Zack Karpinellison on Starstruck: Old Sydney vs New Canberra

Zach Karpinellison, “Starstruck: Old Sydney via New Canberra”

Thursday 27 October, 4.30-6pm, A. D. Hope G28; online (contact

In this work-in-progress paper, I am arguing that the National Film and Sound Archive’s restoration of Gillian Armstrong’s 1982 musical Starstruck led to the creation of a new version of the film which functioned to erase and unmake the original. In this seminar, I will look at some of the differences between the restored and unrestored versions of Starstruck. These differences provoke questions about nostalgia, authorial intervention, and national memory. In particular, I will draw attention to the way that the restored version of the film anchors itself to the American cut, and I will consider how this affects cultural and social perception of Australianness in relation to this obscure Sydney-based musical.

Zach Karpinellison is a second-year PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Cross-Cultural Research program at ANU. His work takes place at the intersection between screen and museum studies, and the subject of his research is the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

Wannes Dupont on “Pinks, Reds and Post-war Blues”

Wannes Dupont (NUS Yale Singapore), “Pinks, Reds and Post-war Blues: Homosexuality and Global Institutions in the Early Cold War Era”

Thursday 3 November, 12.30-1.30 pm, A. D. Hope G28; online (contact

Today, as pluralism and the civil integration of sexual minorities have become hallmarks of Western countries’ liberal identity, we must recall that the opposite was the case when the notion of ‘the West’ emerged out of the ruins of World War II. During the 1940s and -50s, North America was in the grip of simultaneous ‘Red’ and ‘Lavender’ scares that involved the active persecution of communists and queers at scale. These scares reflected the need for moral restoration after a period of drastic social changes. This talk addresses how Europe also saw an unprecedented wave of homophobia between 1945 and 1965. It demonstrates how local dynamics resonated with transnationally circulating concerns to bolster a widespread fear of ‘homosexual seduction’. During the long 1950s, however, growing international cooperation in the lap of the newly founded United Nations and organisations like Interpol also paved the way for homosexuality’s (partial) decriminalisation during the 1960s and the 1970s.

Wannes Dupont is currently Assistant Professor of History at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, but will become a Lecturer in the History of Sexuality at the University of Edinburgh come January. He previously conducted research as a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University and as a postdoctoral fellow of the Flemish Research Foundation at the University of Antwerp. His research focuses on the European and global sexual past, queer history, reproductive politics, and the intersections of biopolitics and religion.

This seminar is funded courtesy of the Research School of Humanities and the Arts Visiting Fellows scheme

John Flower (University of Kent), “Some Thoughts on the Present State of the French Novel”

John Flower (University of Kent), “Some thoughts on the present state of the French novel”

Thursday 13 October, 4.30-6pm, A. D. Hope G28

With nearly 600 new novels published every year, to talk of recurrent themes or preoccupations in recent years is at best hazardous if not a waste of time. There is the usual cry that the vast sprawling novels of the nineteenth century and the masterpieces of the twentieth requiring the reader’s time and patience are still to be regretted, and that the impact of the visual—notably television and the comic strip—has encouraged a taste for instant consumption. That various aspects of contemporary politics and society have drawn novelists’ attention is clear; at the same time well-established concerns such as the Occupation or memory and history or the role of women, for example, continue to inspire some writers and satisfy their editor’s commercial ambitions.

Prof John Flower is Emeritus Professor of French at the University of Kent.  He has held professorial posts at Exeter UK and in France at Paris X-Nanterre and Bordeaux. He has published extensively on French literature, culture and politics since the early twentieth century, notably on the work of François Mauriac. He was founding editor of the Journal of European Studies and until 2021 its general editor.

COVID safe event: Social distancing / masks mandatory / COVID safety officer

Online: Zoom Meeting ID: 861 8419 0389 / Password: 2022

Maureen Gallagher on Decolonial Gazing and Hermeneutic Resistance

Thursday 6 October, 4.30-6pm, A. D. Hope G28

“Decolonial Gazing and Hermeneutic Resistance: Black German Challenges to White German Cultural Hegemony in the Museum”

This work in progress essay highlights the ways that Black Europeans, in this case in the German context, challenge universalizing notions of cultural heritage to highlight decolonial possibilities and interrogate the collection, display, and spectatorship of museum objects in majority-white contexts. I use the Berlin Ethnological museum in its former and current iterations as a representative example of debates about collecting and looking at museums, showing how thinkers like Fatima El-Tayeb and Kum’a Ndumbe III and initiatives like No Humboldt21! offer challenges to universalizing discourses and reflect the gaze back on whiteness. Finally, I offer a reading of a literary challenge to this universalism in Sharon Dodua Otoo’s 2021 novel Adas Raum (Ada’s Realm).

Maureen Gallagher is a lecturer in German Studies at ANU. She holds a PhD in German Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is currently working on a book manuscript on whiteness in Wilhelmine German youth literature and culture based on her dissertation. Her research and teaching interests include race and gender in German colonial literature, Black German Studies, connections between German Studies and Indigenous Studies, and inclusive, anti-racist and decolonial teaching practices.

COVID safe event: Social distancing / masks mandatory / COVID safety officer

Online: Zoom Meeting ID: 861 8419 0389 / Password: 2022

Lauren Goodlad (Rutgers University) on “The Lifecycle of Writing Subjects.”

Join us for this special CuSPP Seminar, featuring Lauren Goodlad (Rutgers University)

Thursday 13 October 10:00-11:30am (AEST), ZOOM ONLY

“The Lifecycle of Writing Subjects: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Large Language Models” 

This paper uncovers the “realities” of AI with an emphasis on the machine learning technologies that drive the new surveillance economy and its characteristic structures, social relations, and onto-epistemological conditions of possibility. I dwell on large language models (LLMs) because these systems for generating human-like text are the subject of heightening commercialization and debate, and I discuss them in relation to Ted Chiang’s The Lifecycle of Software Objects (2010). Though this novella follows a long line of fictional works that render “AI” in terms of an anthropomorphised technology that does not exist, its near-future storyworld is nonetheless illuminating of today’s data-driven systems for prediction and optimization, and their relation to the material conditions and “lifecycle” of writing subjects.

Lauren M.E. Goodlad is Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Rutgers, New Brunswick. She is the chair of Critical AI @ Rutgers and the editor-in-chief of Critical AI, an interdisciplinary journal published by Duke UP that will be launched in 2023. Goodlad’s work on language models overlaps with a new project, Genres that Matter: The Ontological Work of Nineteenth-Century Fiction, and a recent (December 2020) co-edited special issue of MLQ, What Is and Isn’t Changing: Critique after Postcritique. She is the lead US PI for an NEH-funded international collaboration between Rutgers and ANU which has centered on data ethics and data ontologies.

ANU COVID Safe event: social distancing, masks mandatory, COVID safety officer.

Online: Zoom meeting ID 8619 8419 0389, Password 2022

Monique Rooney on Malabou’s Anarchy and Varda’s Sans Toit ni Loi (1985)

Join us for the next CuSPP Seminar (taking place via zoom)

Thursday 25 August 2022, 5.00pm – 6.30pm (Please note that this seminar is beginning at the later than normal time of 5pm; please note also that this seminar is taking place via zoom ONLY; please contact for the link and password).

The Pleasure of Self-Erasure: Catherine Malabou, (Sexual) Anarchy and Agnès Varda’s Sans Toi ni Loi (1985)

Adventures and solitude of a young vagabond (neither withdrawn nor talkative), told by those who had crossed her path, that winter in the South of France. But can one render silence, or capture freedom?

The film wanders between Mona and the others. We glimpse their lives, and then move on. I really liked all the characters in this story, here and there, like small “figures” in a winter landscape, where, coming toward us, walking, is a rebellious girl. (Agnès Varda, “Publicité,” quoted in Sandy Flitterman-Lewis, To Desire Differently 285-6).

This work-in-progress paper reads Agnès Varda’s Sans Toit ni Loi (meaning “without roof or law”) through the lens of Catherine Malabou’s conceptualisation of anarchy as order without command or beginning (“Politics of Plasticity: Cooperation without Chains,” 2021, and Pleasure Erased: The Clitoris Unthought, 2022). I elucidate key elements of Malabou’s anarchy and, in particular, I highlight her argument that the clitoris (a “little pebble” or “scruple”) is a symbol of sexual anarchy. The paper also draws on Rebecca J. DeRoo’s argument that Varda cultivated “strategic naivety,” with her public presentation of her apparently artless relation to cinema history enabling her negotiation of, and survival within, a male-dominated industry. DeRoo also highlights the disruptive role that non-cinematic works, including Renaissance painting and vernacular photography, play in Varda’s films. My paper suggests that it is the intermedial role of photography and ancient myth that meaningfully punctuate both Sans Toit ni Loi’s montage and narrative. My paper ultimately suggests that the female film-maker partially occludes the anarchic (“wandering”) nature of film itself, training its attention instead on the image of the “rebellious girl” that is Mona Bergeron (Sandrine Bonnaire).

Monique Rooney teaches literature, film, television and new media in the English program, School of Literature, Languages and Literatures (ANU). The author of Living Screens: Melodrama and Plasticity in Contemporary Film and Television (2015), she is currently writing a book titled Brow Network: Programs and Promises. The plan is that this paper’s reading of anarchy in Varda will be published as part of a collection of essays on Malabou in an upcoming special issue of Film-Philosophy.

Derek Allan, “The Very Idea of Art”

Join us for the next CuSPP Seminar (taking place via zoom)

Thursday 28 July, 2022, 4.30 – 6pm.

The Very Idea of Art

Donald Preziosi, an influential modern voice in art history, argues that his discipline has proved ‘particularly effective in naturalizing and validating the very idea of art as a “universal” human phenomenon’. If this claim is true, it would mean, in my view, that art history has done a serious disservice to our modern understanding of art. For as the French art theorist, André Malraux, points out, the idea of art is definitely not a universal human phenomenon, there being ample evidence that the vast majority of cultures throughout history, have not regarded their painting, sculpture, poetry, and music as ‘art’.

Today, of course, we willingly regard many works from non-European and early cultures as art and welcome them into art museums, but this is a recent development, barely more than a century old. This paper examines certain major issues arising from this situation, including: when and why the idea of art arose; the radical change in the word’s meaning that occurred after Manet; how this change led to the inclusion of many non-European and ancient works in our modern world of art; and the inadequate responses to these developments by modern philosophers of art and art historians.

Dr Derek Allan is a Visiting Fellow in the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics at the Australian National University. His principal research interests are the theory of art and literature, European literature, and visual art. Derek’s publications cover figures such as Dostoyevsky, Laclos, Goya and the twentieth-century art theorist and novelist, André Malraux. His most recent publication is a book entitled André Malraux and Art: An Intellectual Revolution. It is also available in French.

ANU COVID safe event: Social distancing / masks mandatory / COVID safety officer

Online: Zoom Meeting ID: 861 8419 0389 / Password: 2022

Amy Walters (Thesis Proposal Review) on Maggie O’Farrell’s Fiction

Unstable Ground: Tracing a Gothic Lineage in Maggie O’Farrell’s Fiction

Since her debut in 2000, British author Maggie O’Farrell has published eight novels and one memoir, achieving consistent commercial success and several major awards, culminating in the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction. Despite such recognition, O’Farrell remains under-critiqued in both scholarship and non-academic literary criticism. Critics have particularly neglected O’Farrell’s extensive engagement with the Gothic tradition and have consequently both underestimated her feminist concerns and misinterpreted her signature atmosphere of haunting as psychological suspense, rather than as a Gothic trope intimating a species of knowledge at the borders of the tangible and the supernatural.

In this TPR presentation, I question how O’Farrell is situated in the post-millennial British literary landscape, drawing on both the small body of academic scholarship pertaining to her, and her non-academic reception. I then present an overview of my research to date, arguing for a reconsideration of her fiction in light of the Gothic tradition, focusing on how she reinvigorates tropes associated with the Female Gothic, and how her consistent use of the discourse of haunting relates to both her preoccupation with mortality, and the Gothic’s historic formation in opposition to the enlightenment’s discourse of rationality. I also provide an overview of my proposed thesis structure, methodology and timeframes.

Amy Walters is a PhD candidate in English Literature at the ANU and has been passionate about Maggie O’Farrell’s work since discovering it a decade and a half ago at the age of sixteen. She is also a writer and critic, and her work has been published in the Canberra Times, Kill Your Darlings, Meanjin and The Saturday Paper among other places.

ANU COVID safe event: Social distancing / masks mandatory / COVID safety officer

Online: Zoom Meeting ID: 861 8419 0389 / Password: 2022

Scarlette Do on Vietnamese Socialist Utopia in Đặng Nhật Minh’s 1980s Films

Vietnamese auteur Đặng Nhật Minh is highly regarded both inside and outside of the country for his poetic films and skilful negotiations with the censors at the Ministry of Culture. This paper examines two of Đặng’s films—When the Tenth Month Comes (1984) and The Girl on the River (1987)—against the backdrop of socio-political reforms and the Third Indochina War, during which time the socialist utopia once promised by the Communist Party of Vietnam became irretrievably lost. Situating the two films as revisions of the Revolutionary Cinema canon, I identify the ways in which Đặng navigates censorship to make known the Vietnamese community’s deep disillusionment and mourning for war deaths. Despite their critiques of the nation-state, the films nevertheless exhibit fixation on the lost socialist utopia through the thematic focus on the tomorrow that never materialised. Imbued with melancholia, Đặng’s films ultimately perpetuate within spectators yearning for this tomorrow, orienting their gaze away from the imperfect present and the encroaching neo-liberalisation of Vietnamese society.

Scarlette Do is a second-year PhD student at the Australian National University. Her research examines films about the Second Indochina War using interdisciplinary frameworks, including psychoanalysis, gender, and nationalism. When she is not researching and teaching, Scarlette serves as National Co-Director of the One Woman Project, a nonprofit focused on upskilling young people to challenge gender inequity in their local and national communities.

ANU COVID safe event: social distancing and masks mandatory

Alice Grundy’s Exit Seminar: Editing and Publishing in Australia

Thursday 30 June, 4.30-6pm, A. D. Hope G28 (Note change of venue)

Please find link and password for livestream of this seminar here

While many scholars acknowledge that a book’s passage to publication is managed, aided and afforded by the labour of many people, in most literary scholarship such labour is ignored – perpetuating what Jack Stillinger calls ‘the myth of solitary genius’ (1991). My thesis examines the role of editing with two ends: first to reveal the dynamics at work in editorial and publishing practices; and second to better understand some of Australia’s most celebrated texts. Publishing studies is taught at a number of universities but there remains a divide between those who teach in these streams and scholars of literature. In taking six case studies – three fiction, three non-fiction – and through the use of archival research, literary criticism and book history, I demonstrate just how wide-ranging editorial intervention can be and how significant it is for our reckoning with literary production and the resulting texts. By examining Swords and Crowns and Rings by Ruth Park, The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow by Thea Astley and Tirra Lirra by the River by Jessica Anderson I show how editors act as social barometers, as facilitators and inhibitors of creative practice. By examining Don’t Take Your Love to Town by Ruby Langford Ginibi, My Place by Sally Morgan and Bad Manners by Kate Jennings, I show the dangers of good intentions, the power of intellectual engagement and the politics of cutting. This paper offers a new mode for literary and archival scholarship, foregrounding editorial labour to better understand literary work.

Alice Grundy has worked as an editor in trade publishing for over a dozen years, including as Associate Publisher at Brio and Managing Editor at Giramondo. She has taught Professional Editing at UTS and presented workshops and seminars at writers’ festivals around Australia, in India and China. Her articles and reviews have been published in Australian Literary Studies, The Sydney Review of Books, Overland and The Conversation and she has a forthcoming minigraph, Editing Fiction, Three case studies from post-war Australia with Cambridge University Press.

ANU COVID safe event: Social distancing / masks mandatory / COVID safety officer