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The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.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


Associate Professor Tara Brabazon: 'Socrates with Earphones: The ipodification of Education', 21 March 2006

Every technological application, hardware invention or software innovation has its marketers and public relations consultants employed to sell its value. While selling flexibility and change, there are few celebrations and advertisements for the small victories in reading, writing and thinking. 

While Australian universities still have chancellery buildings filled with cheerleaders for e-ducation and i-learning, in 2005 Vice Chancellor Diana Green of Sheffield Hallam University revealed the consequences on students for the ipodification of education. She stated that, “Students … have much less structured time, with more learning done via the internet. I think there is more pressure on them because they are still expected to do just as well, even though they are learning many of the subjects by themselves.” That a Vice Chancellor would doom a generation of students to learn ‘by themselves’ in full conscience and awareness, justifying this pedagogy by the affirmation that ‘learning [is] done via the internet,’ has triggered my presentation for the CCCS.

Good teachers – who are not satisfied with students learning ‘by themselves’ or being permitted/ encouraged/ facilitated to miss lectures because they can hear it later on their ipods - must transgress and transform this digital diatribe to aim for higher standards.  Learning is not ‘done’ via the internet. Learning is not ‘done’ through ipod earphones. Learning is not ‘done’ in a classroom. All learning is conducted in a context that constructs a scholarly and structured relationship between information and knowledge. 

The relationship between teachers and students configures a learning environment. No one learns anything ‘by themselves’ or in isolation. The best scholars value the intellectuals that precede them, and demonstrate this scholarly allegiance and inheritance through research and expansive footnotes. We as teachers must not accept the structures imposed by human resource managers and educational administrators who have never taught or ‘choose’ not to teach. The replacement of educational revelation with technological competency is a product of the managerial transformation of universities. In such an environment, the textures and complexities of sound in education have never been more important.

Associate Professor Lisa McLaughlin: 'The Gendered Ties That Bind the "New Global Governance" to the "New Information Economy"', 20 April 2006

As a model of global governance, ‘multi-stakeholderism’ has been reinvented most recently through the proceedings of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), based in the sanguine assumption that a neoliberal context will allow civil society actors to participate on an equal basis with governments, intergovernmental organizations, and corporations in working to overcome the ‘digital divide’.

Assoc Professor McLaughlin will  begin with the WSIS in order to illustrate how approaches to ‘cosmopolitan democracy’, which take as evidence the influence of civil society actors in United Nations-sponsored meetings, tend to become ‘operationalized’ in the form of global neo-corporatist policy concertation among so-called ‘post-industrial groups’ including coalitions of feminists, indigenous persons, and persons from the ‘Global South’. Unlike traditional corporatist schemes in which the state remains the head of the body politic, the private sector has taken on that role today. While the WSIS seemed to have unfolded as a process oriented to creating a Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action, at the same time, numerous public-private partnerships were being forged amongst UN agencies, governments, businesses, and some civil society organizations. Several of these partnerships—and notably those involving Cisco Systems—have taken the form of gender initiatives in ‘least developed countries’. 

Iin this presentation she hopes to establish, both the WSIS multi-stakeholder process and the public-private partnerships made during the event of the summit are fraught with a disturbing lack of transparency and accountability. However, she wishes to move further in order to suggest that there are much stronger ties that bind the ‘new global governance’ to ‘the new information economy’ than is usually thought and that these ties are profoundly gendered. Specifically, Assoc Professor McLaughlin will maintain that the ‘new multi-stakeholderism’ and public-private partnerships work in concert to advance the ‘corporatization’ of international development initiatives. Even more precisely, she maintains that the gender mainstreaming advocated by the UN and various gender-oriented organizations necessitates that summits such as the WSIS actively include gender advocates who adhere to formal, governmental modalities while passively excluding those who actively oppose market-led approaches to development,.  She will link this to an agenda in which women of the Global South are offered the potential for emancipation and mobility through access to technology but instead are apt to become place-based informational labor.


Professor Toby Miller: 'Global Hollywood 2010', 9 May 2006

Why is Hollywood so successful? Overwhelming almost every other national cinema and virtually extinguishing foreign cinema in the multicultural United States, Hollywood seems powerful around the globe. This presentation draws on Professor Miller's influential book Global Hollywood (now in its second edition), to talk about the political economy, cultural studies, and cultural policy analyses that highlight the material factors underlining this apparent artistic success.


Professor Peter Holbrook: 'The Return of Tragedy in Contemporary Cultural Criticism', 15 June 2006

This paper charts what we might think of as the Return of Tragedy in contemporary cultural criticism.  Along the way, it attempts to describe the role and meaning of the tragic voice in three quite distinct twentieth-century cultural critics: T.S. Eliot, George Orwell, and E.M. Cioran.


Professor Georgiana Born: 'Digitising Democracy: Digitisation, Pluralism, and Public Service Communications', 25 July 2006

Professor Born will begin by noting the lamentable absence of due attention to the challenges posed by cultural pluralism and by social and economic inequalities in debates over the future of public service broadcasting in Britain. She will go on to critically outline and assess the prevailing policy discourses in the UK concerning the social and political potential of digital media – notably the internet and digital television – and their relation to public service communications. Professor Born will then compare the policy debates with current academic discussions of digital media in relation to PSC, and find that there are common limitations to both academic and policy discourses, limitations that are highlighted particularly when held up against the BBC’s actual interventions in digital media, a significant proportion of which are subtly conceived and inventive in their design. She will turn to post-Habermasian social philosophers - including Seyla Benhabib, Anne Phillips, James Tully, Iris Marion Young, Nancy Fraser and Bikhu Parekh - who have been engaged in reframing democratic theory in relation to the politics of difference; she will suggest that key principles can be derived from them which provide a means to rethink public service communications in conditions of pluralism and inequality. Finally, on the basis of these normative ideas, Professor  Born will sketch a typology of the several communicative vectors that might be required by a pluralist communicative democracy in light of the expanding range of possibilities offered by digital media. She will argue that new normative thinking of this kind is urgently needed to reinvigorate the ‘institutional design’ of public service communications systems suited to the present.

Dr Margaret Henderson: 'Remembering the Longest Revolution in Australia: Lost Times and Times of Loss in Feminist Cultural Memory', 8 August 2006

Although new social movements, including the women’s movement, are predominantly future oriented, as movements age and their political fortunes change collective memory becomes increasingly important.  This seminar draws upon Dr Henderson's study of a specific type of collective memory, namely, the cultural memory of the Australian women’s movement, 1975-2001.  Cultural memory is “memory institutionalised through cultural means”, and describes the process by which people’s memories are constructed from cultural forms such as novels, histories, museums, films, and monuments (Barbara Misztal 12).  By constructing a set of recurrent stories and images of the past, cultural memory works to form and maintain group identity, whether of the nation, family, class, or political allegiance.  In the case of the women’s movement, feminist cultural memory takes on a distinct shape and purpose: to act as counter-memories to the amnesia or simplifications of the dominant culture’s tales of what “the longest revolution” was and did.

Dr Henderson will provide an overview of Australian feminist cultural memory, outlining the context for its emergence and later intensification in the 1990s, and the characteristic forms, genres, narratives, and motifs which structure it.  She will then detail two divergent sets of narratives of the Australian women’s movement’s past: academic feminist histories and ‘men on feminism’ popular culture texts.  This allows us to view recollections from both inside and outside the women’s movement, to note the gendering of memory and forgetting, and to identify symptomatic patterns of remembrance, affect, and loss marking the longest revolution in Australia.


Dr Denis Collins: '"Sufficient to quench the thirst of the most insaciate scholler whatsoeuer": Canons and Musical Enigmas in Elizabethan and Stuart England', 5 September 2006

The beginning of the so-called “Golden Age” of English music coincided with the realization of the structural potential of compositional planning based on the principle of imitation of musical motives. Of the many varieties of imitative technique, the strictest form, canonic imitation, was explored extensively in large-scale sacred vocal and secular keyboard works by William Byrd (1543-1623) and his contemporaries and also in near-obsessive collections of plainsong-based canonic settings, many of which survive in manuscript form. In this seminar, the technical challenges posed by these pieces, including their often deliberately obscure musical notation, will be traced particularly in the collections of George Waterhouse (d. 1602) and Elway Bevin (ca. 1554-1638). The quality of the canonic writing from this period and its contribution to the history of canon more generally will be assessed. The synthesis of the speculative component of this branch of composition and its more practical applications by seventeenth-century composers will also be considered, with special reference to Henry Purcell (1659-1695), the last great representative of the Golden Age, who employed canonic techniques successfully across the genres in which he wrote.

Dr Helga Tawil Souri: 'Checkpoints: On the Margins, New Centers of Palestinian Life', 26 September 2006

For a nation fragmented by the politics of territory, Palestinians have had to create their centers on the margins of politically contested boundaries. Checkpoints have become part of the routine of Palestinian life, not only as spaces that demarcate where Palestinian life is allowed to squeeze through, but as spaces of social existence themselves. This talk will describe (and visually share) the variety of checkpoints in the Palestinian Territories, describe what people do at checkpoints, what the political significance of checkpoints are, and argue that checkpoints, often on the geographic margins, have been transformed as the new centers of Palestinian social and economic life in full view of Israeli military surveillance.

Dr Karen Brooks: 'All the World's a Stage: Young People and the Seductions of Popular Culture', 24 October 2006

In Western society, young people are too often homogenised and represented as “out of control” and as a threat, not only to the hierarchical foundations of society, but to themselves. As Henry Giroux writes, “the discourse on youth shifts from an emphasis on social failings in the society to questions of individual character, social policy moves from the language of social investment – creating safety nets for children – to the language of containment and blame” (17). These oppositional classifications of young people as either dangerous or in danger pathologise youth and youth culture, and institutionalize a way of reading “youth” that is reflected in various popular cultural forms. By capturing and (re)producing contradictory but finite identities for young people, the idea of “youth” is harnessed and sold as a commodity that is attractive and available to consumers of all ages. Young people are simultaneously constructed as both product and market and so a circuit of cannibalistic consumption emerges where young people emulate and devour images of themselves: images that are often highly sexualised, provocative and depict the willing consumption of a range of drugs. “Youth” and illicit consumption not only become comfortably linked, but other seductive promises are thrown into the equation such as popularity, social kudos and self-acceptance, making it difficult for many young people to develop a legitimate identity outside these forms. This paper will explore the representation of young people in popular culture (film, television, music and advertising) and the ways in which both mainstream culture and young people themselves respond to these representations.


Dr Fiona Nicoll & Dr Sarah Redshaw: 'Gambling Drivers', 31 October 2006

With reference to examples of texts produced by gambling and automobile industries and government regulators (such as product promotions and education/information pamphlets) Sarah Redshaw and Fiona Nicoll will discuss dominant representations of the ‘problem gambler’ and the ‘dangerous driver’. Initially they will explore how these figures are used by private and public players to promote shared understandings of ‘leisure’, ‘risk’, ‘addiction’ and ‘technology’ and to distribute responsibility for aspects of gambling and driving practices considered destructive to individuals, families and communities in particular ways.  Following this, they will elaborate a new philosophical framework within which to develop research aimed at understanding and governing subjects currently identified to be at-risk of developing or persisting with ‘problem’ gambling and driving behaviours.


Professor Margaret Barrett: 'Singing a Place in the World', 9 November 2006

Young children invent songs – independently, in groups, at work, at play, at rest – as a component of their everyday experience. This song-making arises from their musico-communicative interaction with others including parents and care-givers and is, Associate Professor Barrett suggests, vital to their development (Barrett, 2003, 2006). In this presentation Professor Barrett will draw on the emerging findings of an on-going three year longitudinal study of the song-making of children aged 18 through 60 months to argue that such early song-making is multi-functional in young children’s lives. Young children’s song-making not only lays the foundations for future creative thought and activity in and through music, it also provides a means for young children to explore dimensions of self and identity, and contributes to the maintenance of well-being.