School of Culture and Communication - Theses
Now showing items 1-12 of 487
Sketching out the Tomboy: Contemporary Conceptualisations of the Tomboy Identity in Lesbian Communities in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan
This thesis examines the conceptualisations, uses, and politics of the lesbian secondary gender “tomboy” within lesbian communities in China (PRC), Hong Kong, and Taiwan during the late 2010s. The term tomboy has been widely used by queer women in these communities to describe masculine lesbian expressions, fashion, and/or gender role for over four decades. Screen representations of tomboy originating from within the Chinese-speaking world and from neighbouring Asian regions were particularly popular among these women during the late 2000s and early 2010s. And yet, since the 1990s and increasingly today, a growing section of these communities has been calling for a collective rejection of tomboy, claiming that it reinforces conservative patriarchal and heteronormative values and is therefore anti-feminist. This thesis draws on life stories from those caught between the once-popular use of tomboy and their newfound anti-tomboy feminist sensibilities. It explores the stories of the many women who decided to abandon their tomboy identity in search of their real gender, women who turn to American queer media in hopes of finding true feminist lesbian representations, those who struggle with whether to identify as tomboy or not, and those who in the process of self-searching no longer see themselves as lesbians or women at all. It analyses how contemporary debates about the tomboy in turn shape the ways in which these individuals think about gender, sexual identity, the self, geographies, and cultures. This thesis also examines the contributions that transnational queer screen representations make to popular conceptualisations of the tomboy and these related ideas. It combines textual analysis of relevant screen texts circulating within the communities in question with in-depth empirical interview data revealing participants’ interpretations of these screen texts. This thesis thus offers a critical engagement with the media materials that contribute to the cultural production of the tomboy identity, and more urgently, it is also a critical engagement with the intimate, conceptual, and affective worlds of those who live out this identity.
Indigenous Futurism: Practices and Politics
This thesis examines Indigenous Futurism as an activist practice. Indigenous Futurism is an emerging international mode of Indigenous creative production. Recently, it has become an increasingly used form of artistic expression and tool for political organising in Australia. Indigenous Futurism uses future time to produce visions of Indigenous survivance and to subvert colonial narratives of history and politics. It can transform our thinking in relation to challenges we face in the present as Indigenous people. In the last decade, a number of texts have emerged in Australia by Indigenous people which imagine political futures. This thesis explores three works made in 2013 and 2014, including Alexis Wright’s novel The Swan Book (2013), Ellen Van Neerven’s short story Water (2014), and Nicole Watson’s alternative feminist judgment In the Matter of Djappari re Tukiar 2035 (2014). Additionally, it engages with one Canadian virtual reality work by Danis Goulet, The Hunt (2017). The original contribution of this thesis is to examine Indigenous Futurist works as examples of what Poka Laenui describes as decolonial ‘dreaming’ (2000). It is also the contribution of this thesis to assert that the works belong to a broader gathering of Indigenous Futurist theory and creativity in an international context. In the Australian context, prior work on the texts studied in this thesis has categorised them based on western genre categories and thematics. Studies from literary theory have not engaged meaningfully with the analytical and philosophical frameworks provided by Indigenous Futurist thought. In response, this dissertation undertakes a critique of how literary theory has related to Indigenous literatures demonstrates how the texts implement the narrative strategies and political principles of Indigenous Futurism. 3 This thesis engages with these four contemporary Indigenous texts about the near future as activist texts. It extends on the prior work of Indigenous Futurist scholars and practitioners globally to conduct an exploration of Indigenous Futurism as both critical political tool and a distinct artistic movement which is growing in Australia. The thesis finds that Indigenous Futurism is a political form of writing and creative expression which complicates western understandings of genre. It demonstrates that Indigenous Futurist texts present new ways of thinking about justice, war, queerness, racism, climate trauma, and the role of plants and non-human actors in decolonial projects and cultural revitalisation. The analysis of the works studied in this thesis reveals a deep engagement with the dual narratives of the progressive white nation state and the myth of linear progress. This thesis argues that the texts are methods for critical engagement in themselves. It uses key frameworks from Indigenous literary theory, such as Chadwick Allen’s ‘Trans-Indigenous’ and the emerging methodology of storywork to present an analysis of the texts which breaks away from the normative habits of western literary theory, and to claim them as Indigenous Futurist texts that exist in a growing international critical movement.
Sub-Saharan African Feminist Filmmaking: Feminism, Postcolonialism and Representation Issues
This thesis focuses on the representation of African women in African female filmmakers' films. It compares Western representations of the African female victim to representations produced by African female directors. It traces shifts between the cinematic representation of women and feminist issues. Unlike earlier films of the 1970s, which focussed on structural and cultural barriers facing women, today, neoliberal policies and global feminism see African women's issues being represented in more individualistic terms. Global feminism focuses on addressing and explaining "the challenges and choices globalization presents for women" and deals with issues such as women's reproductive and sexual health, well-being, education on the global scale, with an emphasis on human rights (Tong &Botts, 2018, p.134). The body, and issues of rape and domestic violence have come to dominate feminist agendas globally, and this inevitably affects feminist cinema in Africa. The thesis argues that when these issues are portrayed in graphic terms, they are detached from historical and socio-economic structures. This runs the risk of perpetuating Western feminism's victim myth which ignores the complexities of African women's daily lives.
Closing the distance. Identity and self-representation in the Japanese literature of three Korean writers in Japan: Kim Sok Pom, Lee Hoe Sung and Kim Ha Gyong.
The theme of cultural identity is topical in the academy and society at large but it is especially significant for the Korean diaspora in Japan. This thesis investigates the means by which Japan-based second-generation Korean novelists Kim Sok Pom, Lee Hoe Sung and Kim Ha Gyong characterize 'zainichi Korean identity' in six semi-autobiographical novels written in Japanese between 1957 and 1972. I argue that a close reading of The Death of the Crow (1957) and The Extraordinary Ghost Story of Mandogi (1971) by Kim Sok Pom, The Cloth Fuller (1971) and For Kayako (1970) by Lee Hoe Sung1, and Frozen Mouth (1966) and Delusions (1971) by Kim Ha Gyong allows for an in-depth understanding of the experiences of Koreans born in Japan before 1945 and the effects of racial oppression on minority identity formation. Specifically, I evaluate and compare the methods by which ethnicity and images of the self are articulated by these three writers in their creative fiction. The thesis argues that, despite the diversity of the views the three writers off er on ethnicity and cultural identity, a theme which they all share is how to overcome the problem of identity fragmentation - the problem of negotiating incongruous hybrid Japanese/Korean identities. Ambivalent experiences of belonging or dislocation, vis-a-vis both Japan and Korea proper, surface as a continual source of concern for second-generation zainichi Korean writers and their protagonists. How hybridity and difference are articulated as a lived experience by Kim Sok Pom, Lee Hoe Sung and Kim Ha Gyong is at the heart of this thesis. Their protagonists are Japanese-appearing Korean men, who move between the two worlds of Japanese and (zainichi) Korean culture, and search for a unified identity, or at least contemplate what such an identity might be. In effect, they attempt to 'close the distance' between competing and conflicting images of the self while at the same time pointing to a new politics of identity and sense of belonging, where diversity no longer suggests distance but the possibilities inherent in a truly inclusive society.
(Re)defining recovery: exploring poetry as a therapeutic tool in recovery from severe mood episodes and associated suicide attempts in bipolar disorder
The critical component of this thesis explores the value of poetry as a therapeutic tool in recovery from severe mood episodes and associated suicide attempts in individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Through literary analysis of Shira Erlichman’s Odes to Lithium and Jeanann Verlee’s Said the Manic to the Muse, I suggest that poetry allows a therapeutic space for dynamic reclamation of subjective narrative experiences of bipolar disorder from the medical discourse. Poetic devices such as personification and juxtaposition support the decentralisation of narrative in the subjective dialectic, thus creating scope for the productive tolerance of polarities, fragmentation and disorder. In doing so, poetry can facilitate emotional healing whilst eschewing redemptive narrative arcs. This provides valuable alternate readings and renderings of ‘recovery’ as part of an ongoing management of chronic mental illness which prioritises the experiential perspective, and thereby posits poetic process as a dynamic therapeutic tool in bipolar and attempted suicide contexts. The creative component of this thesis is a collection of poetry exploring my own recovery.
Urban media infrastructure and the (re)negotiation of public space
Over the past decade, governments and community organisations have increasingly employed urban media infrastructure, such as large screen and projection technology, to achieve digital placemaking ambitions and encourage public participation. Despite their growing popularity as part of urban renewal projects, questions remain about the efficacy of using urban media infrastructure to achieve placemaking and public engagement objectives. Some scholars are concerned with the displacing and alienating effect of screen technology in urban contexts, while others highlight the new participatory potential of this media. By adopting an ‘infrastructural’ lens, I examine the affordances and limitations of urban media infrastructure and argue for the specific conditions under which this infrastructure can make a positive contribution to the experience of public space. To support my argument, I present two case studies that describe the role of urban media infrastructure in suburban public spaces in Melbourne, Victoria. I have developed these case studies through a combination of policy analysis, fieldwork including observation and interviews, and visual analysis. These case studies demonstrate that the capacity for urban media infrastructure to contribute to digital placemaking objectives is contingent upon a range of other factors including the spatial setting, media literacy of citizens and community trust. Importantly, I argue that organisational governance and processes play an underrated role in the ability for organisations to realise the full potential of urban media infrastructure. A comparison of the two case studies demonstrates the importance of a strong vision, programming strategy and organisational flexibility in ensuring urban media infrastructure can support digital placemaking objectives and enable a new praxis of public participation.
Infrastructures and seams: complexity in Victorian creative industry spatial policy
The aim of this dissertation is to cast light on a phenomenon whereby logics informing Victorian state government investment in creative spaces are shifting in connection with increasingly complex policy conditions and relationships between creative producers and publics. I track the evolution of spatial and governance experimentation using a theoretical framework of complexity and critical vocabulary of infrastructure underpinned by practitioner-based perspectives and case study analysis. In doing so, I seek a greater understanding first of the relationships evoked, and spaces imagined, at government and sector registers, and second how these spaces are reconstituting different cultural communities. The main research questions for this dissertation are how creative spaces and infrastructures initiated by the state are changing in relation to policy conditions and user-driven feedback; how increasing recognition of space as a driver of creative industry policy is changing the relationships of governments and those working in creative industries; and how knowledge is transmitted within and between these groups. I call for more attention to the visible ‘seams’ of creative infrastructure - those moments of friction exposing omissions, flaws and leaks between boundaries – as an entry point to generatively form, foster and critique creative infrastructure by decentring extant power dynamics and so bring new relations and agendas into being. The first and second chapter of the dissertation introduce key ideas, sites and terms. I attempt to gain purchase on the progressively more complex territory Victorian cultural policy is called to govern in the third chapter, and contrast emerging spatial and material typologies at three scales – the unbuilt National Gallery of Victoria Contemporary, Collingwood Yards and Testing Grounds, the latter of which forms the primary case study for this dissertation. The fourth chapter situates these projects through a historicised investigation of two culture-led planning strategies, Melbourne City Council’s Creative Spaces program and the Victorian Government’s Melbourne Arts Precinct Blueprint. The fifth and sixth chapters focus on temporary art and design space Testing Grounds to unpack how knowledge is formed and transferred between public servants and cultural producers. First, I consider how creative infrastructure pilots are selected and evaluated within government frameworks. I then use the critical vocabulary of ‘infrastructuring’ to discuss infrastructure as an act of collective and productive making. The seventh chapter analyses creative infrastructure through the language of maintenance, repair and care to assay how built form can contribute to sustainable policy goals while triangulating new spaces of public encounter. I close by calling for a reformulation of public creative infrastructure situated in feedback attuned to currents of change and for more sophisticated tools for defining priorities, transferring knowledge and distributing resources.
Quality Telefantasy: How Quality TV incorporated telefantasy and launched into the mainstream
Quality Television is a genre that prioritises realism and cultural distinction. Since 2010, US Quality TV has increasingly incorporated fantastical elements such as magic, monsters and space travel. The central distinguishing feature of Quality Telefantasy is the presentation of fantastical elements in a realistic manner, as in Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Westworld and the Marvel/Netflix superhero series. The commercial and critical success of Quality Telefantasy has broadened popular taste cultures.
"These Moving Stones of France": The Cloisters Museum and the Movement of Medieval Architectural Heritage During the Twentieth Century
This thesis investigates the foundation and early development of The Cloisters museum in New York, from its genesis as a private museum maintained by the American sculptor George Grey Barnard in 1914, through to its foundation as a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and up to the present day. The evolution of The Cloisters design project is examined, from its inception in 1914 to its reopening in May 1938. This period witnessed a radical reconsideration of The Cloisters as it transformed itself from its initial model as a deliberately personal and evocative Gothic Revivalist museum to a modern public institution, founded on the latest developments in international museum design and education. Research focuses on archival documents which detail the formation of the collection and the museum and provide a more critical understanding of the transatlantic medieval art market during the early twentieth century. This study also considers the economic and cultural exchanges that enabled a unique opportunity for collecting and exporting large-scale medieval artworks out of Europe to the United States of America during the first decades of the twentieth century. This thesis is the first to focus on the ramifications that the international translocation of medieval artworks had on the legal protection of heritage in Europe. It also considers the resulting ethical debates conducted in both Europe and America regarding the purchase and transatlantic transference of medieval monumental complexes to the United States. An examination is undertaken on how the formation and expansion of this collection altered French heritage protection laws together with the architectural and museological discussions surrounding The Cloisters’ incorporation into the philanthropic programme of its institutional founder, John D Rockefeller Jr, and the more recent issues surrounding the ongoing role and identity of The Cloisters in the current museological environment.
Becoming Beat: Re-cognising the "Beat Generation" and the search for authenticity
The literary, cultural and historical phenomenon that is the "Beat Generation" is most well-known for its iconoclasm during the 1950s. Responding to Cold War America's conformist conceptions of selfhood and culture as not being "authentic", Beat enacted the countercultural function of organicising and lyricising the exploration of a self in crisis. While its initial notoriety as a group of licentious, nihilistic anti-intellectuals galvanised Beat's anti-establishment legacy, this thesis contends that these qualities of oppositionality by which Beat is most recognised today have not been properly analysed, and work to ossify later twentieth and twenty-first century readings and canonical constructions of Beat. This thesis sets out to recast Beat from a monolithically oppositional, mid-century "movement" to a living network and tradition of literary and cultural dissidence which resists definition or easy periodisation. Through an historical materialist approach,this thesis challenges the purity of the Beat canon and emphasises Beat as a fluid site of common and diverging antecedents, influences, and associations. Further, this thesis re-evaluates the oft-cited antagonism between "the Beats" and the mid-century liberal critics in order to underscore Beat's unique conceptions of the self and the search for authenticity as a process of becoming. Using the schema of "authenticating subjectivity", this thesis re-appraises Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems (1956), Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957), and William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch (1959) as each representing a different phase of the search for authenticity – one that moves from confrontation and ambivalence, to dualism and liminality, to a final dissolution of the notion of authenticity itself. By examining this canonical triumvirate as decentralised texts and key sites of transition in their respective authors' artistic development, this thesis seeks to complicate their long-held status as a defining model for critical and popular understandings of Beat. By demonstrating Beat as a becoming, this thesis reactivates Beat's complex and shifting terrain which is hypertextual, regenerative and mobile.
Reading the Vegetarian Vampire
The vampire of folklore, like its offspring in cinematic and literary productions and popular culture, is an undead creature of the night who drinks, by preference, human blood to survive. Not only is the vampire’s lust for human blood the source of their evil, it also informs the threat they pose: they want to feed on women, men and children. It is surprising therefore to find, in the first decade of the twenty-first century, the emergence in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight (2005) of the so-called ‘vegetarian’ vampire, who abstains from consuming human blood. The so-called ‘vegetarian’ vampire chooses to slake its thirst with animal or synthetic blood and/or to access human blood in ways that do not harm the human from which it is drawn. With this major revision of the vampire’s long-standing hunger as its primary focus, this thesis traces the rise of the vegetarian vampire in popular culture, while also exploring the changing significance of this creature’s diet, as seen in recent works of vampire television and literature: The Twilight Saga (2005-8), The Vampire Diaries (2009-17) and True Blood (2008-14), and the novels on which the second and third works are based: L.J Smith’s The Vampire Diaries (1991-3) and Charlaine Harris’ The Southern Vampire Mysteries (2001-13). It also considers Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (1976) and Joss Whedon’s television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1998-2003). I argue that, since the early years of the twenty-first century, the vegetarian or human-blood abstinent vampire has developed primarily in response to notions of environmental conservation, sustainability and greater ethical responsibility and care for other species—notions that reflects concerns raised by the Anthropocene, the geological age now upon us, which calls for creative ways of reimaging our interactions with nonhuman and inhuman species. In vampire fiction, these notions are most clearly evident in the vampire’s changing diet, which is to say on whom or what and how the vampire feeds. Adopting a theoretical position that is informed in large part by the modern practice, politics and ideologies of vegetarianism, I trace some of the ways in which contemporary vampire fiction explores the relationship between species and, in so doing, echoes the concerns and anxieties promoted by the Anthropocene. This thesis thus provides an original contribution to knowledge in three key areas. First, it provides an in-depth genre study of the history and development of the animal-blood diet in vampire fiction (still critically underacknowledged), which to the best of my knowledge has not previously been attempted in one over-arching study of this length, while also outlining how important the broader role of diet is to the genre. Second, it offers a new critical perspective by reading the vampire’s changing diet through a vegetarian lens. And third, by charting contemporary portrayals of vampiric consumption as a response to the Anthropocene, the thesis elucidates some of the ways that vampires in contemporary literature and television reflect growing concerns regarding how humans should live in our geological age.
Everyday Traces: Diasporic Hauntings and the Affectivity of Historical Trauma Among Cambodian-Australian Women
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.