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The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.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 Seminars delivered in 2004, along with their original abstracts. For further information on any of these seminars, please contact CCCS Admin.


Professor Tom O'Regan: 'Hollywood, Location and Globally Dispersed Production', 20 May 2004

As at February 2004, eight of the worldwide top 10 highest grossing films of all time were largely or completely shot outside mainland USA, although most returned to California for post-production. Titanic was shot at Fox Baja Studios, Mexico; The Lord of the Rings trilogy was shot in New Zealand; the two Harry Potter films Chamber of Secrets and Sorcerer's Stone and Star Wars: the Phantom Menace were shot in a London studio; Jurassic Park in Hawaii. Only Finding Nemo and Independence Day (numbers 9 and 10 on the list) were largely or completely made in mainland USA. Whatever the value of such a list, it nonetheless draws our attention to the way that globally dispersed production has become an intrinsic and routine feature of the contemporary Hollywood blockbuster.

In this presentation, based on recently completed work with Ben Goldsmith, I will anchor this global dispersal to three inter-related factors: the project-based system of production which has allowed diverse inputs from a globally-defined industry; the number of locations which are now able to provide the package of studios, other facilities, services, and natural and built environments necessary for blockbuster production; and the combination of the design interest of the Hollywood majors in developing projects with the location interest of places in securing projects. We now have inter-related dynamics of global geographical dispersal at the level of the production shoot and concentration in Los Angeles at the level of production design (and, to a great extent, post-production). Indeed the central problem facing the Hollywood majors, independent producers and the various facilities, film commissions and film service providers located around the world is to transform one-off, itinerant blockbuster projects into something more permanent through developing or securing a portfolio of projects. Here design and location interests coincide in a mutual aim to transform "episodic project collaboration" into "more enduring project networks".

This research is part of a larger study undertaken with Ben Goldsmith to chart the role of the film studio complex in international film and television production. So far the principal outcome of this collaboration is the report on international trends in studio development Cinema Cities/Media Cities for the Australian Film Commission. Together we are working on a book entitled "The Film Studio" for an American publisher.


Professor Tony Bennett: 'Civic Laboratories: Museums/the Fabrication of Cultural Objects/Self-Governance', 14 July 2004

My purpose in this lecture is to explore the value of thinking of museums as civic laboratories, that is, as places where civic experiments are conducted by means of the relations between people and objects that museum arrangements effect and the forms of self-governance that such relations makes possible. In doing so, however, I also want to draw on the role that the study of laboratory practices has played in the related fields of science studies and actor network theory. I shall be especially concerned here with the stress such work placed on the need to study the relations between human and non-human actors in order to understand the processes through which new scientific objects are fabricated. This affords, when applied to museums, a means of understanding their role in the fabrication of distinctive cultural objects whose specificity consists in the particular kinds of work on the self they make possible. By outlining the respects in which such concerns might be integrated with those of governmentality theory, I shall also outline the respects in which an adequate theoretical engagement with the rebirth of the museum needs to depart from the perspectives outlined in my earlier study The Birth of the Museum.


Dr Juliana de Nooy: 'The Insistent Retelling of Twin Tales', 23 September 2004

Stories of twins are told and retold with astonishing frequency in contemporary novels and films: tales of the stranglehold of brotherly love, the evil twin who steals her sister's lover, the homicidal mutant twin on a rampage, the reunion of twins separated at birth, confusion between look-alike twins, etc.

Critics tend to view twin tales as a subset of the literature of the double, in decline since the nineteenth century. A closer look at recent examples, however, reveals patterns of genre and gender quite specific to our time. Why do we keep telling twin tales? and why might we want to tell them differently? The seminar analyses some contemporary story-telling conventions and what is at stake in attempts to shift them.


Dr Mandy Thomas: 'Doing Cross-Cultural Research', 24 September 2004

Mandy will talk about the key trends in cross-cultural research which involve, among other things, more varied forms of research dissemination including film, performance and exhibitions. Changing postgraduate interests are driving these changes as are the demands of the public and cultural institutions. Mandy will reflect on these changes using her own research experiences in Asian Studies and in the anthropology of migration.

Dr Graham St John: 'Off Road Show: 'Feral Theatre' in the Outback', 21 October 2004

A noughties version of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters meets a Russian Revolution propaganda train meets Priscilla, Queen of the Desert!' This incisive observation was inspired by the fin de siècle Central Australian exploits of Sydney's Ohms not Bombs sound system. Sound systems are hybrid productions; influenced by diverse sonic and cultural movements; from Jamaican Dancehall, to hip hop, reggae and techno. From the mid 1990s, these travelling multi-media circuses emerged in Europe throwing parties and performing international ‘cultural work'. Influencing an Australian youth cohort, from the late 1990s, the ‘techno-circus' model would become implicated in efforts to provide assistance to remote Aboriginal communities battling the uranium industry. In response to ecological and indigenous cultural crises, sound systems were travelling to, and raising spectacles in, the continent's desert interior.

While the journey outback holds a special legacy for settler Australians, the contemporary trek appeared to be the product of nascent sensitivities which saw compassionate youth responding to a ‘calling' to country. Demonstrating recognition of the authority of indigenous custodians, these post-settler journeys amounted to the creative resistance Ohms not Bombs founder Peter Strong had anticipated as a momentous ‘groovement'. Using images, video documentary sources and drawing upon ethnographic research, I will explore the unique conflation of art and politics evident in the work of multi-media artists like the irrepressible Strong; in local sound systems whose performances, festivals and activist theatre are implicated in a struggle towards legitimacy; and in intimate and tactical media aesthetics deployed as a means to belonging in a postcolonising nation.


Professor Meaghan Morris and Professor Graeme Turner: 'Meaghan Morris in conversation with Graeme Turner', 9 November 2004

When the distinguished Australian cultural studies writer Meaghan Morris left Australia to take up a position in Hong Kong it generated a full page feature on the brain drain in The Australian newspaper. Four years later, she is back in Australia on study leave with some rich experiences to share on what cultural studies is in Asia, on her experiences teaching cultural studies to students from non-Western backgrounds, and the view from outside Australia on the state of cultural studies here. In conversation with Graeme Turner, first, and then in response to questions from the audience, Meaghan will deal with a wide range of topics relating to her recent experiences and her own work.