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The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.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 2013, 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 Morgan Richards: 'Planet Attenborough: Wildlife Documentary and the Politics of Climate Change', 30 April 2013

For over fifty years David Attenborough’s wildlife documentaries have enthralled audiences around the world. He is renowned for the genre of landmark wildlife series, or big budget multi-part documentaries, which he both wrote and presented. Beginning with Life on Earth (1979) and continuing to recent series such as Frozen Planet (2011), these documentaries changed the way we look at animals. For the first time, audiences were offered a global vision of wildlife and nature, communicating the complexity and infinite variety of different animals and ecosystems to the general public. Yet Attenborough’s landmarks still continue to frame nature as separate from human culture and politics, and until recently they were largely untroubled by the consequences of climate change and other environmental issues.

As a wave of environmental problems from climate change to mass extinctions gathers force, this seminar asks how one of the most celebrated communicators of the natural world has rendered animals and the environment visible as objects of popular fascination and concern. Taking her cue from media ecology and theories of ecological citizenship, Dr Richards will trace the evolution of Attenborough’s landmarks through changes in broadcasting, and the public representation and construction of climate change in the broader media landscape. She will argue that Attenborough’s series fundamentally changed the way we looked at wild animals and the environment. But Dr Richards will also tell an alternate story about how these series, with their pristine visions of wilderness and their evocations of science as balanced and ordered, largely glossed over the complexities of environmental politics and scientific practice to offer increasingly spectacular and technologized visions of nature.


Associate Professor Waddick Doyle: 'Berlusconi and Disruption: Theorising the Brand Shift in Politics', 7 May 2013

Much of Silvio Berlusconi’s success depended on his former enemies, renegade situationists who came to apply the techniques of disruption first to conventional communications and then to television and sports. The techniques of counter-programming between television networks - where the first purpose is to break and transform existing audience habits - became the prototype for a series of other transformations. They were then applied to disrupt the patterns of retail consumption and sport. Eventually they were applied to political allegiance creating a new party and taking power. Despite - or perhaps because of - repeated scandals, Berlusconi has made yet another electoral comeback, putting Italian politics into disarray.
This paper examines how brands have become less signs of a product but what Ardvidsson calls “platforms for action” and what Muniz and O’Gorman have called “designed communities”. Brands attract attention by creating enigmas and language games which decrease the role of deliberative debate. It is argued that this is done through a technique of "brand shifting” where a sign acts a type of shifter between different genres of human communication, activity, belief and allegiance. The brand moves audiences from football or television to politics changing identity and perception of self. 

Introduction: Professor Graeme Turner [1.5 mb]
Seminar Part One [12.0 mb]
Seminar Part Two [12.5 mb]
Seminar Part Three [12.1 mb]
Seminar Part Four [12.5 mb]


Adjunct Prof Fiona Foley, Dr Campbell Gray & Dr Fiona Nicoll: 'Courting Blakness', 6 August 2013

The Great Court is the symbolic heart of the University of Queensland and denotes its membership as one of Australia’s ‘sandstone’ universities. It hosts an annual footrace modelled on the event in Cambridge depicted in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire and the cloisters provide a picturesque backdrop for photos of gowned graduates and weekend bridal parties as well as at least one locally produced Karaoke DVD. More than this however, the Great Court is the place where the University’s history and authority coalesces and is amplified. Architecture, space, and a myriad of visual signifiers combine to declare the institution’s power at least in aspirational terms. Courting Blakness stands boldly within this hegemonic space and asks important questions of its culture.
In September 2014 UQ Adjunct Professor, Fiona Foley, will curate a temporary public art exhibition in the Great Court with seven Indigenous artists. Works by Archie Moore, Ryan Presley, Michael Cook, Christian Thompson, rea, Karla Dickens and Natalie Harkin, using different artistic media, from sculpture and performance to photography, poetry and multimedia, will speak to concepts of nationhood and the tensions that arise from unresolved sovereignty. The creative visual dialogue these works initiate with the Great Court’s stone carvings depicting Aboriginal people and customs will promote a nuanced understanding of Indigenous-settler relations, both past and present.

Courting Blakness will put UQ at the centre of national and international debates about the place of Indigenous art and knowledge in the University’s digital age. The new conversations it sparks within and beyond our classrooms will reverberate after the installation is demounted through digital visualisation and archiving. The project will also consolidate UQ’s research strengths on Indigenous Australian matters, stimulating interdisciplinary publications in fields such as politics, cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, Indigenous studies, law, architecture and education. Community engagement opportunities will flow through partnerships with Indigenous cultural and media organisations, other universities in Queensland and visits of school groups and tourists. 

Welcome: Professor Cindy Shannon, Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous Education) [1.7 mb]
Introduction: Gay Hawkins [5.0 mb]
Seminar Part One: Dr Campbell Gray [17.1 mb] PowerPoint presentation available by request
Seminar Part Two: Adjunct Professor Fiona Foley [10.5 mb] PowerPoint presentation [11.6 mb]
Seminar Part Three: Dr Fiona Nicoll [12.3 mb] PowerPoint presentation [6.1 mb]


Dr Angi Buettner: 'Climate Change and Popular Culture', 10 September 2013

This will be a seminar about how the climate change debate plays out within popular media. Dr Beuttner will discuss how this connects to the sciences’ attempts at communicating climate change to the public, as well as to the relationship between media information and potential action.

The current political situation surrounding climate change is paradoxical. There is an emerging ecological revolution, with calls for urgent political action and a utopian return to nature. There is also a counter position, a green backlash with either political stagnation and a lack of urgency in political responses to climate change; or a call for more techno-capital solutions, not just represented by climate change deniers but also by neo-conservative governments. Sociologists, such as Bruno Latour have described this situation as “the disconnect”, referring to the distance between our awareness of the environmental crisis, and our inability to handle it politically. 

This presentation will argue that researching popular culture as one of the important social arenas where climate change is communicated can help to address this “disconnect” and help answer questions addressed by climate change communication research, which are, however, traditionally primarily covered or addressed in news media or other genres of formal science communication.

The most urgent of such questions is the relationship between media information and potential behavioural change. Popular culture, rather than being mere distraction, opens up connections between the formal spaces of climate science, policy and politics with the spaces of everyday life. This might give access to discursive spaces where the social construction of climate change is played out that we otherwise might not see, and show at work the shaping of alternative or new possibilities of engagement with climate change.


Dr Isolda Rojas Lizana and Dr Maryam Jamarani: '"So far, I've been lucky": Coping with Stigmatised Identity - The LGBTIQ and Muslim Cases', 29 October 2013

This seminar will explore the experiences of discrimination as reported by Brisbane-based LGBTIQ and Muslim participants during semi-structured interviews. Data was classified in order to develop a taxonomy of discrimination that foregrounded two types: verbal and behavioural. In this seminar the speakers will exemplify these types and offer a comparative analysis of the main active and passive coping strategies used in the construction of the experiences from a discourse analytical perspective.

The results show that discrimination is an overt phenomenon and that participants are stressed by the ever-present possibility of facing it. Findings of this study will also be discussed in the light of social identity theory and in particular the rejection-identification model (Branscombe et al, 1999), which explains an often-employed strategy whereby the stigmatized individual strengthens their ties with their minority group as a psychological strategy to improve their self-esteem. The findings of this qualitative study contribute to the field of Discourse Studies and complement applied disciplines such as Social Psychology and Mental Health.