School of Culture and Communication - Theses
Now showing items 1-12 of 483
(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.
The challenges of valuing culture in Australia, and the role of symbiosis in understanding cultural interactions
This research examines the conditions and narratives that surround cultural value, particularly within the fields of cultural diplomacy, cultural policy and the arts. These conditions and narratives are situated within the context of knowledge or innovation-based societies where, over the past two decades, a rise in cultural value discourse has occurred. Knowledge-based societies also feature post-industrial economies and, therefore, in this thesis, the tendency to value culture in terms of economics is of particular significance. In Australia, this is evident across various municipal levels, from local councils to the federal government. Through a series of case studies encompassing the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the City of Melbourne and a federal policy proposal for a National Programme for Excellence in the Arts, I argue a common approach to the valuation of culture is evident, and is one that is rooted in instrumentalisation—or what Yudice characterises as expediency, where ‘culture-as-resource’ is a means to an end. However, this narrow scope limits the possibility to understand more about the different types of value that culture (such as the arts) can have, particularly when it comes to aesthetic exploration of new knowledges, global networks and relationships. To explore alternative considerations of what value culture can offer to both societies and people alike, I consider European theatre collective Rimini Protokoll’s ability to display the culture of nations in their touring performance of 100% City. Here, another realisation of the value of culture is discernible. In political terms, this is cultural value that resides outside the typical state-to-public facilitation of public diplomacy and rests on a people-to-people mode of communication. As a result, I argue that the current, utilitarian vocabulary surrounding the value of culture should be expanded and developed further to reflect its operation today in the age of global networks and relationships. Such an expansion incorporates a symbiotic consideration of the interactions that occur over the course of cultural relationships and counterbalances the over-reliance on economic and political factors and evaluations. My proposal serves to further refine understandings of ‘the cultural’ within the discourse of cultural value. To do so, I draw upon the biological understanding of relationships, referred to as symbiosis, to study how cultural value is understood amongst the private and public sector actors across three key dimensions: the economic, the political and the social. As a result, I propose cultural symbiosis as a conceptual metaphor that assists in the articulation of the more complex and multifaceted relations that cultural activity can generate. This conceptualisation provides the basis for an approach that better articulates the relations of cultural activity and one that extends the neoliberal vocabulary currently used to describe culture and the discourse of cultural value.
The Matter of Absence: Female Disembodiment and Digital Cinema
This dissertation finds the female body present even where it appears to be absent. It tracks the gesture prevalent in contemporary science fiction cinema to attenuate the female body through digitisation, and responds by turning to the materiality of the film itself. In so doing, the dissertation extends phenomenological film theory at a feminist slant, posing that the film’s body may support, or even be particularly suited to, female expression. It asks how the film text can reflect, inflect and invoke the female body that it depicts. The dissertation’s proposed synergy between depicted and filmic bodies is innate insofar as the figures at hand share their films’ make-up. Since the millennium, the digital format has become increasingly commonplace, and the cinema subject to the attendant charge that it, too, has lost its body. I draw out this similarity between the depicted female body and the film’s digital body to illustrate how we might grasp the presence of one through the other, thereby rescuing both from assumptions of absence. Through a focus on the features of hybridity, hapticity, error and diffusion, this dissertation recovers the digital’s material residue for ends that are jointly feminist and cinephilic.
Conceptual metaphor for COVID-19 in Australian newspapers
It is important to understand how news sources communicate information about pandemics to the public, and a central aspect of news is the use of metaphors. This study analyses cognitive frames and conceptual domains that metaphorically characterise COVID-19 as a concrete reality for the masses. Data were drawn from a corpus of Australian newspapers in the online Coronavirus Corpus (n.d.). Data were filtered, edited, and classified into three cohorts of corpora, each targeting one of three keywords: coronavirus, COVID-19, and virus. Through the KWIC tool and concordances in the cohorts, metaphoric linguistic expressions (MLEs) were identified. The textual analysis showed spreading and moving were the most common MLEs, followed by impede, force, drive, fight, and battle. The contextual analysis of the MLEs helped identify conceptual metaphors, such as COVID AS A MOVING ENTITY, COVID AS A WAVE, and COVID AS A KILLER. Based on the conceptual coherence between conceptual metaphors, four cognitive domains were classified: COVID AS A LIVING BEING, COVID AS A TSUNAMI, COVID AS A CRIMINAL, and COVID AS AN ENEMY. The findings differ slightly from previous research that found the WAR domain was a dominant source domain for disease metaphors, and many framing options for COVID-19 were used in Australian newspaper discourse. More research is required to better understand the representation of COVID-19 in media discourse to improve the government and public response.
The construction of mediated debates: a study of corruption discourse in democratising Indonesia
This study examines the structure of mediated discourse and the way in which the media facilitated public engagement for those mediated debates, setting the thematic parameter of the corruption case within the public sphere. The unfolding of this corruption case constituted one of the drivers for Indonesia’s democratic transformation, the results of which illuminate the discursive mechanisms of the specific process of how this case was brought into public discourse. Two methods are applied in this study: (1), an analysis of ‘intertextual’ relations across different media platforms which construct the larger discursive ‘markers’ of the scandal. These discursive markers then reveal the scope of the interwoven mediated debates within Indonesia’s public sphere. (2), a Critical Discourse Analysis which illuminates the discursive mechanisms of the specific process of how this case was brought into public discourse. This empirical study has identified the thematic debates of national online news sites, which were interconnected by shared discursive markers, functioning as a ‘node’ of public discourse within the public sphere. The specific discursive mechanism, through which the media brought the case into the public discourse, was the method of ‘intertextual’ relations within the different media forms in order to create the ‘web’ of common thematic debates.