School of Culture and Communication - Theses

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    Extreme males: autistic masculinity in three bestsellers
    Kelly, Peter ( 2015)
    Inspired by Simon Baron-Cohen’s theory that autism can be understood as an extreme version of typical male behaviour, this thesis will examine whether this view is reflected in the representation of autistic males in best-selling fiction (“Extreme Male Brain” 248). It will investigate autism representations in the context of hegemonic masculinity, by comparing the behaviour of Christopher Boone from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Jacob Hunt from House Rules, and Don Tillman from The Rosie Project to Linda Lindsey’s masculinity norms. These include anti-femininity, emotional reticence, success, intelligence, toughness, aggressiveness and an obsessive heterosexuality (Lindsey 241-7). While Christopher's surprising violence, extreme intelligence, insensitivity and stubbornness are masculine traits, his asexuality disqualifies him from being an extreme male. Jacob’s masculinity is shown in his aggressiveness, intellect and physique, but is undermined by his ambiguous sexuality and patchy career history. Don’s physical appearance, heterosexuality, stoic attitude and intellect are all masculine qualities, unlike his need for social guidance and apparent virginity at the novel’s beginning. All three characters are white and compensate for a lack of emotional awareness with hyper-rationality. Their paradoxical masculinity may account for their novels’ success. This thesis finds that these three fictional autistics are not extreme males by the standards of hegemonic masculinity.
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    A creative nation is a productive nation: a theoretical and contextual exploration of Tasmania’s Collect Art loan scheme
    Buckley, Caroline ( 2015)
    Tasmania’s Collect Art loan scheme enables eligible consumers to take out an interest free loan from the Tasmanian Government in order to purchase works of art. As the first scheme of its kind in Australia, Collect Art presents an interesting and real life case study of a market facilitating instrument of government subvention. With the aim to explore and establish its significance as such, this thesis discusses the Collect Art loan scheme within relevant theoretical and contextual frameworks. It explores the implications of Collect Art with respect to its impact on artists, government and consumers, and under these circumstances, assesses its efficacy. I have determined that the efficacy of Collect Art is located predominantly in its economic outcomes. To this end, I have concluded that the scheme’s significance lies in its orientation toward the consumer, and in its establishment as a consequence of the economic paradigm that permeates the contemporary arts ecosystem.
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    Rituals of girlhood: fairy tales on the teen screen
    BELLAS, ATHENA ( 2015)
    The research question that this dissertation asks is: can contemporary teen screen media include representations of adolescent girls who oppose their subordinate, objectified position within adult patriarchal culture, and how do these expressions of opposition manifest onscreen? I explore this question through an analysis of postmodern screen texts that hybridise the fairy tale with the contemporary teen screen genre because this contemporary trend in fairy tale revision produces new, more empowered representations of the feminine rite-of-passage. In this thesis, I compare fairy tale narratives that once privileged patriarchal authority – particularly the versions written by Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Andersen – with contemporary teen screen revisions that produce new representations of fairy tale heroines who confront and challenge this very authority. To identify moments of feminine adolescent resistance and noncompliance on the teen screen, I chart the phase of liminality in the rite-of-passage narrative. While there has been some theorisation of liminality on the teen screen, not enough work has been done on how liminality provides a space for heroines to articulate alternative feminine adolescent voices and identities. This dissertation redeploys Victor Turner’s work on liminality for a feminist agenda. I use this theory as a way to not only locate instances of dislocation and fissures in the dominant system that regulates girlhood, but to also discover how the limits of this system can be made malleable in the liminal zone. Additionally, I explore the political potential of liminality by investigating whether this unsettling of limits can create social change for the heroines beyond the liminal phase in their post-liminal return to conventional culture. This dissertation makes an original contribution to knowledge by arguing for the feminist potential of these moments because they represent a rupture in the status quo, and in the resistant space of this gap, a new screen language of feminine adolescence articulates the girl as a powerful subject who is agentically doing girlhood.
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    Feeling all white: contesting 'homely' nationalisms in Australian public broadcast television
    Pym, Tinonee ( 2015)
    This thesis examines recent public broadcast television that addresses contemporary race relations and multiculturalism in Australia. The work draws on anthropologist Ghassan Hage’s theorisation of ‘homely’ and ‘governmental’ articulations of belonging to examine how the white national subject is produced as a manager of ‘others’, as well as how recent programming has challenged this discourse. The thesis discusses two ‘docu-reality’ programs, Go Back to Where You Came From (2011) and Dumb, Drunk and Racist (2012), showing how they shore up the ideal viewer through a rhetoric of ‘ordinariness’ as naturalised whiteness. I examine how the series draw on a set of racial ‘flashpoints’ to focalise white affect and to undermine the racism of these events by locating racist violence in the past, and by deflecting racist attitudes onto white working-class subjects. In contrast, I analyse a comedy program, Legally Brown (2013–2014), which employs a shifting mode of address to confound and destabilise managerial whiteness. Using this comparative example, I show how the series challenges and displaces the other programs’ notions of ‘ordinary Australians’ by playing with ‘Brown’ stereotypes and by satirising whiteness. In this way, I suggest that the series opens up space for future programming which refuses to recuperate ‘well-meaning whiteness’ as its central affect.
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    The syntax of difference: Gilles Deleuze, media theory, and the problem of representation
    Sutherland, Thomas Robert ( 2015)
    This thesis examines the work of philosopher Gilles Deleuze in relation to contemporary media theory, arguing that the compatibility between metaphysics and media studies should not be taken for granted. Following the ‘non-philosophical’ approach of François Laruelle, it is argued that Deleuze’s project is defined by a disjunctive synthesis between his metaphysics and metaphilosophy, and that when his ontological concepts are introduced into media theory, they tend to ossify, gaining an unintended and problematic descriptive or explanatory power.
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    The mediatization of Malcolm X
    Petropoulos, Nash ( 2010)
    In the aftermath of the end of Cold War, the ideological restructuring that took place fundamentally affected the representation of one of the African American public figures of the 1970’s that was portrayed as deviant by the media and yet up that until that enjoyed time relative obscurity: Malcolm X. After the Spike Lee biopic, interest in his figure was rekindled albeit in an entirely new direction after the Watts Riots of 1992. Due to this shift, a cultural commodification of his figure undermined the subversiveness of his message and two decades later, there is still need for an extensive discussion to re-conceptualize the subtle reinforcement of hegemonic structures in the mediatization process and address the political context in the commodification of Malcolm X. In that vein. this article applies the notion of mediatization of the figure of Malcolm X on film and television as analyzed through the lens of cultural commodification.
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    Displays of union: Scottish art and British cultural identity in Australia, 1860-1945
    Fraser, Suzanne ( 2015)
    Scottish art was consistently collected and displayed in Australia from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century and continues to be included in the nation’s historic art museums to the present day. Public art institutions, such as the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, were established in the second half of the nineteenth century to serve as destinations of recreation and moral instruction in the British colonies. Consequently, works of Scottish art – together with displays of Scottish visual culture in the public and private spheres of society, more broadly – have contributed to the development of Australia’s cultural mores as they exist today. Yet the demarcation of Scottish art from ‘British’ art has only recently been undertaken in Australia, and remains to be fully explored. This thesis aims to offer an account of how and why Scottish art has been displayed in Australia. With a focus on the public collections of Victoria, this thesis will examine several important examples of Scottish art acquired up until the close of World War Two. The value of this undertaking is twofold: firstly, it ensures that the contributions of Scottish art and visual culture in this context are not sidelined in favour of English contributions and, secondly, it illustrates the interdependence of Scottish art and Britishness within the context of the Empire. This project thereby assists in the delineation of Scottish influences and characteristics from within the larger narrative of British cultural identity in Australia. The examples presented in this thesis encompass paintings, interior decoration and public statuary. By drawing on recent scholarship in the fields of art history, Scottish studies, empire studies and cultural geography, this project aims to reappraise these works of art and visual culture and, in turn, reveal the historic significance of Scottish art in Australia. By positioning this investigation as a new voice in contemporary dialogues concerning the role of the Scottish nation within the British state, this thesis will argue that Scottish art was a vital component in the establishment of British cultural identity in Australia across the period of at least a century. It will also be shown that Scottish art continues to have a prominent place in the cultural collections of this settler nation.
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    The other side of realism: David Foster Wallace & the hysteric's discourse
    Yates, Elliot ( 2014-05-08)
    “Hysterical Realism” was coined by James Wood in 2000 to pejoratively name the intermillennial “inhuman” maximalist turn in American and British fiction. I recuperate the term as a critical category, redefining it at the intersection of Lacanian psychoanalysis and Lukácsian realism. David Foster Wallace’s fiction is a thoroughgoing aesthetic deployment of the hysteric’s discourse: it inhabits and intervenes in discourses presumed to be legitimate, staging an immanent critique of the mechanisms of the emerging Deleuzian “society of control”. Wallace’s hysterical realism is the “other side” of realism; neither “narration” nor “description”, it is both a polyphonic, mimetic torrent of language that must be read with careful discrimination, and the internal, “symptomatic” undermining of the Lacanian master’s and university discourses. It is a realism capable of legitimately resisting the 21st century intensification of capitalism’s capture of the symbolic order.
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    Don't let the future pass you by: iterative dystopias on the postmillennial screen
    Chandler, Blythe Victoria ( 2015)
    In the decade 2001-2010, films which presented spectacular futures dominated the box office. In contrast, Code 46 (2003), 2046 (2004) and Inception (2010) conceived immediately recognisable tomorrows, pessimistic futures firmly rooted in the socio-historical present. Despite their divergent production backgrounds, differing story arcs and disparate aesthetics, this thesis contends that these texts are key, early examples of a new subcycle of films it titles Iterative Dystopia. Using a social science fiction criticism methodology, this thesis conducts an interdisciplinary investigation which draws on science fiction genre analysis, dystopian narrative theory and contemporary sociological concepts to define the formal characteristics of the collection and offers fresh readings of the texts. This thesis finds that Iterative Dystopias are defined by the theme of perpetual liminality, an original concept developed following the work of sociologist Arpad Szakolczai. Iterative Dystopia’s perpetually liminal protagonists trace iterative paths across their narrative arcs, searching for an alternative to the continuous transitions of lives lived in this in-between state. Their goal is personal. They just want a place to call home. In direct contrast to the conventional dystopian protagonist, these characters are seeking their utopia within the familiar. These characters are, however, thwarted in their attempts to find a sense of belonging. Through a close textual analysis, this thesis explores three of the narrative environments in which these characters conduct their quotidian existence: the home, the relationship and the mind; and establishes that Iterative Dystopia’s protagonists are frustrated by paradoxes. They reside in Foucauldian heterotopic places and are uncomfortably exposed in their performance of their everyday. They seek solace in their relationships, but find their communications hampered. Their verbal and haptic exchanges produce multiple, contradictory meanings which this thesis explores through Fritz Senn’s concept of dislocution. They seek refuge in their memories, but their minds are sites of control. Working from Ulrich Beck’s definition, this thesis defines these characters as uncertain and contrasts them with the anxious, alienated protagonist found in the conventional dystopian form. Ultimately, Iterative Dystopias retain a glimmer of hope in the ambiguities that remain as their credits roll. In conclusion, this thesis finds evidence that, far from being limited to films which garnered theatrical release in the postmillennial decade, the Iterative Dystopia subcycle continues beyond the bounds of this study.
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    Convergence and contingency: Morse Peckham in the history of theory
    Kaluza, Shane ( 2015)
    The writings of Morse Peckham (1914-1993) constitute a highly original and ambitious intellectual project, a wide-ranging but conceptually unified inquiry, originating within the study of literature but eventually encompassing theories of art, language, power, and social structure. During the time that Peckham undertook this project the institutional and intellectual context in which he worked was being transformed by the rise of “Theory”, but the full scope of his work and its relation to this phenomenon has never been examined in detail. This thesis studies the development and reception of Peckham’s work over four decades, and its conjunction with the emergence and consolidation of Theory. It asks what Peckham’s idiosyncratic project—one that was very different from Theory and yet strikingly analogous in many of its concerns and conclusions—can tell us about the cultural and historical circumstances subsuming both developments. By focusing on four areas of significant overlap in the themes and motivations animating Peckham’s project and Theory—the legacy of Romanticism; the reaction against formalism at the end of modernism; semiotic theories of language; and the political implications of an antifoundationalist epistemology—this thesis investigates the bases of their convergence. It argues that a principle articulated in Peckham’s work, that of openness to the new as a necessary breach in all structures of knowledge and action, unifies the different aspects of his inquiry and the aesthetic, epistemological and political concerns of his theory. Such a principle, it argues, can also be identified operating in a diffuse and generalised way within Theory, and helps to describe the particular pattern of its development. Relating Peckham’s work to Theory thus provides both a means of understanding the scope and trajectory of his project, and a unique and valuable perspective on the history of Theory. It is a perspective that allows for a conceptualisation of Theory’s emergence from a broader historical and intellectual situation, but also a sharpened sense of its specificity and contingency as a particular response to those circumstances.