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The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.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 2010, along with their original abstracts. Audio files are provided for seminars that were recorded. For further information on any of these seminars, please contact CCCS Admin.


Dr Peta Mitchell: 'Infectious Ideas: Memes and Metaphors', 13 April 2010

In his 1976 work, The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins proposes, seemingly almost as an afterthought, a second kind of “selfish” replicator. Theories of biological evolution can look to the gene as the base unit of replication and reproduction, but what, Dawkins asks us, about cultural evolution? How are ideas reproduced and why do some ideas find traction while others do not? The neologism Dawkins coins for his proposed cultural replicator is the “meme,” and he cites as examples cultural artefacts such as “tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches.”
In this paper, Dr Mitchell will examine the status of the meme as metaphor, and particularly the ways in which the meme increasingly began to be figured in terms of contagion—as thought contagion—rather than in terms of evolutionary biology. This, she will argue, places the meme within a long tradition of troping human thought as a kind of virus or a form of contagion, and I will consider the meme as developing out of the 17th and 18th century concept of the “contagion of example.” Finally, she wishes to suggest that, despite Stephen Jay Gould’s denigration of the meme as a “meaningless metaphor,” the meme’s reflexive potential means that it may offer itself as a singularly useful tool for considering the very workings of metaphor.

Professor Justin O'Connor: 'Critique of Creative Industries: Or Why We Need a New Politics of Culture', 10 May 2010
This seminar looks at the last ten years of policy making inspired by the notion of 'creative industries,' coined by the UK government in 1998. It suggests that the discourses underpinning this notion, as well as the elisions of the word 'creativity' are now in need of serious questioning. The seminar will suggest that there is a need for a new politics of culture which deals with the purported folding together of culture and economics. However, it also suggests that this cannot be done adequately without also challenging the role of cultural studies in collapsing issues of cultural value into issues of social distinction, and polarising art and popular culture. The seminar will end with a discussion of the possibilities of a radical aesthetics and its potential role in cultural policy.
Introduction: Professor Graeme Turner [0.8 mb]
Seminar Part One [5.3 mb]
Seminar Part Two [5.3 mb]
Seminar Part Three [5.3 mb]
Seminar Part Four [5.0 mb]

Associate Professor Greg Hainge: 'Red Velvet: David Lynch's Cinemat(ograph)ic Ontology', 3 August 2010
Starting out from the assertion that we can only fail to understand David Lynch’s cinema if we do not allow his films to not make sense, in this paper Associate Professor Hainge will go on to ask whether we might better understand Lynch’s cinema if we do not subject it to the kind of integrative approaches favoured by the vast majority of critiques to which his work has been subjected. In suggesting this, it is not Associate Professor Hainge's  aim to suggest that Lynch entirely rejects all kinds of narrative structure, for this is obviously not the case. Rather, he wants to suggest that his cinema (like the pre-1906 ‘cinema of attractions’ analysed by Gunning) is situated on a continuum between narrative integration and attractions, that there are moments throughout his work when the text seems explicitly to resist full narrative closure. What is more, this often happens at moments when the films seem either to delight in their own trickery, at moments of great monstration, or when we enter an über-cinematic space, suggesting, perhaps, that attractions do indeed constitute one of the essential poles of the cinema for Lynch, a constituent part of its ontology as a relational event, which is to say an ontology in which the spectator would also be imbricated in the phenomenological scene of cinema as viewing experience.
Introduction: Professor Graeme Turner [0.9 mb]
Seminar Part One [5.3 mb]
Seminar Part Two [2.5 mb]
Seminar Part Three [6.2 mb]
Seminar Part Four [2.3 mb]
Dr Ben Goldsmith: 'SporTV: The Role of Sports in Changing Television', 7 September 2010
Sport is now, as it has always been, of vital importance to television in all its forms. By a considerable margin sport is the largest content area in terms of the number of hours of television programming produced in Australia each year. Sport is a critical component of free-to-air television in Australia, making up seven of the top ten highest rating programs in 2009, and 19 of the top 20 in 2008. Sports content is also one of the principal forces impelling the growth of pay television in Australia and around the world. In this seminar Dr Goldsmith will explore some of the ways in which sport has transformed television, with ‘television’ understood to mean not only broadcast and cable/satellite television, but also the production and delivery of audiovisual content on the internet and via personal mobile devices.  He will use the term SporTV to refer not only to the coverage of sporting events and sports-related programming such as highlights and magazine shows, but also to the wide variety of sports-themed programming including reality shows like Nerds FC or The Contender, and telesports or made for television sports programs such as Wipeout, or the German show Wok World Championships. He will argue that sporTV is a specific kind of television which has led to innovations in technology, in the processes, practices and geography of presentation and production, in the training and careers of television producers, in program types and styles, and even in modes of viewing television. 
Introduction: Professor Graeme Turner [1.0 mb]
Seminar Part One [5.3 mb]
Seminar Part Two [4.9 mb]
Seminar Part Three [5.4 mb]
Seminar Part Four [3.7 mb]

Dr Mary Debrett: 'Reinventing Public Service Broadcasting for the Digital Future', 26 October 2010
Since the 1980s there has been much speculation about the demise of public service television, initially because of the advent of cable and satellite television and the variety of entertainment channels they offer. While the proliferation of global niche media in the digital age might seem to accelerate the demise of public television, in reality, public broadcasters are undergoing a reinvention. Profiling the reinvention of six television broadcasters as cross platform media providers, this seminar will outline the extensive capabilities of new media for delivering diverse public service goals, and in engaging with digital era’s new risks and challenges. The latter include increasing concentration in media ownership, the conditional nature of much new commercial media, the development of the PR state, and the so-called crisis of journalism as traditional economic models of news media fail. While the fate of public service broadcasting is inevitably dependent on political will, it is a system that still offers some unique solutions to problems facing the media industries in the twenty-first century. This seminar will draw on industry research interviews undertaken with staff from across the six broadcasters which as a group represent the broad possibilities of the public service model: the BBC, the classic, mainstream public service broadcaster; C4, a publisher broadcaster representing the cross-subsidy model; the ABC, a comprehensive and complementary national broadcaster; the SBS, a multicultural publisher broadcaster; US Public Television as the market failure model with a uniquely local and educational focus; and TVNZ as a born-again public broadcaster with a dual public-commercial remit.
Associate Professor Mark McLelland: 'Australia’s Child-Abuse Materials Legislation, Internet Regulation and the Juridification of the Imagination', 9 November 2010
This seminar investigates the implications of Australia’s blanket prohibition of ‘child-abuse material’ (including cartoons, animation, drawings, digitally manipulated photographs, and text) for Australian fan communities of animation, comics and gaming (ACG) and slash fiction. ACG/slash fan groups in Australia and elsewhere routinely consume, produce and disseminate material that contains content that would be ‘refused classification’ (i.e. featuring fictitious ‘under-age’ characters in violent and sexual scenarios).   Two lines of argument are advanced in the seminar to show that current legislation is seriously out of synch with the new communicative environment brought about by the Internet. Firstly, Henry Jenkins’s analysis of participatory fan culture is engaged to demonstrate that (i) a large portion of the fans producing and trading in these images are themselves minors and young people and (ii) legislators have failed to comprehend the manner in which the Internet is facilitating the development of new literacies, including sexual literacies. Habermas’s analysis of the conflict between instrumental and communicative rationality is then deployed to demonstrate that legislators have misrecognised the nature of the communicative practices that take place within the ‘lifeworlds’ of these fan communities resulting in an unjust ‘juridification’ of their creative practices. Drawing on Japanese research into the overwhelmingly female fandom surrounding ‘Boys Love’ (BL) manga, it is argued that current Australian legislation not only forecloses the fantasy lives of young Australian fans but also harms them by mistakenly aligning them with paedophile networks and threatening them with arrest, prosecution, and a lifetime on the sex offenders’ list. Finally, drawing upon Jean Cohen’s paradigm of ‘reflexive law’ the seminar considers a possible way forward that opens up channels of communication between regulators, fans, domain host administrators and media studies professionals that would encourage a more nuanced approach to legislation as well as a greater awareness of the need for self-regulation among fan communities.
Introduction: Professor Graeme Turner [1.0 mb]
Seminar Part One [5.3mb]
Seminar Part Two [4.9mb]
Seminar Part Three [5.4mb]
Seminar Part Four [3.7mb]
Professor Anne Balsamo: 'Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination at Work', 9 December 2010
This talk will present work from the forthcoming book called:  Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination at Work. It will focus on the relationship between the digital humanities and technocultural innovation.
Introduction: Professor Graeme Turner [1.0 mb]
Seminar Part One [4.5 mb]
Seminar Part Two [4.5 mb]
Seminar Part Three [5.1 mb]
Seminar Part Four [5.0 mb]
Associate Professor Vicki Mayer: 'What’s Identity Got to Do With It? Cultural Studies of Identity and Media Production in the New Television Economy', 14 December 2010
In studies of television production, the value of invisible labor still remains obscured by the narrow focus on what historically came to be known as the "creative professional." In an attempt to understand the role of invisible labor in the production of television specifically and the reproduction of media power more generally, Dr Mayer will offer a glimpse into the lives of four workers who contribute to the bottom line for the television industry, even as most of their work is undervalued, uncompensated, or ignored. These workers, and the types of labors they perform, illustrate the ways the new television economy has distributed sponsorship and regulatory work to new categories of workers while reserving definitions of creativity and professionalism for those who fit in particular identity categories.  Workers’ identity work, or the production of themselves as a gendered, sexed, raced, classed, and national workers, is key to understanding how and why people consent to media power and labor exploitation on behalf of television industries.

Introduction: Professor Graeme Turner [0.7 mb]
Seminar Part One [4.2 mb]
Seminar Part Two [4.0 mb]
Seminar Part Three [4.3 mb]
Seminar Part Four [3.8 mb]