School of Culture and Communication - Theses
Now showing items 1-12 of 475
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.
Catching Feelings: Affect, Life Writing and the Sociality of Women’s Illness
In “On Being Ill,” Virginia Woolf declared that illness is “the great confessional”; however, she believed this confessional impulse to be isolating, limiting the sufferer to their individual plight. Instead, this thesis argues that the contemporary scene of women’s illnesses is undeniably social. By foregrounding elements of contagion in this thesis, I examine both the infectious capacity of illness, particularly mental, psychosomatic and contested illnesses, and the contagious quality of personal experience in order to consider how movement and sensation become gendered and pathologised. Works in the contemporary genre of infectious autobiography (or autobiographical illness narrative), which include life writing by Sylvia Plath, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Barbara Browning, Chris Kraus, and Leslie Jamison, configure illness as an affective environment, composed and sustained through relation. This project thus asks to what extent ill affects necessitate a shared experience, delineating what I call the sociality of illness, and in what ways this sharing encourages a post-critical and reparative structuring of the relationship between reader and text. For disorders which are primarily understood in terms of their emotional effects, these illnesses raise questions: if a person’s emotional state can be contagious, what, then, of the illness which informs and inflects that state? Does sharing feeling with someone experiencing such an illness approximate or even equate to the illness itself? And, perhaps most crucially, can like feeling transmute into pure feeling?
Seeing feeling, feeling seen: a reparative poetics of youth mental health in graphic medicine
This creative writing thesis explores the theory and practice of developing a reparative poetics of youth mental health in graphic medicine. It pertains to the design and development of a series of comics for use in a suite of online youth mental health websites, developed in collaboration with an interdisciplinary research team at Orygen Youth Health. The structure of the thesis moves iteratively between critical readings of published comics that present lived experience of youth mental illness and wellbeing, and chapters that tell a narrative of the comics we produced and the stylistic choices we made in terms of representation, characterisation, setting, story and metaphor. Despite the highly collaborative, interdisciplinary context of the research, the thesis situates itself firmly within the discipline of creative writing.
Taiwan in Their Hands: cultural soft power and translocal identity making in the New York Taiwan Academy
In 2011, Kuomintang (KMT) President Ma Ying-jeou created the Taiwan Academies as a cultural exchange initiative to enhance Taiwan’s soft power and introduce Taiwan’s culture to the world, while also competing against China for space in the realm of competing notions of Chineseness internationally. Three Taiwan Academy resource centres were established that year in New York, Los Angeles, and Houston. This thesis presents a historical case study analysis of the Taiwan Academy resource centre in New York between 2012-2014, in order to examine the context of production of soft power discourse and the empirical consequences within a specific program, among a target audience. To this end, it examines soft power from the perspective of translocality, in order to uncover the often-overlooked socio-cultural, relational, and spatial aspects of cultural strategies aimed at generating soft power. This study responds to two central research questions. First: what kind(s) of cultural messages were being produced and exported to New York by Ma's administration in Taipei? Second: how were these messages translated, interpreted and received in practice, in their implementation at the New York Taiwan Academy? To address these, this research first re-conceptualises a de-Westernised, localised framework for interpreting cultural soft power discourse under Ma’s KMT administration. It then considers Taipei’s strategy of generating cultural soft power through Taiwan Academy from two perspectives: from “above”, in Taipei, and “below”, in New York. From “above”, it evaluates Taiwan Academy as a political strategy, in relation to relevant domestic, cross-Strait, and international contexts. From “below”, this study conducts a grounded analysis of two Taiwan Academy cultural programs and the translocal processes and practices that re-/defined the role of Taiwan Academy in New York. The conclusion integrates these two perspectives in order to address the dynamics and limits of Ma’s use of cultural soft power within the Taiwan Academy. In doing so, this thesis aims to explicate the contingent, relational, and inherently translocal nature of soft power practice.
The Historical Formation of Chinese Contemporary Art and the Socialist Legacy
The subject of this thesis is the period in China from the 1950s to the 1990s, during which “contemporary art” (dangdai yishu) gradually emerged. This is part of a complicated historical narrative centered on the state. Existing understandings of this tumultuous period have been complicated by the fact that modern and contemporary Chinese art history has largely been written by critics—active protagonists—who have naturally promoted particular accounts. The thesis proceeds through an analysis of key debates and initiatives by artists, art critics and art historians inside China, drawing on primary research and interviews. The contention of this thesis is that contemporary art is not only an integral part of the culture that developed under the auspices of the state, but that Chinese contemporary art itself completely embodies the complexity and paradoxes of state culture.
“Difficult Objects”: Ideas of Disorder in the Poetry of Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens’ poetry is full of objects. These include a jar, some rocks, thirteen blackbirds, coffee and oranges, ice-cream, umbrellas, chocolate, pots and pans, flowers and fruits, a glass of water, rainbows, lions, chickens, tables, bowls, statues, boats, a turban, a monocle and a blue guitar. Yet there are few studies that inquire into the complexity, diversity or specificity of Stevens’ objects in themselves. Instead, the critical tendency is to view them as either fictional and abstract, or the inaccessible things of an inhuman reality. This thesis addresses this lacuna by attending to the peculiar difficulty immanent to certain of Stevens’ objects: the jar, trash, a pineapple and the rock. These objects, I argue, are difficult because they resist and exceed the taxonomies that we commonly apply to textual objects, in particular the conceptual dualisms between text and object, thing and idea, and matter and meaning. Far from conforming to the reality-imagination binary by which they have typically been understood, this thesis argues that they perform alternative ideas of order and even dis-order, each in a different but exemplary way: the jar comprises an indeterminate materiality that reorganises the difference between ideas and things; trash undermines the systems of value by which we not only make meaning but identify what it is to be human; putting a pineapple together undoes transcendental and representational poetics; the rock stages a recalcitrant margin from which meaning and matter emerge already entangled. These objects are Stevens’ unique responses to the modernist preoccupation with objects in that they experiment with reorientating W. C. Williams’ famous dictum: “no ideas but in things.” Because they call into question the categorical difference between the objective world and the text, whilst simultaneously resisting the collapse or flattening of this division, Steven’s objects are also examples of that difficult intersection between text and object that continues to cause problems for both new materialist and poetic ontologies. The aim of this thesis is not to resolve the difficulty of these objects but instead to pay attention to it, to the entanglements, infractions and free play that this difficulty articulates, and to the disorientations of the poetic object more generally. In this way, the thesis demonstrates the absolute importance of objects to poetry. It thereby contributes to the recent turn in critical theory towards the study of theoretical materialism, to the poetics of objects, and to our understanding of Stevens.
Lives and Afterlives: The print collection of Elizabeth Seymour Percy, 1st Duchess of Northumberland (1716-1776)
Prints formed a sizeable part of the diverse collections assembled by English collector, Elizabeth Seymour Percy, the 1st Duchess of Northumberland (1716-1776). Her print collection was dispersed at auction in 1951 and nine of her print albums — containing engravings predominantly by Flemish sixteenth-century printmaker/publishers, the Sadeler family — are now housed at the University of Melbourne, Australia. The duchess’s journals, notebooks, and her hand-written collection inventories also survive in the Archives of the Duke of Northumberland at Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, England. These documents record the duchess’s acquisition, arrangement, and cataloguing of her print collection, and refer to the albums now in Melbourne. Remarkably, there have been no previous in-depth studies of the duchess’s print collecting based on these rich archival records, and few analyses that focus on extant prints and albums from her collection. This research is about the intersection of two sources of evidence — textual and material — and what these sources reveal about the actions and intentions of the duchess as a print collector: how she identified, acquired, assembled, and catalogued her collection. Early chapters examine archival records to investigate the duchess’s engagement with the eighteenth-century print market and her print acquisition activities. Next, her methods and motivations for the assembly and categorisation of her print albums are examined through physical analysis of two print albums in Melbourne, and through tracing the development of her print categorisation schema in notebooks and her print inventories. Drawing on auction catalogues and dealer records, her prints and albums are then studied as objects of cultural commerce in the twentieth century. The final chapter considers the complex meanings evoked when some of the duchess’s prints were transformed into statuary. The trajectory of the duchess’s prints and albums over time — their ‘lives’ and ‘afterlives’ — is the framework of this study. This study asks: what does archival evidence reveal about the duchess’s acquisition and categorisation of prints in the eighteenth century? How do the material features of the duchess’s albums in Melbourne help us understand the acquisition, assembly, and categorisation of her print collection? Why were some of the duchess’s prints translated into other creative forms?
A Gothic vision: the architectural patronage of Bishop James Goold in colonial Victoria
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.
The Secret Object of Sacrifice after Luce Irigaray
This thesis studies the concept of “new sacrifice” in the work of Luce Irigaray. According to Irigaray, the patriarchal order is founded on the masculine subject’s hidden sacrifice of the woman-object—the secret object of sacrifice. She proposes that the emergence of a new sacrificial order requires the formation of a new sociality and economy, one which sacrifices the patriarchal order and in turn allows for the cultivation of the feminine. Critics argue that Irigaray’s vision is utopian and that she does not clarify the way in which a new sacrificial—theorists also use the word “nonsacrificial,” however for this thesis I use Irigaray’s own phrase “new sacrifice”—order may emerge. I argue that Irigaray’s account of a new sacrificial process of becoming occurs through a mystical encounter with abjection, where the object becomes (a new kind of) subject. To support this argument I turn to Kristeva’s theory of abjection, and Moten’s theory of Blackness in the preliminary chapters of this thesis. The differences and similarities between the work of these theorists and that of Irigaray allow me to identify a latency in Irigaray’s work in regard to the secret object of sacrifice, its transformation, and the emergence of a new sacrificial order. After comparing philosophical texts, I apply the theory I have developed to literature and film texts.