Fucking with Fangs: Monstrous queer male mothers, affect, and online fan reception
Thursday 1 August, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL
Toxic masculinity is recognised by psychologists and academics as a gender role that is dangerous for men as well as women, one which leads men to experience high rates of suicide, violence, and substance abuse. At the same time, popular culture is recognised as a site where identity, including gender identity, can be shaped, re-thought, and re-considered. This seminar will investigate how queer depictions of monstrous masculinity in popular television maintain and disrupt audiences’ understanding of toxic masculinity with a focus on the family and reproduction. Popular films, television, and novels, especially those that deal with monstrosity, offer an exemplary site for challenging toxic masculinity and reach millions of men across the globe. Filmic and literary monsters present a complex commentary on normative masculinity that can also be used to bridge the critical divide between affect theory, masculinity studies, queer theory, and digital literary and reception studies. I will demonstrates how certain mass cultural texts invite audiences to reject their attachment to toxic masculinity, and how these textual strategies might be mobilised to change broader gender roles that harm men, women, and non-binary people.
Tania Evans is an associate lecturer in cultural studies at the ANU. Her doctoral project explored masculinity, violence, and fantasy in George R. R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire and its television adaptation, Game of Thrones, and a research manuscript based on this work is currently under external review with Edinburgh University Press. She has also written essays on gender in popular culture, in Gothic Studies, Fantastika, Masculinities, and Aeternum: The Journal of Contemporary Gothic Studies.
Through the Artist’s Eye: John Austen’s Hamlet explores the way in which the visual art can subtly reflect unique and partially transgressive interpretations of characters’ implied interiority in Shakespeare. It takes taking John Austen’s highly aesthetic, art nouveau illustrated edition of Hamlet, dating to 1922, as a case study, paying close attention to symbol, gesture, expression and overall artistic composition as they reflect Austen’s close reading of the play as text. Ahead of his time, the artist anticipates late twentieth-century critical and performative interpretations of, in particular, Hamlet and Ophelia. Thus, this thesis sets out to demonstrate Austen’s artistic ingenuity and foresight, and to highlight the critical value of interpreting artistic renderings of Shakespeare’s characters as a form of literary critique. The republication in 2010 of Austen’s Hamlet signals a renewed appreciation for illustrated editions of Shakespeare, making this project a timely contribution to the field of research pertaining to Shakespearean visual art. Prior to 2010, Austen’s contribution to the visual artistic world of Hamlet had gone unnoticed for much of the twentieth-century, most likely because his copies had been, before this time, extremely limited in number. Provocative and imaginative, his illustrations present an unprecedented dark prince, a complicated and independent Ophelia, a diabolical Ghost, and host of disturbing, deeply symbolic, supernatural, feminine entities. Women are no longer relegated to the background in his Hamlet,as in so many onstage, visual artistic and filmic adaptations of the twentieth-century; instead, they are granted a position centre-stage, with the Greek goddess Nemesis (‘Vengeance’) as their fierce, relentless representative.
Luisa Moore is a PhD student in the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics. Her research focuses on twentieth-century visual artistic representations of Shakespeare, and how these images shed light on an artist’s reading of the text and the implied interiority of Shakespeare’s characters. Her written thesis takes John Austen’s highly imaginative, art nouveau illustrated Hamlet (1922) as a case study.
Join us for this week’s CuSPP seminar:
Fantasy and Event in Nella Larsen’s Passing
Thursday 30 May, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL
UPDATE: Unfortunately due to illness, this week’s TLS will not be running. Our TLS series will start back in Semester 2.
Nella Larsen’s Passing (1929), a noteworthy text of the Harlem Renaissance,
portrays the strong and strange connection between Clare and Irene, two women
who racially ‘pass’ between black and white in 1920’s New York. The novel is
often treated as a mysterious text, examined through the lens of race or read
for latent lesbianism. While the complex and illusive nature of the passing
encourages multiple interpretations, few scholars, if any, closely read Irene’s
and Clare’s connection as friendship. Accounting for the force of race and the
sexual ambiguity of Clare’s and Irene’s connection and reading their bond as friendship facilitates an examination of
the text from another direction, offering insight into a particular kind of
female friendship; one in which identification appears to lead toward a
repulsive and desired merging. Drawing on the work of Sianne Ngai on female
envy and Judith Butler on identification, this paper argues that Passing presents a friendship in which
likeness threatens to turn into consuming sameness, as the basis of the
friendship shifts from identification to emulation, fantasy to event. Passing, therefore, depicts a female
friendship which negotiates blurred boundaries: race and sexuality, the self
and other, want and fear.
Louisa Kirk is undertaking her PhD in English Literature at the
Australian National University, examining female friendship in North American
texts of the 20th and 21st century. In 2017 Louisa won the Leslie Holdsworth
Allen Memorial Prize for the best Honours thesis in English at the ANU. Louisa
received a 2019 Stella Prize/ANU Gender Institute internship in Melbourne,
Join us for this week’s CuSPP seminar:
Till the Cows Come Home: A Scene from the Novel Westhill
Thursday 23 May, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL
In Animal Studies discourse, farms
are places of marginalization and cruelty. Agricultural practices involve the
killing of astonishing numbers of animals, and demonstrate, quite graphically,
what Dinesh Wadiwel calls the “continuing warlike domination” of the nonhuman
Simultaneously though, farms, and
particularly ethically focused farms, are unique sites of human-animal
interaction, where interspecies bonds are purposefully or incidentally
cultivated. Agricultural communities are well placed to recognize what Derrida
termed “unsubstitutable singularity” (9).
In his seminal essay “Why Look at
Animals?” John Berger captures the inherent contradictions of farming when he
writes that historically animals were “subjected and worshipped, bred and
sacrificed” (7). Farms are places of human-animal familiarity, and human-animal
brutality. How then are these conflicting ideas to be reconciled to form an
ethically minded and rounded understanding of agriculture? More specifically,
how can fictional literature play a role in examining the nuance, ambiguity and
contradiction of these spaces? The creative component of my PhD thesis grapples
with this thematically, and one scene particularly aims to explore the nexus of
conflicting ideas and feelings. In this scene the protagonist Charlotte tells
of her attempt to aid a farming family when a sudden flood causes two of their
dairy cows to become stuck in the marshy banks of the River Denum.
Kate Oakes is a PhD student in the School of
Literature, Languages and Linguistics, working on a Creative Writing thesis.
She is writing a Bildungsroman novel set in rural southern England, and
her research deals primarily with Animal Studies scholarship, and the novels of
Victorian author Thomas Hardy.
join us on Tuesday June 4 at 4pm to celebrate the launch of our new
colleague Christie Margrave’s book, Writing the
Landscape: Exposing Nature in French Women’s Fiction 1789–1815, which has just been published with Legenda. The launch will take place
from 4-5pm in the AD Hope Conference Room (room 128 at the end of the
hall) and will be hosted by the French Research Cluster, the School of
Literature, Languages and Linguistics and the Humanities Research Centre.
Please spread the word; all are welcome and drinks and nibbles will be
the meantime, learn more about Christie’s book here:
Women novelists were among the most popular
authors of the First Republic and First Empire, yet they are frequently
overlooked in favour of their canonical male counterparts. Their penchant for
sentimental novels has led some later critics to take their writing at face
value as apolitical and domestic, at odds with France’s violent convulsions.
Furthermore, their carefully crafted presentation of natural settings has, thus
far, been dismissed completely. Yet, as Christie Margrave shows, the natural
landscape was far from being a casually chosen backdrop for writers such as
Cottin, Genlis, Krüdener, Souza and Staël. Rather, the ‘escape into nature’
given to their female protagonists was a means to expose and confront the
everyday reality and emotional suffering faced by women in the Revolutionary
decade and Napoleonic Empire. By highlighting self-expression, and by
celebrating the figure of the melancholic wanderer, the social misfit, or the
visionary, in the setting of an often tempestuous Nature, they also exerted
substantial influence on the literary Romanticism which was soon to capture the
forward to seeing you there.
Join us for this week’s CuSPP seminar:
Mediating Sovereignty: The Crown as ‘Interbrow’
Thursday 16 May, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL
This paper reads The
Crown as an example of narrative ‘interbrow’—my coinage for middlebrow
stories produced in the time of the internet. The Crown depicts British royalty as susceptible to middlebrow
culture pervading late-twentieth century life, with its enmeshment of mass
media networks. In its first two seasons at least, The Crown’s portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II positions her as a
figure whose performance of detachment, and upholding of ideals of monarchical
impartiality, are in tension with the commoditising effects of mass media.
Billed as a ‘Netflix Original’, although written by respected playwright Peter
Morgan, the series formally enacts and thematically explores the limitations
and possibilities of the sovereign subject’s autonomous judgement from within a
culture conditioned by deeply mediatised desires and consumer-based drives.
This paper looks at the series’ entanglement of middlebrow perspectives with
twentieth- and twenty-first century media, revealing not only the way in which
royalty fail to escape culture-industrial intermediation but also drawing
attention to The Crown’s
representation of tenuous yet tenacious bonds between women. It does so by
focusing on two episodes that read together juxtapose the publication of a
‘nude’ photograph of Princess Margaret with her sister Elizabeth’s embodiment
of the crown.
Rooney is a Senior Lecturer in the English
Program, School of Literatures, Languages and Linguistics at The Australian National
University. She is the author of Living
Screens: Melodrama and Plasticity in Contemporary Film and Television (2015) and the co-editor, with Guy Davidson, of Queer Objects (Routledge, 2019). Her
essays on contemporary intermedia have recently been published in Angelaki and New Review of Film and Television Studies. Her current project
investigates the role of ‘interbrow’ in a range of contemporary media.
Join us for this week’s CuSPP seminar:
Liu Cixin’s Diqiu Wangshi Trilogy
Thursday 9 May, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL
This thesis examines Liu Cixin’s Diqiu Wangshi (The
Remembrance of Earth’s Past), a Chinese science fiction trilogy whose
translation is unprecedentedly popular in the Western world. In his interviews
and critical writings, Liu Cixin often explains that he is predominantly influenced
by modern and contemporary Anglophone authors, including George Orwell, Arthur
C. Clarke, Aldous Huxley and Ray Bradbury, among others. By considering Liu’s
trilogy in view of such influences, this thesis breaks down the aesthetic and
thematic components of Diqiu Wangshi, these being scientism,
humanism, technologism, historicism and utopianism. It also considers the
influence of the Chinese author Wang Meng’s youth fiction Qingchun
Wansui and how its idealism helps to shape the aesthetic and moral
character of Liu’s work. The purpose of this analysis is to account for the
originality of Diqiu Wangshi, arguing that its ingenuity is found
in its conscious engagement with translated fiction rather than in the
literature of Chinese science fiction. The dissertation more generally aims at
exploring how contemporary Chinese writers of the post-Mao period are clearly
more influenced by western translated fiction and universal thematic concerns
than current critical approaches seem to suggest.
Will Peyton is a PhD candidate in SLLL. He has
published in The
International History Review, The
China Story and Science Fiction
7 – 9:30pm, 9 May, Manning Clarke Hall.
The ANU Learning Communities present this free event in collaboration with ANU Advancement (ANU Alumni).
Against the backdrop of the rise of the #metoo movement, the conviction of paedophiles and the pushback against misogynists throughout history, how do we react and process art connected to an artist who was a terrible person?
Come along next Thursday to watch CuSPP Researcher Monique Rooney argue in this fantastic event.
Admission is free however seating is limited, so registration is essential.
Visit the event page here for more details and ticketing information:
Join us for this week’s CuSPP Seminar:
How (Not) to Become Tolerant: Affects and Habitus in Lessing’s Nathan the Wise
Thursday 2 May, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL
The coincidences and phantasms that open Lessing’s Nathan the Wise reappear throughout the entire drama and even bring about its happy ending. While the usual interpretation of the plot maintains that the illusions held by the protagonists of the play—such as their superstitions, unrestrained affects and prejudices—are overcome via a learning process and transformed into tolerance, I maintain a different view. In my presentation I will argue, first, that these illusions are gently enlightened, rather than overcome, and, second, that this process only ostensibly leads to tolerance. As a consequence, my analysis focuses on the negotiation between tolerance and intolerance, and finally arrives at the conclusion that the maid Daja actually represents tolerance better than the protagonists, because she is the only one from whom tolerant endurance is demanded.
In my interpretation, the play represents how not to become tolerant because of the gap between the privileged notion of tolerance exemplified by the main characters, such as Nathan’s daughter Recha and the Templar who rescues her, and the disadvantage experienced by the maid Daja, whose affective life is rendered illegitimate by the development of the play. The affective life of the main protagonists follows Bourdieu’s model of a privileged habitus and Daja, a maid and supporting character, is excluded from it. My reading of Nathan the Wise reverses the conventional understanding of tolerance as something that always refers to the main characters. Instead of focusing upon how they exemplify tolerance, I focus on the process through which their tolerance is constituted (and its difficulty), which enables me to argue that it is easier for them to become ‘tolerant’ than it is for Daja.
Manuel Clemens has taught in the German program in SLLL since August
2018. He has previously taught at Rutgers University, Leuphana University.
Germany, and University Iberoamericana and the University of Michoacán, Mexico.
His work focuses on the vexed relationship between aesthetics, education and
politics in the constitution of liberal society.
Join us for this week’s CuSPP seminar:
Criminal Justice: Televisual Policing in the Age of Disillusionment
Thursday 4 April, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL
This paper argues that the popular television series The Blacklist (2013-present) marks a
turn in “terror TV” (Tasker) towards criminals being the better police as trust
in traditional law enforcement evaporates post 9/11. While traditional crime
and procedural dramas such as NCIS
still exist, terror TV such as The Blacklist
represents a shift in the stability of the genre and reflects a deep sense of
While the first decade of the new
millennium saw a surge of superhero movie franchises celebrating American
exceptionalism and heroic individualism, the second decade is beginning to show
cracks in this facade of the classic American hero. Faced with terror abroad
and at home, and transnational crime/terror organisations more advanced and
better organised than any governmental agency, law enforcement agencies are
deemed inadequate, hindered, even crippled, by moral, ethical and legal
The Blacklist renders the traditional forces of the law close to impotent, and displays a distinctly post-9/11 loss of trust in, and growing frustration with, traditional institutions of law enforcement and government.
Katharina Bonzel is a lecturer in screen studies in SLLL. She is the coeditor of Representations of Sports Coaches in Film: Looking to Win and her monograph National Pastimes: Cinema, Sports, and Nation will be released with the University of Nebraska Press in fall 2019.