Kathryne Ford on Charles Dickens

The Hero of His Own Life?: Biofiction, Legacy, and Charles Dickens’s Life-Writing Novels

Monday 11 December, 2pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

Charles Dickens sought to control the narratives of everyone he encountered, both in life and on the page. He even edited his own identity by burning both his correspondence and an early attempt at autobiography. Dickens’s reputation has now become public domain, however, and neo-Victorian authors are re-imagining the Dickensian. Scholarship has previously examined Dickens’s notorious fusing of fact and fiction, his angst about legacy, and his shifting authorial identity. However, what has not been made explicit is how these concerns manifest in a curious pattern, wherein Dickens’s professed protagonists—the ostensible hero/ine/s of their respective texts—are often deposed, sometimes even by the author himself. I trace this trend through Dickens’s novels exhibiting the tenets of life-writing—which I refer to as his life-writing novels—including David Copperfield’s (fictional) autobiography, the memoirs of Mr. Pickwick and Oliver Twist, and Little Dorrit’s biography. Such a focus privileges Dickens’s most famous protagonists, through whom he asked to be remembered.

Kathryne Ford  is currently completing a PhD at the Australian National University; she also has a BA (English Technical and Professional Writing) and an MA (English Literature), both from the University of Memphis. Kathryne has presented at a number of conferences in New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom, and she recently published an article on Neo-Victorian biofiction, memory, and authorial agency in the Australasian Journal of Victorian Studies (2016).

Rina Kikuchi: women & poetry in WWII Japan

Filling in the ‘blank page’ of literary history: What were women fighting for in WWII Japan through their poetry?

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

When compared, women’s poetry (as well as women’s writing in general) during the war‐time Japan (1941‐45) seems to be shockingly different before and after WWII. Their strong belief in feminism and modernism seems to have been completely discarded in their propaganda poetry in support of the war and the government’s party line during WWII. Some critics argue that women wrote these propaganda poems because there was no other choice, however, I argue it is not the case. This paper examines what is continued and what seems to be discontinued in women’s poetry written in WWII Japan, and discusses why women poets are hardly ever criticized by male literary scholars for writing propaganda poems in support of war, and the danger of mythologizing women as innocent motherly figures who cannot write brutal bloody poetry for war.

Rina Kikuchi is an Associate Professort at Shiga University Japan. She has an M.A. in comparative literary theory from the University of Warwick, UK, and a Ph.D in contemporary Irish poetry from Chiba University, Japan, for which her study included a year of research at Trinity College, Dublin. At present, she is a visiting fellow at ANU and the University of Canberra, and conducting her research on modern and contemporary Japanese women’s poetry, which includes translating their works into English. Her most recent book is a bilingual anthology, Poet to Poet: Contemporary Women Poets from Japan (Recent Work Press, 2017) coedited with a NZ/Australia poet, Jen Crawford.


Chris Bishop on Peplum Films in Cold-War America

Peplum Films in Cold-War America or: How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Beefcake

Thursday 19 October, 1pm Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLL

American interest in the ancient world took on a new life in the second half of the twentieth century, thanks largely to the Marshall Plan and the bourgeoning opportunities for US investment in the European film industry. The subsequent craze for ‘peplum’ films (or Sword and Sandal epics) marks an interesting intersection of economic pragmatism, a shift in US demographics, a crisis in Hollywood, and an intense struggle for the public recognition of the homoerotic.

Chris Bishop teaches in the Centre for Classical Studies, ANU.  His most recent monograph, Medievalist Comics and the American Century was published last year by the University Press of Mississippi, who have subsequently asked him to contribute to a forthcoming collection on neoclassicism in comics (research for which forms the basis of this paper).

Presentation Workshop

Presentation Workshop: A Toolkit for Getting the Most out of your 20 Minutes in Front of an Audience

Thursday 5 October, 1pm Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLL

This week’s seminar will be a seminar on seminars, a presentation on presentations. Led by SLLL staff members Dr Kate Flaherty and Dr Gemma King, staff, students, fellows and visitors are encouraged to share tips and ideas for making effective conference presentations. We will also discuss how we might tweak the Thursday Lunchtime Seminar for next year to make it relevant and accessible to staff across the various disciplines represented by SLLL.


Mathew, Nulley-Valdés & Peyton: Reviving the Author

Reviving the Author

Thursday 28 September, 1pm Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLL

The question of authorial intent looms large over literary studies. The influence of post-structuralist thought from Derrida to Barthes and the new criticism attempted to challenge the primacy of the author’s intention for the text. As critics we are still confronted with this problem in literary research, to what extent do we believe that there is authorial intent behind a text and how should this be dealt with in research? In these three short presentations we will discuss our responses to this problem in our research methodology. This heterogeneous roundtable will explore the (almost) inescapable presence of the author: Imogen researches Wiradjuri author Anita Heiss, Thomas studies Latin American short story anthologies from a world literature methodology, and Will applies linguistic literary analysis to the works of Liu Cixin. This inclusion of the author can be approached from a number of perspectives: how the author makes their intention known through the text, existing authorial commentary, oral interview methodologies, and how involving the author shapes the research project.

Imogen Mathew is a PhD candidate in SLLL. Her writing has been published in the Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (JASAL), Contemporary Women’s Writing, Australian Humanities Review and Australasian Journal of Victorian Studies (forthcoming 2017). Thomas Nulley-Valdés is a PhD student in contemporary Latin American literature in SLLL. For his doctoral research he has conducted over 25 interviews with contemporary Latin American authors and editors and has published some of these interviews. Will Peyton is a PhD candidate in Chinese literature and translation in SLLL. He completed his undergraduate studies in history at the University of Melbourne and has studied at the Renmin University of China, Peking University and the National Taiwan Normal University.

Kate Flaherty: ‘Moving Women: How the Touring Actress Changed Shakespeare’

Moving Women: How the Touring Actress Changed Shakespeare

Thursday 21 September, 1pm Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLL

Gail Marshall contends that the Victorian-era actress was chiefly valued for her statuesque qualities – her stately stillness and blank beauty that linked her to classical culture, and exonerated her from the charge of artful self-fashioning. Helena Faucit was lauded for her embodiment of this Galatea aesthetic. The artless, sculpted-marble quality of her beauty was lauded as purity and, peculiarly for an actress, she was seen as a paragon of female virtue. In contrast, her American counterpart, Charlotte Cushman was known for her movement: she was an athletic physical performer, especially in male roles such as Hamlet and Romeo, and she travelled back and forth across the Atlantic and Pacific on tour. My paper uses these very different actresses to investigate the concepts of movement and mobility within public discourses of gender in the 19th century. Both actresses were widely acclaimed for their Shakespeare roles and both were described as moving audiences. However, the qualities attributed to their performances indicate contrary understandings of what constituted force, skill and truth in performance. I suggest that this reveals a micro-shift towards recognition of the expressive range and creative autonomy of the female performer which, in turn, transformed how Shakespeare’s plays could make meaning for the modern world.

Dr Kate Flaherty is Lecturer in English and Drama, SLLL. Her research focuses on how Shakespeare’s works play on the stage of public culture. Her monograph Ours as we play it: Australia plays Shakespeare (UWAP, 2011) examined three plays in performance in contemporary Australia. More recent work investigates Shakespeare on the colonial stage and the public interplay of the dramas with education and the politics of gender and empire.