Beneath the Sea, Inland: Reading Aquifers and Opals in Australian Literature

Over one hundred million years ago, the shallow Eromanga Sea filled the north-eastern region of this continent with cool salty water and prehistoric marine life. Water has since percolated through its drying seabed and formed a liquid shadow of sorts beneath the surface. Memories of the ancient sea are retained in subterranean aquifers and the veins of opal that flash above them in lithic fissures. By virtue of their lack of surface visibility, the excavation of these hidden resources has been critical to the advancement of the settler-colonial project – a process predicated on the ongoing dispossession of Indigenous land. In this paper, I work with the entangled subterranean figures of aquifers and opals as they surface in Australian literature to explore themes of national identity and ecological catastrophe. I analyse early twentieth century representations of groundwater usage and opal mining communities in Banjo Patterson’s An Outback Marriage (1906) and Katharine Suzannah Pritchard’s Black Opal (1918), against contemporary evocations of these themes in works by Janette Turner Hospital (Oyster 1996), Alexis Wright (Carpentaria 2006), and Tara June Winch (Swallow the Air 2003). In doing so, I ask: to what extent do literary evocations of hidden aquifers and opals critique the nation’s extractive impulse? In what ways may they offer alternative modes of relation between the surface and the depths, the subterranean and the submarine, and the seen and the unseen?

Bio:

Theodora Galanis is a PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide in the Department of English, Creative Writing and Film. Her thesis, titled “Figuring the Sea, Inland: Oceanic Imaginaries in Contemporary Australian Literature”, aims to subvert and re-hydrate the settler-colonial figure of ‘Australia’s inland sea’ to explore the complexities of national identity and environmental catastrophe. This project forms part of the Australian Research Council Special Research Initiative, Between Indian and Pacific Oceans: Reframing Australian Literatures, led by chief investigators Meg Samuelson and Mandy Treagus. Theodora is an editor of The Saltbush Review, South Australia’s new digital literary journal.

Apollo and the Cumaean Sibyl by Claude Lorrain and Salvator Rosa- a comparative study of two seventeenth century landscape paintings

This article aims to compare two 17th century Baroque landscape paintings, a French painter Claude Lorrain’s (1604- 1682), Coastal Landscape with Apollo and the Cumaean Sybil with a landscape painting composed by an Italian artist Salvator Rosa (1615-1673), River Landscape with Apollo and the Cumaean Sibyl. Claude Lorrain is a representative of an ideal landscape painting style inspired by classical literature such as Virgil’s Aeneid VI and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The classic association can be noticed by the idyllic, calm, luminous light, the quiet image of pine trees and the rests of the ancient ruins. Salvator Rosa represents a different kind of landscape painting, namely a fantasy one, with the wild bare branches, the dark forest and the dramatic shadows foreshow the storm. I will present the provenience of the motif giving some examples of the images of both Sibyl and Apollo in fine art before the 17th century. My analysis of the two works will concentrate on both the color, composition of figures and other objects together with suggesting possible symbolic interpretations of those images and opening a discussion round following questions. Why does Apollo approach the prophetic Sybil? Can we find particular reasons for this motif’s popularity in 17th century? Can we uncover analogies to the current societies’ wide spread interest in future telling and prophecies?

Bio:

The Renaissance idea of human dignity and the idea of the active and the contemplative life are my great interests. I find as well rewarding creative writing and painting. I published a bilingual poetry book and my poetry are represented in some anthologies. I am a passionate, dedicated and motivated teacher with a strong belief and commitment to the value of education. I possess a master’s degree in education (University of Södertörn), Stockholm, Master of Arts with major in History of Ideas (Stockholm’s University) and Master of Scandinavian Languages and Culture. (University of Gdańsk). During last twenty years I have been teaching History of European Art, History of Ideas, Social Science and Swedish as a Second Language at primary and secondary schools in Stockholm and at adult education. I had as well an opportunity to teach quantitative and qualitative research methodologies in the field of education at University of Gdańsk. After moving to Australia, I had also the privilege to teach in Northern Territory at a bilingual school in Indigenous community. As a member of Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia, Renaissance Society of America, Australasian Association of Philosophy I have participated in various national and international conferences. 2020 I commenced my PhD project at Charles Darwin University entitled, Jan ze Trzciany, Arudinensis, The concept of Human Dignity in Polish Renaissance.

From the Arcane to Anonymous, digital secret telling and the ethics of the era

Subterfuge, the term for deceit applied to achieve our goals can be considered an ethical grey area. From engendering mystery for intellectual curiosity, to attaining our goals either literary or literal – to inspire action via subterfuge invites consequentialism. If the consequence inspires betterment, then we have met a masterful genius of their craft. However, our author may very well be agent provocateur and by equipping the succumbed with ill met intention they culminate misfortune and the ends have not justified the means on those occasions.

We know that deontologically speaking, we need not judge the ends, but rather the means themselves. This paper reviews the advances made in information sciences and technology to offer insights for the literary community when it comes to digital anonymity and authorship. It grapples with the ethical dilemma posed by these advances and how online anonymous conspirators and their novella are being uncloaked. Ephemerality in digital secret telling is explored for without this how can the digital self we cast when using technology be both incognito and authentic as required?

Today we wear secrecy as it suits, and in fact rely on this more than ever before. The ethos of the era today is chromatic, with anonymity, privacy, and that very mystery the mind pines for being central to our digital daily lives. When both the author and the literature can be enciphered, we risk losing meaning of mystery.

Bio:

Gary Leigh is an occasional lecturer at Charles Darwin University having lectured topics such as War, Revolution and Terror, Political Ideas and Humanitarian Action. His ala mater is the Australian National University in Security Studies. He observed ethical leadership whilst at Ormond College under Rufus Black now VC of the University of Tasmania and gained his appreciation for the ethics and engineering of information science and technology from the University of Melbourne’s School of Computing and Information Systems.

Elisions of Labour, Carework and the “Radical Centre”: Reading Liberal Social Media Activism.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the surface a renewed concern with “care”. The labour of care – carework – has a history of discursive elision, however, and discourses produced by contemporary activists that circulate widely on social media still tend to invisibilise care and other categories of reproductive labour, despite their ostensibly radical intent and their focus on self-development and actualisation.

In reading the social media discourse produced during the pandemic by two prominent figures of the “radical centre” – Clementine Ford from the “liberal-left” and Jordan Peterson from the “liberal-right” – we can trace a pattern of elisions. In both cases, labour as a concept rich enough to account for carework and other processes of social reproduction is structurally absent. We might expect this in Peterson’s case, however the discursive tendencies of liberalism also emaciate more “radical” visions: the material necessity of life-forming and sustaining labour practices remain hidden.

Drawing on Derrida’s notion of hauntology, I will outline a method of reading that can reveal how discourses of the radical centre are tendentially structured by the elision of a rich and multifaceted concept of labour. This leads us to a perhaps insoluble question: to what extent are the authors – and receivers – of these discourses complicit in a covert project of silencing or censorship? Even if we cannot answer it, posing this question highlights the strange dialectic between carework’s ontological primacy and discursive invisibility. How – and why – does the radical centre’s discourse reveal and/or conceal structural cultural practices and emancipatory conceptual framings? Can contemporary liberal discourse in fact proceed only by concealing and censoring; by withstanding the conceptual contamination that necessarily occurs when we properly consider carework and the labour that sustains “the fleshy, messy and indeterminate stuff of everyday life”?

Bio:

Paddy Gordon is a PhD candidate at Victoria University. He previously completed his Masters – on the impacts of human capital theory on subjectivity – at the same university in 2020. His work has appeared in the Journal of Language, Literature and Culture (winning the Sussex Samuel prize for early career researchers), New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry, Arena, Overland and Critical Studies in Improvisation. His research applies a Marxist lens to cultural studies and discourse analysis: his doctoral thesis is an investigation of the positionality of human labour in contemporary liberal discourses. 

Secrets and Silences of the Digital Literary Archive

The book as a concept and as a material textual object adds layers of meaning to a reading of literary works and textual media, layers that complement or perhaps detract from the content or context of the work as well as the experience of reading it. In the work of digitization – work that might include policy and planning work, preparing for the creation of digital facsimiles, OCR correction, platform and software development, usability testing, metadata work, storage and digital preservation – secrets and silences are revealed, papered over, mitigated, exacerbated and reinscribed in multiple and diverse ways.

This paper applies an interdisciplinary approach, that includes digital/literary studies, media archaeology, reading, and critical infrastructure studies, to think through the layers of access and exclusion, opportunity and abjection in digitization work for literary reading experiences. It asks what surface reading might mean when the surface is a screen – literally and figuratively – and where we can locate and critique the pleasures of digital reading. These infrastructural constraints for the reading of literary works reveal prior readers and their interpretations and inscriptions, and this adds new dimensions to the debate about paper versus screen reading or the role of importance of preservation and access in driving new textual environments. The paper asks what readers are present or absent in the digitized textual repositories that are themselves government by policies for digitization that maintain secrets and silences in different ways and to different ends.

Bio:

Dr Tully Barnett is a senior lecturer in creative industries at Flinders University in South Australia, and Deputy Director of the Assemblage Centre of Creative Arts. She is an interdisciplinary scholar who works across externally funded projects on digitization as a cultural practice and ways of understanding the value of arts and culture beyond economic impact. She is the co-author of What Matters? Talking Value in Australian Culture (2018, Monash UP with Julian Meyrick and Robert Phiddian). She serves on the boards of the Australasian Association for Digital Humanities and the Australasian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres.

Truth be told: older women in contemporary literary fiction

Charlotte Wood’s The Weekend and Melanie Cheng’s Room for a Stranger, both published in 2019, present fictional accounts of women in their 70s negotiating their identities, relationships, health and relevancy in the world post-workforce participation. Both are written by women much younger than their 70s. Literary fiction can give a secret insight into anxieties felt about age via the ways authors depict women beyond mid-life. By employing omniscient narration in these novels, which tends to stand in for the voice of a society and the voice of a generation, and through a variety of (c)overt, reproduceable, stereotypical strategies, both authors project a rather negative view of female ageing from their vantage point of midlife. In doing so, do Wood and Cheng privilege the creative over the fair in their depiction of women whose lived experience is very different from their own? Do they use irony or sentimentality in the narrative voice to highlight the negative ways society thinks about ageing women’s lives and bodies? Do they inject the narrative with their own anxieties about ageing?

In this moment of heightened awareness of marginalised groups and the importance of representation from the point of lived experience, this paper explores some complexities of depicting age through different kinds of narration. It explores recurring (c)overt literary strategies that reveal a schism between subterfuge and truth in portrayals of ageing women in contemporary literary fiction and it asks whether surface reading, rather than a more suspicious reading, lets the authors off the hook for depicting older women in ageist ways.

Bio:

Rebecca Carpenter-Mew is a PhD Candidate in English in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Flinders University. Her research explores the ways in which literary fiction has problems with its depiction of the older woman. Given the wokeness of the current moment, how can this be so? Rebecca outlines the inherent limits of literary fiction and the recurring narrative strategies authors use to convey female ageing. She examines key elements of some texts, both fiction and creative non-fiction, that differ in their presentation of the older woman whereby some offer more dynamic, interesting depictions of midlife and beyond.

About her, without her: giving voice to female victims in true crime writing

Saving Lives telling stories: Nepali people’s struggle for democracy and the Dramaturgy of Protest

From ancient times to the present, different dictators have risen and fallen in Nepal. From 1846 to 1951, Rana oligarchy ruled Nepal for 104 years reducing kings to ineffectual figureheads. Inherited Rana Prime minister ruled ruthlessly depriving people of basic rights. They didn’t allow people to be literate fearing that people will fight against them. King Tribhuvan restored democracy with the help of Nepali people home and abroad. But his son King Mahendra nipped the democracy in the bud and introduced party less Panchayat system in 1960. Again, people braved bullets, took to the street, told stories “Differently” to make people aware, which is known as Janaandolan I (people’s movement I) and restored democracy in 1990. Again in 2005, King Gyanendra, who became king after Royal massacre in 2001, carried out a coup d’état, overthrew the democratically elected government and formed council of ministers in his own chairmanship. Similarly, he declared a state of emergency and dissolved the parliament of Nepal. The members of the parliament were put under house arrest, key constitutional rights were suspended, soldiers enforced complete censorship, and communication were cut. But still, people, at the cost of their lives, didn’t hesitate to communicate ‘symbolically’ and continued their fight for democracy. Thus, in this paper, I will focus on how literary writers and political activists “adopted, adapted” communication strategy amidst Gyanendra’s repressive regime and helped in Nepali people’s struggle for democracy that ultimately brought an end to 240 years old monarchy and Nepal became a Federal Democratic Republic.

Bio:

Jiva Nath Lamsal is PhD candidate at the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies and sessional academic at the University of Sydney. Before joining the University of Sydney to pursue his PhD study in 2019, he worked as a lecturer at the Central Department of English, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal, where he completed his MA and M.Phil. degrees in Literary Studies. He has published his research in Literary Studies, Crosscurrents: A Journal of Language, Literature and Literary Theory, The Journal of Ritual Studies and Indian Theatre Journal. He is a member of the Association of Progressive Intellectual, Nepal (APIN); Literary Association of Nepal (LAN), Folklore Society of Nepal, Linguistic Society of Nepal, Nepal English Language Teachers Association (NELTA). His areas of scholarly interest include South/Asian Theatre; Classic Sanskrti Theatre; Anthropological approach to Theatre and Performance Studies; Politics, Performance and Power; Theatre for Social Justice; Intercultural theatrical interaction between the East and the West; Postcolonial theatre; Theatre history and Performance Theories; Performance and Rhetorics etc.

Political Taboos, Silence, and Refusing to Forget: The Struggle to remember Wiji Thukul, Indonesia’s Murdered Poet-Activist

Modern Indonesia has been shaped killings, torture and disappearances, as well as the associated political taboos and silences. The military regime of Major-General Soeharto (1966 -1998) stands at the fulcrum of this bloody history. Almost a quarter of a century since the fall of his regime, survivors’ and their families continue to struggle to challenge the legacy of abuse. This paper focuses on the case of Wiji Thukul, a disappeared poet-activist, whose life and work continues to inspire progressive Indonesians, decades after he spearheaded a democratic movement that helped topple Suharto’s dictatorship in 1998. It translates for a non-Indonesian audience his life trajectory, as sign-posted by a creative praxis that gave voice to working class people like himself. It then asserts that remembering Thukul has helped energise and galvanise a re-emerging left’s efforts to advance Indonesia’s conflicted and fragile democratising project. We chart how he has come to be an underground icon of contemporary cultural activism and public discourse on unresolved human rights abuses, notably through the ‘refusing to forget’ movement, which has been integral to resisting the return of New Order-style authoritarianism. Beyond this, we examine how his memory has been translated for a new generation that never experienced the Suharto regime and argue for the importance of Thukul in an international context.

Bio:

Dr. Stephen Miller is a lecturer in the College of Indigenous Futures, Education & the Arts at Charles Darwin University. He previously lectured in Indonesian studies at the University of New England, the University of Tasmania, and the University of the Sunshine Coast, as well as lecturing in Social Theory and Academic Literacy at Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia.

Dr. Richard Curtis is an independent scholar who previously lectured in Indonesian Studies at Charles Darwin University and the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Rifka Sibarani is a PhD candidate at Charles Darwin University. Previously she lectured in Communication Studies at Atma Jaya University, Jogjakarta, Indonesia.

Secrets, lies and videotape: subterfuge and silencing in Tibetan testimonial literature

This paper will explore the connections and tensions between secrets, subterfuge, and silence in Tibetan testimonial literature and practices.

Within the Tibetan diaspora, since the early 1960s, the gathering, production and circulation of testimonial accounts of rights abuses, dispossession, displacement, oppression, resistance, imprisonment, and tortures has been central to attempts to overcome PRC state-sanctioned silencing of Tibetan experience within the homeland. These testimonial narratives are circulated as part of international claims and campaigns for Tibetan collective rights to identity, sovereignty and self-determination, as well as individual human rights. As such, questions of truth, authenticity, and the evidentiary status of these accounts have been important.

Testimonial narration is about truth telling: speaking out, finding voice, to narrate, uncover and expose what has been hidden, secret, or silenced. At the same time however, within Tibetan refugee accounts are myriad examples of subterfuge and secrets that make possible this overcoming of silencing and the ultimate telling of truths. Common to those in situations of oppression and resistance, Tibetan accounts frequently detail how the narrators have engaged in lies, deceptions, subterfuge and secrets, in order to resist the colonising state, or escape to tell their stories, or smuggle out the stories of others.

This paper considers the way these necessary deceptions make possible the telling of truths. Beyond this, however, what is the narrative or ethical significance of these deceptions? Does the necessity of secrets and subterfuge intensify the sense of silencing, adding moral force or weight to the telling?

Bio:

Dr Julie Fletcher is Senior Lecturer in Humanities and Social Sciences, First Year College, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia. Her primary research interests are in the area of cultural politics, life narrative, testimony, and collective and human rights. Her current research includes projects on testimonial narrative practices as rights-based, transnational political action in the Tibetan refugee community, and life narrative and contested land use among fell farmers in the English Lake District. Julie has published and presented her work nationally and internationally in the fields of literature, Tibetan studies, auto/biography studies, sociology of law, diaspora studies, and Asian studies.