Katherine Cox, ‘Age of the Supersoldier’

Join us for this week’s CuSPP seminar:

Age of the Supersoldier: Subversive Cyborgs in

Iron Man and Avengers: Age of Ultron

Thursday 16 August, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

In 2013, the U.S. military began development of an ‘Iron Man’ suit – a powered, armored exoskeleton – heralding the possibility of technologically enhanced supersoldiers in the not-too-distant future. Despite the political and ethical dangers that supersoldiers pose, this paper proposes that the supersoldier – like Donna Haraway’s cyborg – also contains the potential to disrupt the hegemonic institutions of capitalism and nationalistic militarism that give it life. Marvel’s Iron Man is a direct beneficiary of the American military-industrial complex, and certainly the character functions as an evolving metaphor for American optimism regarding the role of technology in national security. In both comic and film incarnations, however, Iron Man continually rejects military control of his technology, and re-negotiates the relationship between technology and violence. As a cyborg, his integration with technology is ambivalent and painful as often as it is empowering. I will examine the Frankensteinian themes in the Iron Man mythos, especially in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) which can be read as a Frankenstein retelling. Iron Man’s desperate attempt to create a non-human protector for the Earth results instead in a hostile artificial intelligence, Ultron, who carries through on the threat delivered by Frankenstein’s Monster, builds himself a body, and turns against humanity. Crucially, however, Iron Man does this in a desperate attempt to make himself redundant, suggesting a deep discomfort with the concept of the supersoldier. In this paper I will suggest that although the supersoldiers of Iron Man are deeply rooted in privileged ideologies of wealth and war, like Haraway’s cyborg, they are “exceedingly unfaithful to their origins”.

Katherine Cox is a PhD candidate in Literature in SLLL. Her research interests include science fiction and fantasy, apocalyptic fiction, critical theory, film and game studies, and popular culture. Her doctoral project investigates the affective influence of national security in Marvel’s Iron Man (2008) and sequels.

Julianne Lamond & Melinda Harvey

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Book Reviewing in the Australian Literary FIeld

Thursday 9 August, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

Most of the writing about books that is published in Australia takes place outside the academy: more than 3,000 book reviews are published each year in Australian newspapers and magazines. These reviews constitute a sector of the online literary sphere that retains strong links to legacy print media, as well as to other consecrating mechanisms in the field such as literary prizes and university syllabuses. Book reviews are an important and understudied sector of the literary field. They are also, as we know from the Stella and Vida counts of the past decade, strongly gendered. This paper discusses the key findings thus far of a collaborative research project on gender in Australian book reviewing—a project that aims to understand the relationship between gender, academic criticism and more public forms of writing about literature over the past 30 years in Australia.

Julieanne Lamond lectures in English at ANU and is editor of the journal Australian Literary Studies.

Melinda Harvey is Lecturer in Literary Studies at Monash University, is series editor of Monash University Press’ Contemporary Australian Writers series, and is a current judge of the Miles Franklin Literary Award.

Deirdre Byrne on Black Panther

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Give the Black Girl the Remote: Decolonising and Depatriarchalising

Technology in Black Panther

Thursday 2 August, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLL

In Ryan Coogler’s 2018 film, Black Panther, the small African kingdom of Wakanda is situated on a huge vein of vibranium, the strongest and most versatile (fictional) material in the universe. Vibranium is the source of the Wakandans’ technological enhancements, including a force-field around their high-tech capital city that makes it appear from the outside that the kingdom is impoverished and technologically primitive. Marvel’s and Coogler’s acts of giving vibranium to the Wakandans represents a powerful act of decolonising technology, which – in colonial logic – is the sole preserve of white male scientists. The most advanced technology is now in the hands of Wakanda, where the technological genius is not the hypermasculine T’challa, but his sister Shuri, disparaged by traditionalists in Wakanda as “a child”. Despite her irreverent and iconoclastic approach to tradition, sixteen-year-old Shuri is, according to the film’s producer Nate Moore, “the smartest person in the world, smarter than Tony Stark [Iron Man]”. The film’s portrayal of Shuri – a black girl nerd who is manifestly her brother’s equal in the arts of war and technology – points to how far popular media has come in decolonising and depatriarchalising control of resources in the twenty-first century.

Deirdre Byrne is Professor of English Studies and Head of the Institute for Gender Studies at the University of South Africa. She is editor in chief of scrutiny2: issues in english studies in southern africa and Gender Questions. She is one of the co-editors of Fluid Love, Fluid Gender (forthcoming from Brill) as well as a co-author of Foundations in English Literary Studies (Oxford University Press). in 2019).

James Underhill on Creating and Translating Worldviews

Join us for this week’s CuSPP seminar:

Creating and Translating Worldviews

Thursday 26 July, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

Writers create worlds. This session will raise the question of what translators do when they translate authors. What worldviews are they translating when they translate the words and worlds of authors? What role does language play in shaping the meanings of those worldviews and the meanings they can have for us today when we transform them into other spaces, other times, other tongues?

Translating literary texts forces us to move beyond form and meaning, and to explore how the worlds of authors are patterned. By moving beyond the dictionary and beyond the idea that translators must render the meaning of their authors, this session should enable literary scholars and translators to explore ways in which literary texts work. At the same time, translating should highlight something of the sensibility of the literary scholar. This leads us to a key question related to the success of translations: What goes wrong when the literary sensibility is not developed in translators?

Professor James W. Underhill lectures on Literature, Poetics, and Translation at Rouen University in Northern France. His work on worldview and language focuses on both linguistic constraints at a deeper level, and the essential creative impulse by which individuals stimulate the shared language of the community. His most recent publications include Voice and Versification in Translating Poems (Ottawa University Press, 2017), and, with Mariarosaria Gianninoto, Migrating Meanings: the people, citizen, individual, & Europe (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming in 2019).

Bloomsday 2018, June 16 Event

Bloomsday 2018 will take place on Saturday June 16, in celebration of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Join CuSPP member Russell Smith at the Canberra Irish Club:

6:30pm Saturday 16 June

Dress: Edwardian. Door Prizes for Best Dressed!

Canberra Irish Club, 6 Parkinson St, Weston

$40, includes two-course dinner & entertainment

Bookings (up to table of 10):
Visit: http://www.irishclub.com.au

Phone: (02) 6288 5088

Kate Flaherty on the Touring Actress as Vector of Political Change

Join us for this week’s CuSPP seminar:

Moving Women: The Touring Actress as Vector of Political Change

Thursday 31 May, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

In 1869, one year before the first women’s suffrage bill was presented in the British parliament, John Stuart Mill published his treatise on the subjection of women. One of the lynch-pins of his argument for an end to the legal subordination of women is work. In it he recommends that ‘the present bounties and protective duties in favour of men should be recalled to permit the free play of competition’ in professional contexts. But in one profession this free play of competition had already been in effect for two centuries. In the theatre, Mill points out, women had demonstrated their more than equal aptitude to succeed: ‘The only one of the fine arts that women do follow to any extent, as a profession, and an occupation for life is the histrionic; and in that they are confessedly equal, if not superior to men.’

To position theatre as an incubation chamber for gender equity jars with popular narratives of socio-political progress. This paper makes a provocative case for touring actresses—the ‘moving women’ of my title—as providing a crucial prologue to the Women’s Movement. Charlotte Cushman and Fanny Kemble traversed the Atlantic in one of few public professions open to women in the early 19th century. They were moving women in a second sense in that they captured the imagination of an international public. I reflect upon how, both as artists and polemicists, each made a distinctive contribution to destabilising hegemonic notions about the relationship between women, work and public influence.

Dr Kate Flaherty is Senior Lecturer in English and Drama in SLLL. This paper is part of a book project mapping the influence of touring actresses on the movement for women’s suffrage