School of Culture and Communication - Theses
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ItemLarrikins, Listeners and Lifeline: inside Australian comedy chatcast The Little Dum Dum ClubKnowles, Matilda ( 2022)Australian comedy chatcast The Little Dum Dum Club (2010 – present) is a loosely structured weekly podcast hosted by two stand-up comedians and good mates Tommy Dassalo and Karl Chandler. Each episode usually features one to three guests, often also stand-up comedians, who casually chat with Chandler and Dassalo and joke about their lives and the world around them. In this thesis I establish how hosts, guests and listeners of comedy chatcasts co-create their performance conventions by collaboratively and often unwittingly combining a range of social norms, stand-up comedy techniques and conversational skills. Understanding how these conventions are created and shared shows how comedy chatcasts influence host and listener behaviour in podcast-related spaces and in their broader lives. As I demonstrate, comedy chatcasts have influence even when the intention of the hosts and guests is only to be funny. The comedians in The Little Dum Dum Club are always looking for the joke, and the humour is often insult-based and puerile. These are contemporary larrikin performances, involving taking the piss out of one another, themselves and authority in an egalitarian way, a shared self-deprecation that also encompasses a sense of mateship. Rather than uncritically reiterating these dominant conventions of white Australian masculinity, however, the comedic performances in the podcast both represent and critique them. The performance conventions of comedy chatcasts create a “safe space” in which comedians can humorously explore ideas and respond to changing cultural norms in a way that does not radically reshape them but does suggest opportunities for intervention and evolution. The impact of this is clear, for instance, in the meaningful but humorous discussions of suicidality on the podcast and how joking about lived experience reframes flippant suicide jokes to lessen shame and promote help-seeking behaviour among listeners and comedians. Listeners likewise have a set of conventions which enable them to perform their fandom of the comedy chatcast. Building on podcast scholarship about intimacy and parasocial relationships, I show how listeners attempt to replicate the mateship form of friendship performed on the podcast using its jokingly abusive comedy style. For listeners of The Little Dum Dum Club, successfully performing their listenership requires navigating a series of at times conflicting conventions which are often at odds with broader norms of appropriateness and do not necessarily find a willing audience. Podcasts have niche global audiences and conventions need to be interpreted and performed to receptive audiences in order to be successful. The Little Dum Dum Club is unique in its content, but not in its construction. This thesis shows how comedy chatcasts as new media enable analysis of the shifts in and discussions of our cultural norms that happen in non-radical, flexible and playful ways. Through such analysis, we can see how comedy chatcasts can be influential in minor and major ways for those involved.
ItemEveryday Traces: Diasporic Hauntings and the Affectivity of Historical Trauma Among Cambodian-Australian WomenHach, Maria ( 2020)This thesis explores how traces of the Cambodian genocide affectively haunts Cambodian-Australian women. I draw upon postcolonial theory, affect theory and feminist studies, to analyse the ways in which Cambodian-Australian women mediate memories and experiences in relation to broader cultural, social and historical structures. I contend that intergenerational trauma, gendered norms, and the politics of racism and belonging shape women’s connections to their Cambodian heritage and Cambodian identities in diverse and significant ways. My methodology, which includes qualitative in-depth interviews with Cambodian-Australian women is informed by a feminist approach that foregrounds women’s lived experiences. Yet, this thesis is not only about haunted diasporic subjects; it is also written from the perspective of a haunted diasporic subject. Given my positionality as an ‘insider’ researcher, I use a reflexive, autoethnographic approach, to writing, in order to challenge conventional modes of storytelling in academia and to interrogate what counts as ‘evidence’ in social science research. To this end, I situate my autoethnographic pieces alongside my participants’ narratives in an attempt to disrupt the subject-researcher distinction. My thesis adopts Grace Cho’s (2008) creative and reflexive approach and Avery Gordon’s (2008) method of ‘linking imagination and critique’, to not only explore the hauntings legacies of the Cambodian genocide, but to perform the very thing that my research tries to capture: ‘affective hauntings’. Using Avery Gordon’s (2008) theory of ‘haunting’ as an overarching framework, I argue that for many of my participants, all of whom were raised in Australia by one or both parents who survived the Cambodian genocide, the collective traumas of Cambodia’s devastating history have affected and continue to affect their lives, in subtle and not so subtle ways. Intergenerational hauntings, while sometimes difficult to locate, can provoke affective states that are embodied, and reflect emotions such as confusion, guilt, unease, melancholy, sadness, sorrow, pain, pride, and gratitude. These affective states are relational, contextually driven, cultural, discursive and continually negotiated. Certainly, embodied hauntings speak to histories of grief and loss, and yet from this loss, something else, something beyond psychopathology emerges. Drawing on feminist theories that highlight the generative possibilities of affect (Dragojlovic and Broom 2018; Ahmed 2010), I explore how intergenerational hauntings are sites of possibility that can open up new ways of thinking about identity and agency. As illustrated by my participants’ narratives, hauntings can be expressed by desires to actively engage with the past, recover histories, and ‘return’ to Cambodia.
ItemA Gothic vision: the architectural patronage of Bishop James Goold in colonial VictoriaColleoni, Paola ( 2020)During his almost 40 years long episcopacy, James Alipius Goold (1812-1886), the first Roman Catholic bishop of Melbourne, laid strong foundations for the Catholic church in Victoria. The diocese of Melbourne counted only two churches and two chapels when he arrived in 1848, but, during his lifetime, clergymen claimed he laid as many foundations stones as Saint Patrick himself. After ten years spent as a missionary in New South Wales, Goold dedicated himself to the diocese of Melbourne. He established a firm administration, and was involved in several aspects of church building. He selected prominent locations and provided parish priests with suitable designs, he decided how to allocate Government funds and visited the building site whenever possible. His architectural patronage exemplifies the evolution of Gothic taste in Victoria. While earlier commissions encompassed Gothick churches, in the wake of the gold rush Goold had the resources to commission archaeologically correct Gothic Revival churches from the English architects Joseph and Charles Hansom. Over the years Goold developed a network including leading manufacturers in Europe and Australia to provide glass, furnishings and metalwork of the finest quality for the Gothic churches he was building. He gifted items to the parishes to dignify also the humble temporary buildings used for Sunday mass. In 1858, the English Catholic-convert architect William Wardell relocated to Melbourne. He had worked on about 30 church commissions in England, almost all of them in the Gothic Revival style faithful to AWN Pugin’s principles. Wardell was the man Goold needed to pursue his Gothic vision in Victoria. In the following decade, the bishop commissioned him to provide plans for at least a dozen parish churches ranging in size and refinement for city parishes and rural districts alike. His ambitious patronage culminated with the realisation of St Patrick’s Cathedral to Wardell’s grand design, a building rooted in French and English mediaeval tradition matching the size of European cathedrals. Bishop Goold played a remarkable role in shaping the built environment of the colony. His championing of the Gothic Revival style ascribes his name among the group of patrons who translated European culture to colonial Australia.
Item'Once we had bread here, you gave us stone'. Food as a technology of biopower in the stories of Jack Davis, Ruby Langford Ginibi, and Alexis WrightFarry, Steven ( 2019)This thesis presents the first comprehensive study of food in the works of Indigenous Australian storytellers. It uses Foucault’s analyses of biopower as a grid of intelligibility through which to describe food’s various functions and effects as they are recorded, reproduced, refracted, and resisted in Jack Davis’s, Ruby Langford Ginibi’s, and Alexis Wright’s storytelling. The thesis reads food as a technology of biopower: a means by which life ‘passe[s] into knowledge's field of control and power's sphere of intervention’ (Foucault 1978, 142). Following a Foucaultian methodology, it presents close and contextualised readings of the ways that food is instrumentalised as a technology of biopower and the functions, effects, and networks of biopower that result in and through the storytellers’ works. The specific topics the thesis engages include accounts of rationing and food-centric resistance in Davis’s plays, food insecurity and obesity discourse in Langford Ginibi’s life stories, and food’s relationship with alcohol and imperilment in Wright’s stories. It traces continuities between the storytellers’ treatment of food as well as identifying the way food generates and is implicated in evolving configurations and networks of biopower. It explores various resistance strategies and their efficacy in and through their stories, as well as the new subjects, hegemonic relations, institutions, forms of government, and fields of power-knowledge that result.
ItemWriting places: whiteness and the design of the built environmentChiodo, Louise Jane ( 2018)The design of the built environment affects people. In Australia, designed spaces reflect specific ideas about nationhood that do not represent the reality of a diverse population. Instead, a white national identity pervades with unresolved issues of land often at the heart of such identity narratives. Whiteness, understood as a specific power structure, operates through landscapes and architecture in explicit and implicit ways. Indigenous cultural identities are also present within and against all of these expressions of whiteness. Such tensions arise in the first instance due to manifestations of whiteness in designed spaces being situated in Indigenous lands and Country while colonial histories and their associated violence, both symbolic and literal, remain largely unacknowledged. This thesis uses a mixed methodology to investigate a range of spaces, including demarcated national spaces, memorial sites, and places of exhibition, through the lens of critical race and whiteness studies to reveal how these identity tensions occur. Though the Australian context is the main focus of the study, an initial look to how similar issues are playing out in the US highlights the existence of transnational whiteness and the nature of the newly-formed relationship between the two nations at the time of Australia’s Federation. It is argued that the complicated relationship between these cultural identities affects the way landscapes and architecture are experienced, whether this is realised on a conscious level or not. Further, by using critical and reflexive modes of engagement, designers can gain deeper insights into place, see and feel their position in relation to these identity tensions, and understand how power is operating through them. This examination of the way cultural identities such as whiteness and Indigeneity are expressed through the design of national, memorial and exhibition spaces, allows a way into thinking about how the same tensions and power dynamics may also be taking place in more everyday spaces.
ItemAustralia and the Pacific: the ambivalent place of Pacific peoples within contemporary AustraliaMackay, Scott William ( 2018)My thesis examines the places (real and symbolic) accorded to Pacific peoples within the historical production of an Australian nation and in the imaginary of Australian nationalism. It demonstrates how these places reflect and inform the ways in which Australia engages with the Pacific region, and the extent to which Australia considers itself a part of or apart from the Pacific. While acknowledging the important historical and contemporary differences between the New Zealand and Australian contexts, I deploy theoretical concepts and methods developed within the established field of New Zealand- centred Pacific Studies to identify and analyse what is occurring in the much less studied Australian-Pacific context. In contrast to official Australian discourse, the experiences of Pacific people in Australia are differentiated from those of other migrant communities because of: first, Australia’s colonial and neo-colonial histories of control over Pacific land and people; and second, Pacific peoples' important and unique kinships with Aboriginal Australians. Crucially the thesis emphasises the significant diversity (both cultural and national) of the Pacific experience in Australia. My argument is advanced first by a historicisation of Australia’s formal engagements with Pacific people, detailing intersecting narratives of their migration to Australia and Australia’s colonial and neo- colonial engagements within the Pacific region. This is followed by case studies of two celebrated sites of Australian “Pacificness”: first, a mapping of the involvement of Pacific players in the sport of rugby league in Australia; and second, an analytic record of Australia’s representation at the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts, held in the Solomon Islands in 2012. A Pacific Studies methodology is developed to provide a theoretically sound and empirically informed approach to Pacific research that distinguishes it from current studies in or of the Pacific.