Christina Neuwirth on ‘Quantitative evidence of gender inequality’

Quantitative evidence of gender inequality in contemporary Scottish publishing

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Thursday 14 November, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

The UK publishing industry has an equality problem. Much recent research has evidenced systemic gender, ethnicity and class bias (‘In Full Colour: Cultural Diversity in Publishing Today’ 2004; Squires 2017; Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics, n.d.; Ramdarshan Bold 2018; Brook, O’Brien, and Taylor 2018; Wood 2019). However, specific evidence is missing from the Scottish literary sector: while VIDA (2018) and the recent Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics report have shown biases in UK reviewing, their work’s scope does not include Scottish national newspapers; while Griffith (2015) has shown gender bias in UK and US literary awards, the dataset does not include Scottish awards; and although gender pay gap reporting in the UK showed average differences in pay between men and women “from 11.3% to 29.69%” (Flood 2018), Scottish publishers were exempt from reporting as they comprise mostly small and medium enterprises (Ramdarshan Bold 2012). This paper examines gender equality publishing output by Scottish publishers Jan-Dec 2017, reviewing in Scottish national newspapers Jan-Dec 2017, and three selected literary festivals and their programming, Jan-Dec 2017. Building on the work of Stevie Marsden (2016; 2019) on gender equality in the Saltire Society Literary Awards, this paper also examines two suites of literary awards, the James Tait Black Prizes 1919-2018, and the Saltire Society Literary Awards 1965-2018.

Christina Neuwirth is the recipient of the Arts and Humanities Research Council/Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities Creative Economy Studentship “Women of Words”, and is currently completing her PhD in Publishing Studies at University of Stirling, University of Glasgow and Scottish Book Trust. Her fiction and non-fiction writing has been published in various anthologies, journals and magazines in the UK, and her debut novella Amphiban (Speculative Books) was published in 2018. @ChristinaNwrth

Kateřina Lišková, ‘Sexual Liberation, Socialist Style’

Sexual Liberation, Socialist Style: Intimate Life and Expertise in Communist Czechoslovakia

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

While the usual account places sexual liberation to 1960s West, I will argue for an earlier and systemic sexual liberation that took place in the 1950s in one of the countries of the Cold War East. I will show how important aspects of sexuality were freed already during the first postwar decade in Czechoslovakia: abortion was legalized, homosexuality decriminalized, the female orgasm came into experts’ focus – and all that was underscored by an emphasis on gender equality. However, by the late stages, known as Normalization, gender discourses reversed, and women were to aspire to be caring mothers and docile wives. Good sex was to cement a lasting marriage and family.

In contrast to the usual Western accounts highlighting the importance of social movements to sexual and gender freedom, here we discover, based on the analysis of rich archival sources covering forty years of state socialism in Czechoslovakia, how experts, including sexologists, demographers, and psychologists, advised the state on population development, marriage, and the family to shape the most intimate aspects of people’s lives.

Kateřina Lišková is an Associate Professor in gender studies and sociology at Masaryk University. Her research focuses on gender, sexuality, and the social organization of intimacy, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. Her research on gender, sexuality, and expertise under state socialism was published by Cambridge University Press and won the 2019 Barbara Heldt Prize for Best Book and received an honorable mention for the 2019 Adele E. Clarke Book Award.

Kate Flaherty on Ellen Terry’s 1914 Tour

‘Permitted to be a person’: Re-reading Ellen Terry’s 1914 Tour to the ‘Antipodes’

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Thursday 24 October, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

In 1914, at the age of 67, the most celebrated star of London stage embarked on a tour to Australia and New Zealand. Ellen Terry’s doctor and close family were against the venture, and biographers and theatre historians have dismissed it as ill-judged or indicative of her mental decline. In my paper I challenge this reading. I excavate media interviews and performance reviews to examine Terry’s responsive and intelligent interactions with her Australian and New Zealand audiences. These reveal her eager and critical interest in the experience of female suffrage – won in these nations long before it was granted in Britain. Terry’s correspondence from this period also reveals a lively sense of adventure and a vivid responsiveness to the land and flora which has been utterly elided by accounts that focus on her anxiety and illness. Along with Sarah Bernhardt’s, Terry’s is one of the most documented stage lives of all time. The cursory treatment given to her 1914 tour all of her biographers reveals a pervasive paradigm of theatre history: that the life narrative of the actress is read through narratives of her nation of origin. This sits at odds with dynamic and transitory life experience and influence of many touring actresses in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. My study of Terry is the first of six chapters in a book that investigates the moving lives of some of these moving women.

Kate Flaherty is a SeniorLecturer in English and Drama in the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics, ANU. Kate’s 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 its public interplay with education, gender politics, imperialism, and sectarian friction.

Jyoti Nandan on Nationalism’s betrayal of women

Nationalism’s Betrayal of Women: Anita Desai’s Clear Light of Day

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Thursday 3 October, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

Nationalism, when ill-conceived, can come at the expense of values held dear among the more emancipated. The specific focus of this paper is Indian Nationalism and its impact on the women of India. The modernity pursued by the Movement emerged not from a questioning of both tradition and change, but from a compromise of a kind. Nationalist ideology split the domain of culture into the the public and the private. In the public, represented by men, it was necessary to modernise, while in the private, represented by women, Indian tradition must be kept alive and Indian identity intact. (Partha Chatterjee, 1993) The result was a freeze on women’s development. The separation of the private and the public was a way of countering colonial dominance and maintaining self-identity, but it led to an unhealthy Manichaenism – a non-dialectical opposition between the two spheres.  Unable to see that women’s freedom and the freedom of the nation are not in conflict, the leaders exhorted women to denounce assertion of equal rights and shape themselves to suit the needs of the nation. Women’s emancipation was held back, in some respects, by Gandhi, whose name is synonymous with Indian nationalism. Gandhi essentialised female sexuality by appealing to the ‘female’ virtues of chastity, self-sacrifice and suffering in women and did not seem to have questioned the cost to women themselves of an emphasis on these qualities.  Women themselves were complicit in the promotion of nationalist ideology.  As their autobiographical writings showed, they came to believe that their private aspirations must be subordinated to the concerns of the nation.  Anita Desai’s Clear Light of Day is a subtle portrayal of the impact of the strategies employed by Indian Nationalism on the women of India.  It counters the Movement’s separation of the private and the public as it is largely through the portrayal of the life of one family that it throws light on this impact. In other words, it suggests that what occurs in the public affects the private and vice versa.

Jyoti Nandan is an Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Literature, Languages, and Linguistics, Australian National University.  Her research focus in the main has been New Literatures in English.  She has given scholarly presentations and published widely in this area.  She has generally used the post-colonial feminist framework to analyse literary works.

Jono Lineen on Walking

Perfect Motion: How Walking Makes Us Wiser

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Thursday 19 September, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

Since our first ancestor rose up to place one foot in front of another, our desire to walk has produced fundamental changes in our bodies and minds.

In Perfect Motion, Jono Lineen investigates that transformation, and why walking has made us more creative, helped us to learn, constructed our perception of time, strengthened our resilience and provided a way of making sense of our life – and death.

In this presentation Lineen discusses how walking has become humankind’s most open and creative state and how everyone can utilise these qualities to become more innovative and productive. 

Jono Lineen spent almost 20 years traveling the world working as a forester, ski racer, mountain guide, humanitarian relief worker and writer. He is a curator at the National Museum of Australia whose recent research investigates the link between walking and creativity. His books include River Trilogy, Into the Heart of the Himalayas and Perfect Motion.

Anne-Mette Bech Albrechtslund on Goodreads

A balancing act: Putting up bookshelves on a social media platform

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Thursday 12 September, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

This talk concerns the interplay between social media and contemporary reading practices as seen from a qualitative, discourse-oriented perspective. The popular social book cataloguing site Goodreads is used as a starting point to examine and discuss the dynamics of a developing digital reading culture, focusing on the use of so-called ‘bookshelves’ on the site. While Goodreads has been successful in creating the kind of participatory culture which may directly influence the publishing communication circuit, it has also become increasingly clear in recent years that there are strong economic and strategic interests tied to the platform’s business model. Suspicions and worries about Goodreads’ increasing commercialization have often been aired among users, not least in the continuing discussions on the site about the purpose of bookshelves, and the policies relating to them certainly seem to be an indication of that. In this talk, I will present examples of these discussions and discuss how these can be seen part of an appropriating strategy where users claim ownership of the online space they inhabit and act as literary curators and critics in their own right.

Anne-Mette Bech Albrechtslund is a Danish researcher in the fields of media and information studies with a background in comparative literature. She is currently a Visiting Fellow at the SLLL. Her published research focuses on digital reading culture, gaming communities, internet research methods, and more.

Katie Cox on ‘Superpowered Security’

Superpowered Security: Cruel Optimism in Marvel’s Iron Man Films (Exit Presentation)

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Thursday 29 August, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

Over the course of the War on Terror, it has become commonplace to note that the United States and allies now exist in a permanent state of emergency, such that once-exceptional security measures are now the norm. Katie draws on the work of Lauren Berlant to argue that national security has become an object of cruel optimism: a fantasy that sustains the nation, like the promise of ‘the good life’, but which proves either impossible to achieve or “too possible, and toxic”. Viewing security as a cruelly optimistic attachment allows us to untangle the ways in which constant escalation of security measures wears people down, even while it provides the nation with the “conditions of possibility” that guarantee its endurance.  

Katie examines Marvel’s Iron Man films, using the relationship between Tony Stark and the Iron Man suit to think through the cruel optimism in the logic of security discourse. As superpowered representations of United States national security practices, the Iron Man films demonstrate an affective entanglement between national security and optimistic fantasies of technological progress, prosperity, and freedom. Nevertheless, Iron Man’s relationship with his technology is nothing if not cruel; his dependence on the Iron Man suit fosters a sense of insecurity, such that he begins to create the threats he seeks to prevent. I argue that the Iron Man films neither fully critique or endorse United States national security policy post-9/11, but instead reflect a public struggle to reconcile the optimistic promises linked to national security in the political imagination with the lived reality of crisis as an everyday norm. 

Katie Cox is a PhD student in Literature at the Australian National University, specialising in speculative fiction, popular film, and critical theory. Her research has been featured on local and international radio, and in 2018 she won the People’s Choice Award for the ANU 3 Minute Thesis Grand Final. 

Thomas Nulley-Valdés on ‘universalist trajectories’ and the Global South

Semi-universal trajectories from the Global South: A comparative Casanovian study of Vicente Huidobro and José Donoso

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Thursday 22 August, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

The Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro (1893-1948) and the Chilean novelist José Donoso (1925-1996) both demonstrated universal ambitions for their literary oeuvre: the former through his avant-garde creacionismo poetry, and the latter through formal novelistic experimentation during the Latin American literary Boom of the 1960s. A Casanovian micro/macro-level methodology rearticulates their respective literary trajectories within the literature-world by considering not solely their creative texts but also extra-literary material (manifestoes, letters, chronicles) and contexts, all mutually informing perspectives which illustrate this halfway universalisation. This critical perspective sheds light on their eventual unaccomplished desires of transcendence of the national paradigm, rejection of extra-literary political commitment, and pure dedication to literary poetics, through their eventual return and settlement within a national tradition and engagement with these very same issues. As such, Casanova’s theory is valuable for understanding these complex literary paths but is problematized theoretically in turn through an analysis of this failed universal trajectory of authors from the Global South.

Thomas Nulley-Valdés is a lecturer in the Spanish Programme at the ANU. His main research interests include: the macro and micro-level analysis of texts, authors, and contexts; contemporary short story anthologies; and World Literature theories and methodologies. For his doctoral research he has conducted over 25 interviews with contemporary Latin American authors and editors and has published some of these interviews.

Gabrielle Carey on ‘Katherine Mansfield’s Cousin’

Elizabeth von Arnim was born Mary Beauchamp in Kirribilli in 1866. At 24 became a Prussian countess  and moved to Pomerania where she ‘somewhat mutinously’ bore five children while secretly writing under a pen name. Always able to recognise literary talent, von Arnim employed E.M. Forster and Hugo Walpole as tutors for her daughters. On being widowed, she began an affair with H.G. Wells which was followed by a marriage to Bertrand Russell’s brother and then a 12-year romantic liaison with a man 30 years her junior. So how did she find time to write 21 best-selling comic novels, one memoir and a sell-out play?

Gabrielle Carey is writer of non-fiction interested in resurrecting forgotten Australian writers. Her most recent book, Falling Out of Love with Ivan Southall,  was about the hugely popular and internationally awarded children’s writer of the 1960s and 70s. In 2014 her book about Randolph Stow, Moving Among Strangers, won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Non-FIction. In 2019 she was the H.C. Coombs Creative Arts Fellow. She is currently a Visiting Fellow with the School of History and trying to finish a biography of Elizabeth von Arnim.

Beate Langenbruch, A Walk through the Garden

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Thursday 8 August, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

Vegetal enclosure inviting to meditation, idyllic framework for political reflection or locus amoenus for lover’s rendez-vous in Old French poetry and romance: the garden reveals its high and flexible potential in Medieval literature. Do we remember that the epic Song of Roland (ca. 1100) settles the first of its dramatic scenes in two orchards? As a green theatre, the mighty trees of in Beroul’s Tristan and Isold witness an interesting double play, becoming both a lookout and a trap for the lovers’ enemies. Other novels, such as Chretien of Troyes’ Erec and Enide or Cligès consolidate the lacy features of branches by constructing hidden playgrounds for either chivalry combat or secret lovers. Of course, the first garden exposed on a French stage is Eden, since the first religious play in this language is the Jeu d’Adam, that already knows how useful special effects are…

Our walk through these medieval gardens will discuss the close interaction of Nature and Human culture, and investigate on the patterns that the diverse genres of Old French literature will display when setting up the green scenery.

Beate Langenbruch is a German researcher, Associate Professor at ENS de Lyon in France, and member of the CIHAM research group (UMR 5648) on history, archeology and literature in the Middle Ages. As a specialist for French medieval texts, she investigates in particular on Old French Epics. Other fields of interest and research are réécriture of medieval texts, their literary genre, medieval gender studies, translation studies and cultural transfers.