Professor Jacky Bratton on Jane Scott, The Lost Amazon of the Strand

Jane Scott, The Lost Amazon of the Strand

Thursday 14th February, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

202 years ago in February 1817 Jane Scott’s gothic melodrama Camilla the Amazon was staged, at her own theatre in London’s Strand, the Sans Pareil – a house that four years later became the Adelphi, and is still in business. In the same year her contemporary, the other Jane –  Jane Austen –  published her comically gothic work, Northanger Abbey. Why does the world not know that Jane Scott came first? Austen was a quiet, middle-class spinster living in Hampshire, unknown in her own lifetime; Scott was a successful London entrepreneur, an actress and a theatre manager as well as a prolific writer. Her theatre is a foundation stone of the modern West End.

I launched this paradox in an article called “Genius comes in all disguises” twenty years ago. Little happened. Then the cause of the actress/manager was taken up by Gilli Bush-Bailey, and together we have written and talked and taught students about her ironic melodramas, her groundbreaking contemporary comedies, the manic edge of her burlesques, and the way in which her works anticipate and have been waiting for post-modern understanding of the pre-Victorian. In 2017 Scott’s comedy Whackham and Windham received its first professional outing for 200 years. Maybe her time has come.

This lecture will present a whistle-stop tour of Jane’s life and work, her extraordinary energy and creativity and the many new things she brought to writing for the popular stage.

Jacky Bratton is Professor Emerita of the University of London and an Honorary Fellow of Royal Holloway, University of London. Her most recent books are The Making of the West End Stage, New Readings in Theatre History and The Victorian Clown, all published by Cambridge University Press. She is still tying up the ends of a career-long preoccupation with the cultural worlds of the nineteenth century, especially those below the radar of ‘the legitimate’, and the high cultural waterline that has succeeded that old definition of what is respectable. Her subjects have mostly been women and children, and often not respectable at all.

Kathryn Hind, ‘Ugly Feelings and Passivity in Tallent & Enright’

 

Ugly feelings and passivity in the novels of Gabriel Tallent and Anne Enright

Thursday 7 February, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

Kathryn Hind completed her undergrad with Honours at the University of Canberra, where her thesis was a multimedia piece on reading as construction. In 2013, she completed a Masters in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, UK. She began her first novel, Hitch, while on the course, and it will be published in June this year by Penguin Random House. Along with publication in Australian literary journals and some short story prize wins and short-listings, Kathryn has a poem published on an ACTION bus.

CuSPP Writing Group

Join the CuSPP Writing Group on Mondays and Fridays, 10-12

A.D. Hope Common Room 113

Bring along the hot drink and research project of your choice for some friendly, Pomodoro-style writing sessions.

Contact: gemma.king@anu.edu.au

 

Barbara Holloway on the Anthropo-scenes

Join us for this week’s CuSPP seminar:

Creating A Place Among the Anthropo-scenes

Thursday 25 October, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

For Indian writer Amitav Ghosh, the world is in the grip of a ‘Great Derangement’: human inaction in the knowledge of great, avoidable danger. This ‘danger’ manifests in several forms, but I am interested in the changes to environment and climate. To engage effectively with these, environmental and agricultural scientists call for a cultural turn to familiarity with the immediate natural world. At the same time, Ghosh predicts that future generations will hold writers and artists, as well as politicians, responsible for the inertia that characterizes derangement.

Ghosh’s and the scientists’ challenge invites experimentation; the relationship between place, culture and the material world is already one of the liveliest areas of inquiry in the humanities. In this paper I take a universal —the winds—and make them local. I focus on local place-writing and on the interplay of the natural world, language and experience, drawing on philosopher Edward S. Casey’s phenomenological and ethnographic approach to language as the expression of ‘intimate relationship between embodiment and emplacement, phenomena and culture’.

Barbara Holloway is a Visiting Fellow in SLLL. She researches and publishes across Australian literary history, place-making and environmental cultural studies in both critical and creative formats. Her most recent publication, ‘The Undead of Australian Forests’, appeared in ‘Land Dialogues,’ a special issue of Fusion, 2017.

 

Belle Joseph ‘Beyond Words’

Join us for this week’s CuSPP seminar:

Beyond Words? Trauma in Literature from the Concentration Camps

Thursday 25 October, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

Cathy Caruth’s studies on trauma and literature, especially her seminal 1996 work, Unclaimed Experience, laid much of the groundwork of literary trauma theory. Caruth labelled trauma ‘the unexperienced event’. Direct knowledge of the traumatic experience, according to Caruth, is impossible; the ‘threat of death’ is never truly confronted by the victim at the time, and can only be approached subsequently and in an imperfect manner.

The question of psychic trauma in literature is of particular relevance when it comes to memoirs and other writings by those who survived the concentration camps, the scene of what have become in the collective memory the archetypal traumatic events of the 20th century. Yet to date, the considerable body of writings produced by concentration camp prisoners during their internment has been largely overlooked in debates on trauma in literature. By looking at writings from the camps by French prisoners and others, including the contemporary Sonderkommando testimonies, I will show that far from manifesting the victims’ incapacity to come to terms with what they are experiencing, these texts are evidence of the authors’ genuine engagement with the harrowing realities of internment and with the proximity of death. Traditional literary strategies, including lyricism, aesthetic imagery, and metaphor, are used to confront and interpret the traumatic events experienced. Reading these texts compels us to come up with a more nuanced model of how profound psychic trauma might find voice in literary texts at the very moments in which the traumatic events are experienced.

Dr Belle Joseph is a Sessional Lecturer in the French program in SLLL. She was awarded her PhD in French in 2017 for a thesis investigating the poetry written by French prisoners in concentration camps during the Second World War. She has a research article forthcoming in the Australian Journal of French Studies.

Russell Smith: the dead pan

Join us for this week’s CuSPP seminar:

The dead pan: Nathanael West’s unfunny jokes and modernist anti-sentimentalism

Thursday 18 October, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

Though Nathanael West’s novels are often read in terms of an ancient and revered mode of misanthropic humour—satire—in this paper I want to draw on recent work that seeks to situate his work in relation to distinctly modern comic modes—slapstick, burlesque, black humour, and especially, dead pan. In Miss Lonelyhearts (1933), we read of the constantly-joking newspaper editor Shrike:

Although his gestures were elaborate, his face was blank. He practiced a trick much used by moving-picture comedians—the dead pan. No matter how fantastic or excited his speech, he never changed his expression. Under the shining white globe of his brow, his features huddled together in a dead, gray triangle.

Drawing on Michael North’s Machine-Age Comedy, and recent readings of West by Jonathan Greenberg and Justus Nieland, I want to draw out the inhuman aspects of West’s anti-sentimental modernist comedy. In particular, where for other modernists the mechanical aspects of human behaviour are a source of comedy, and laughter itself the most mechanical of human behaviours, West’s ‘strange and unfunny jokes’ (as he called them) depict these human mechanisms of collective emotion in breakdown, pulling out the rug of sensus communis on which satirical humour traditionally rests. The result is a comedy which may not, in fact, be funny.

Russell Smith is a Lecturer in English in SLLL. This paper will be presented later this month at the annual conference of the Australasian Modernist Studies Network on the theme of Modernist Comedy and Humour.

Upcoming HRC event: Scientists in Australian Fiction

 

Conversations Across the Creek is an initiative by the Humanities Research Centre (HRC) and the Research School of Chemistry (RSC) to provide a space for continuing dialogue among scientists, social scientists, and humanities scholars. Meetings are held monthly, with the aim of stimulating and unearthing research and teaching collaborations across the university.

Join us for the fourth Conversation for 2018, where three diverse scholars ‘cross’ Sullivan’s Creek, presenting on their latest research. The topic of this event is Creators of Culture: Scientists in Australian Fiction.

The speakers will explore the representations and dynamics of scientists in Australian fiction, and why they matter. Special guest: Peter Goldsworthy AM, award-winning poet and writer. There will also be a glassblowing performance by Mark Eliott. This event is free to attend but registration is esssential. Register now!

Monique Rooney, ‘Only Mediate’

Join us for this week’s CuSPP seminar:

Only Mediate: The Mere Interest of Interbrow in Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret (2011) and Howards End (2017)

Thursday 11 October, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

‘Only connect’ functions both as the epigraph to E. M. Forster’s Howards End (1910) and as the central character Margaret Schlegel’s exhortation to her husband, capitalist entrepreneur Henry Wilcox. With her exasperated ‘only connect’, Margaret means for Henry to recognise that his refusal of hospitality and condemnation of the actions of others involve blindness to his own culpability in the tragic events that have unfolded. Signalling potential hospitality in any given situation, ‘only connect’ is here a means to an altruistic end. This paper repurposes ‘only connect’ as ‘only mediate’ in order to think about bourgeois conduct underpinning middlebrow narrative, interpersonal mediation and the role of intermedia in Kenneth Lonergan’s film and television work. The television miniseries Howards End (2017, screenwriter Lonergan, director Hettie McDonald) and the film Margaret (2011, director and screenwriter Lonergan) are coming-of-age narratives in which tragic storylines pivot on the actions of young, middle-class women who insert themselves into the lives of other people. This female, bourgeois mediation can, moreover, be understood in terms of the capitalist-media environment in which both Howards End and Margaret were produced.

My coinage ‘interbrow’—crossing ‘middlebrow’ with ‘intermedia’—points to my interest in the role and significance of contemporary media in the context of bourgeois concern, with further reference to what Sianne Ngai calls ‘mere interest’. ‘Mere interest’ is a weaker or cooler version of the curious that, for Ngai, corresponds to the circulation of the artwork within a bourgeois public sphere and among late capitalist networks of production, distribution, commodification and consumption. In this context, ‘mere interest’ gestures to our aesthetic proclivities, judgements and actions as they hyperconnect, enmeshed within distributive networks. This paper considers the transformative possibilities and limits of ‘mere interest’ as a will to ‘only mediate’, investigating the interbrow of Lonergan’s productions and their portrayal of a feminine drive toward resolution for selves and others.

Monique Rooney is a senior lecturer in the English Program, School of Literature, Languages and Literature ANU. Her book Living Screens: Melodrama and Plasticity in Contemporary Film and Television (2015) explores the far-reaching legacy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s ur-melodrama Pygmalion as a form that is essentially about mediation and metamorphosis. She has published on the role and significance of intermedia in Angelaki and New Review of Film and Television Studies and her essay on melodrama is forthcoming in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia.

Gemma King on Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival

Join us for this week’s CuSPP seminar:

Denis Villeneuve’s multilingual cinema: Decentring space, time and language in Arrival

Thursday 4 October, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

With dialogue in Arabic, English, Finnish, French, Hungarian, Japanese, Mandarin, Norwegian, Russian, Somali, Spanish and even extraterrestrial languages, Québécois filmmaker Denis Villeneuve’s cinema revolves around language. From 2010’s trilingual Incendies to 2017’s heptalingual Blade Runner 2049, Villeneuve’s films increasingly feature protagonists who not only speak multiple languages, but use multilingualism to exert social power. In these films, lingua francas like English and French remain essential, but it is the ability to manipulate peripheral and even marginalised languages that is key to unlocking oppressive structures and shifting power dynamics within them.

This talk analyses Denis Villeneuve’s multilingual, transnational cinema, in which characters not only understand multiple languages, but deploy them strategically. Drawing on Bill Marshall’s vision of cinema and nation in Quebec National Cinema as a ‘very mobile spiral’ (2000: 3), it charts the progressive decentring at play in Villeneuve’s 2016 quadrilingual film, Arrival.

Gemma King is a Lecturer in French at the ANU. Her research explores language, power and cultural representation in contemporary French, Francophone and transnational cinemas. Her first book Decentring France: Multilingualism and Power in Contemporary French Cinema was published with Manchester University Press in 2017, and her work has also appeared in Contemporary French Civilization, French Cultural Studies, The Australian Journal of French Studies, The Conversation and Francosphères. She is currently working on the book Jacques Audiard for the Manchester French Film Directors series.