in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, European states gradually achieved religious peace during the eighteenth, although this was by no means complete as could be seen in Northern Ireland.

How was this relative religious peace achieved? And what lessons can be learned from it regarding today’s resurgence of religiously-inspired violence? In discussing these questions, Ian Hunter will draw on his research into the early modern political jurist Christian Thomasius. Little known in English-language contexts, Thomasius is famous in Germany for a series of disputations arguing against heresy and witchcraft trials and in favour of a certain kind of religious toleration. Thomasius’s central lesson is that religious peace depends on the secularisation of the state, which is something quite different from the secularisation of society.


Professor Robert Elson: 'Indonesia: A Biography', 19 October 2006

In the best sense of the adjectives, Indonesia the nation-state is a marvellous, miraculous construction. At first sight, the material for national unity could not be more unpromising; the territory of the present Republic of Indonesia is rent with divisions ranging from the geomorphic (Sahul and Sunda) and the biogeographical (Wallace’s line) to the linguistic and cultural, upon which Dutch colonial authorities, over hundreds of years, imposed their own horizontal and vertical renditions of divide and rule.

But Indonesia, as concept and as nation-state, endures and is, perhaps, beginning once again to thrive. This lecture seeks to discover the origins of the idea of Indonesia in the mid-nineteenth century and to explore its often vexed and troubled trajectory through to the present time, with particular reference to its contingent nature, the various aspirations it has represented, and the contestations it has endured both before and after the proclamation of the Republic of Indonesia in August 1945.