CCLCS Seminar Series
Download recordings of papers from the links below. For more recordings, see our podcasting page.
Changing the Climate: The Politics of Dystopia
This paper aims to test the adequacy of various theoretical approaches to utopian studies and science fiction studies – especially those drawn from the work of Darko Suvin, Raymond Williams and Fredric Jameson – to an understandinng of the history of Australian science-fictional dystopias. It argues that science fiction cannot readily be assimilated into either high literature (as utopia) or popular fiction (as genre) and rejects the widespread prejudice against both science fiction and dystopia in much contemporary academic literary and cultural criticism. It concludes that science fiction, whether utopian or dystopian, is as good a place as any for thought experiments about the politics of climate change, a case made with special reference to the late George Turner’s 1987 novel The Sea and Summer.
Andrew Milner is Professor and Deputy Director of the Centre for Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies. His recent publications include Re-Imagining Cultural Studies (2002), Contemporary Cultural Theory (2002) and Literature, Culture and Society (2005). His Tenses of Imagination is currently in press with Peter Lang.
‘Come Forth Into The Light Of Things’: Material Spirit And Negative Ecopoetics
In a poem from 1937 addressed to future generations, Bertold Brecht famously declared that to engage in a conversation about trees was almost
Kate Rigby is Associate Professor in Comparative Literature. Her publications include Out of the Shadows: Contemporary German Feminist Theory
Certitude and Linguistic Play in Chinese Critical Inquiry
This paper deals with the language of Chinese intellectual discourse and explores its dynamism as a discourse that is radically cosmopolitan
Gloria Davies is Associate Professor in Chinese. Her publications include Voicing Concerns (2001), Globalization in the Asian Region (2004),
Future Narrative: Interactivity, Computer Games and the Authorship of Fantasy
The success and proliferation of computer games has stimulated considerable interest among narratologists because some games appear to offer
Chris Worth is Director of the Centre for Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies. His publications include Postmodern Conditions (1990),
Something’s Missing: John Banville’s Wary Aestheticism
References to art and artists recur in John Banville’s writing. In structure too his novels are metafictional in that they draw attention to their own artistic texture. While Banville’s self-conscious aestheticisation of the world in the novel points to the captured evocative moment, it also plays out the failure of the ideal; its deception, its alienation from material being. In this paper I look into this wary aestheticism as it appears in The Sea. Further, I investigate it in terms that Ernst Bloch proposed for the utopian insight of literature, the “anticipatory illumination”. In The Sea we can glimpse both the liberation offered in the aesthetic and the slip towards an “ethereal and empty realm of freedom”, identified as art’s dangerous obverse. The Sea, like Banville’s other works, can be read as a cultural response to a process of social transformation – the abstraction of the social in the generalisation of the intellectual form of life – which contains its own utopian promise but which also entails particular diminutions of social being.
Matthew Ryan lectures in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies. His publications include Imagining the Future (2006) and Demanding the Impossible (2008). He is an editor of Arena Magazine.
Four or Five Words in Derrida
The paper responds to Derrida’s Avouer – L’Impossible, one of Derrida’s last texts, and seeks to understand several crucial words in him (including ‘life’ and ‘faith’). A critique is offered of Derrida’s theory of ethics.
Professor Hart is Edwin B. Kyle Professor of Christian Studies at the University of Virginia and a former Director of the Centre for Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies. His many publications include: The Trespass of the Sign: Deconstruction, Theology and Philosophy (1988), Samuel Johnson and the Culture of Property (1999), The Dark Gaze: Maurice Blanchot and the Sacred (2004), Derrida and Religion (2004) and Counter-Experiences: Reading Jean-Luc Marion (2007).
The Return Journey—Rasa and the Aesthetics of Desire in Michael Ondaatje’s Poetry and Fiction
South Asian diasporic literature in English projects a rich vein of desire for spiritual restfulness in the globalised world. This paper
Chandani Lokuge is Director of the Centre for Postcolonial Writing at Monash. Her publications include two novels, If the Moon Smiled (2000)
On the Limits of Virtue and Duty—Kant and the Question of Friendship
This paper traces the points of overlap and separation whereby through the paradigm of friendship the morals and politics of Kant’s discourse can be reconsidered for its points of tension, undecidability and contradictory demands. Friendship is not discussed as an explicitly political concept in Kant or a form of relations that could be thought to found a politics. It is rather a topic that emerges by way of discussions on respect, intimacy, secrecy, public and private relations and analogically, through his discussion of social physics. Consequently, the paper will show how the question of friendship finds a place in the threshold between morality and politics, and so question the compatibility of Kant’s theory of politics with his claims on morality. In doing so it will look at two well-known discussions of Kant’s discourse on friendship, namely, the second half of Doctrine of Virtue and his “Lecture on Friendship”.
Blair McDonald is a PhD student in the Centre for Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, currently researching a thesis entitled Irreconciliations: Friendship and the Political.
The Writer as Genealogist—The Realist Poetics of Dostoevsky and Flaubert
The French Realist manifesto of 1840, Les français peints par eux-mêmes, and its Russian copy of 1841 (Russians portrayed from nature by
Millicent Vladiv-Glover is Associate Professor in Comparative Literature and Slavic Studies. Her publications include Narrative Principles in
Compelling Fictions: Spinoza and George Eliot on Belief and Faith
This paper is presented in three parts: Firstly, it offers an exposition of Spinoza’s views on belief and faith, including the role of
Moira Gatens is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney. Her publications include Feminism and Philosophy (1992), Imaginary Bodies:
From Flaubert to the Fantastique — Science Fiction and the Literary Field
Flaubert’s only historical novel, Salammbô, was published in 1862, a year before the first of Verne’s ‘Voyages Extraordinaire’, Cing semaines en ballon. For Jameson, this moment when the historical novel ceased to be ‘functional’ was the moment of the emergence of scince fiction. For Bourdieu, by contrast, the moment of Flaubert was that of the emergence of the modern ‘literary field’. This paper will analyse the place of science fiction in the genesis and structure of the modern literary field.
Andrew Milner is Professor and Deputy Director of the Centre. His publications include John Milton and the English Revolution (1981), Cultural Materialism (1993), Class (1999), Re-Imagining Cultural Studies (2002), Contemporary Cultural Theory (2002) and Literature, Culture and Society (2005). His Tenses of Imagination: Raymond Williams on Utopia, Dystopia and Science Fiction is in press with Peter Lang.
Metaphorology: a Beginner’s Guide
Robert Savage is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Centre. His publications include Imagining the Future: Utopia and Dystopia (2006), Moderne Begreifen: Zur Paradoxie eines sozioästhetischen Deutungsmusters (2007) and Hölderlin after the Catastrophe: Heidegger – Adorno – Brecht (2009).
Literature and Globalization — Some Thoughts on Translation and the Transnational
The paper has a dual focus: a critique of the institutionalization of literary studies in departments of national literature and a re-evaluation of the role of translation in literary studies.
David Roberts is Emeritus Professor in German Studies and a former Director of the Centre. His many publications include Art and Enlightenment: Aesthetic Theory after Adorno (1990), Reconstructing Theory: Gadamer, Habermas, Luhmann (1995), Canetti’s Counter-Image of Society (2004), Dialectic of Romanticism: A Critique of Modernism (2004). He is a member of the editorial board of Thesis Eleven.
Past and Present Conferences and Seminars
Visit our archives of conferences and seminars - recordings of many papers are available for download: