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The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.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 2008, along with their original abstracts. Audio files are provided for lectures that were recorded. For further information on any of these lectures, please contact CCCS Admin.


Professor Charlotte Brunsdon: 'Shaping the Cinematic City: Three London Journeys', 19 February 2008

The topic of the cinematic city, or ‘cinema and the city’, has attracted increasing attention in recent years. Many scholars have explored ideas of the cinema and modernity, the spectacle of the city and the figure of the flâneur. This paper moves away from these general questions of the cinema and the city to ask about the attractions and difficulties of considering the cinema and a particular city, in this case, London. With illustrations from a wide range of films, I will explore the extent to which we can usefully think about this cinematic city through the journeys that are made to and within it. I am interested in the extent to which ‘the arrival in the city’ or ‘crossing the River’ can be used as structuring devices to understand not just the cinematic geographies of particular films, but something of the history of London as a cinematic city as it comes to terms with the end of empire.


Dr Rex Butler: 'A Short History of UnAustralian Art', 13 March 2008

Undoubtedly, a history of UnAustralian art would be self-contradictory. It would remain of interest only insofar as it was Australian, and yet it would challenge the idea of what it is to be Australian. Nevertheless, it is true that we always write history from the present; and the existing histories of Australian art do not at all speak to our current situation of internationalism, globalism, cosmopolitanism, the generations of young artists who do not identify with or seek to make work out of our national tradition.

Can a history of “UnAustralian” art – a history not organised around the final revelation of a national character – be written? Which artists would it include, and what story would it tell? Dr Butler will offer an overview of the project A History of UnAustralian Art, with special emphasis on the period 1920-40, which is characterised by the decision for artists of whether to “stay”, “go” or “come”, that is, to remain in Australia, emigrate or immigrate to Australia.


Professor Rodney Tiffen: 'The Spin We're In: Media and Democracy in Post-Howard Australia', 22 May 2008

In several important ways Australian democracy was in a worse state at the end of the Howard era than at the beginning. Such judgments are always problematic, and Australian democracy is more vibrant and resilient than critics of government action sometimes think. If we focus exclusively for example on the way that the Freedom of Information Act has been eroded or implemented in ways that undermine its purposes, then we may lose sight of the larger countervailing social forces moving in the direction of greater disclosure. Nevertheless the concentration of executive power and the use of public resources and institutions for partisan advantage both became considerably worse during the eleven and a half years of the coalition government. In particular the larger dimensions of the spin enterprise and efforts at the control of and shaping of information and of manipulating the media all became even more pronounced. 
This lecture considers some of the trends undermining Australian democracy during the Howard era especially as they relate to the news media, and also speculates about which of them will continue to get worse whatever the colour of the government, and which are particular to the government just defeated.

Introduction: Professor Graeme Turner [1.1 mb]
Introduction: Professor Tom O'Regan [2.6 mb]
Lecture Part One [5.6 mb]
Lecture Part Two [6.9 mb]
Lecture Part Three [7.1 mb]
Lecture Part Four [6.2 mb]

Professor Meaghan Morris: 'Twenty Years of ‘Banality in Cultural Studies’: A Research Problem', 21 August 2008
In 1988 Prof Morris published the short version of an essay, ‘Banality in Cultural Studies’ and signed a contract for a book with that title. Unfortunately, the essay soon became the bane of her life for being widely but selectively quoted by people who read it approvingly as an attack on the banality of Cultural Studies, and thence of the new humanities more widely. The terms of that polemic have not changed greatly in the intervening years, but Prof Morris’ attitude to Cultural Studies and new humanities education has been transformed by her experience of working in the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies network while institution-building in Hong Kong. In this talk, Prof Morris reflects on the issues that arise for her now as she contemplates writing that book. 

Associate Professor Chris Dixon: 'The West Wing is not a Documentary: Reflections on Cultural Politics in Contemporary America', 18 September 2008
In the twilight of the muddle-headed Bush Presidency, this lecture will explore the complex interplay between race, gender, and politics that has characterized the most contentious Presidential election since 1968. Just as that election was played out against the backdrop of a failing war, so too has the 2008 election been conducted amidst ongoing national anguish about a conflict that has exposed the limits of American power.
Professor Tom O'Regan: 'Learning from the Gold Coast', 16 October 2008
Learning from Las Vegas created a controversy when it was first published in 1972 as Venturi and his collaborators 'sought meaning in a place that the intelligentsia had scorned'--hotel-casinos, parking lots, and enormous flashing signs. Venturi reckoned that this was ‘a new but perfectly legitimate aesthetic, one that we had all better study to be ready for the future'. In this lecture,  Prof O'Regan wants to ask in the spirit of Venturi what the Gold Coast can tell us about what is happening to cinema and television production, particularly but not exclusively, those forms of film and television that are born global. He also will endeavour to show how the Gold Coast--like its counterparts in Wilmington (USA) and Vancouver (Canada)--has developed from a greenfields site without any production to becoming a “media city” with a range of infrastructures and people such that it serves not only as a location for productions but as a base for productions shot elsewhere. Learning from the Gold Coast means revising how we think about a film and television production milieu and what is needed to sustain film and television production in a place in contemporary globalising circumstances.