CASS Inaugural Professorial Lecture Series
Upcoming Professorial Lectures
Past Professorial Lectures
This series celebrates and welcomes Professorial appointments to the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences.
Our professoriate are exemplified by their research excellence and outstanding leadership. Newly appointed and promoted professors celebrate this milestone by presenting their research to the college allowing opportunities for interdisciplinary engagement.
For information on the Professorial Lecture Series, please contact Meg Sawtell.
The emergence of complex behaviour: Examples from ancient Southeast Asia
9 August 2017
This presentation explores the evidence for the emergence of complex behaviour in the past, using Southeast Asia as an illustrative example. I ask what defines complexity in an archaeological sense and discuss this in terms of evidence for major archaeologically visible changes in human behaviour over time. After an over view of the population history of the region, I look at the rise of high density hunter-gatherer communities in northern Southeast Asia (southern China and northern Vietnam). The reasons for their success, and ultimate failure, are contrasted with the emergence of the first farming communities, and concomitant massive demographic changes, in the same region. Throughout the discussion of the emergence of complex behaviours I look to potential environmental (e.g. climate volatility and the effects of documented temperature rises of 2 to 4oC between 8-3,000 years ago) and anthropogenic (e.g. land clearance, wild plant and animal management) factors. Finally, I ask if any salutary lessons can be drawn from our nearest neighbours that adapted to and lived with the effects of climate change thousands of years ago.
Is Australian History Still Possible? Australia and the Global Eighties
10 May 2017
Is it still possible to write a history of a nation-state in an age of globalisation? The lecture will explore this question by setting Australia's experience of the 1980s in comparative, transnational and global frames. How might we see the 1980s in the wider sweep of Australian and world history? What did Australia share with other nations in this era, and how was its experience distinctive? Did forces such as neoliberalism and globalisation obliterate or stimulate more localised identities? And why should the 1980s still matter today, in the age of Brexit and Trump? The lecture will argue for the possibility of a history of Australia that also pays due attention to the larger forces reshaping the modern nation-state and the wider world.
Evidence, absence and the beautiful failures of photography
22 March 2017
While photographs can be documents of reality as images translated from the world, they also carry ideas beyond their face value. The tension between photography’s evidentiary representation and its imaginative aptitude to prise open understanding for the viewer is a fine line. Discussing current research interests I consider photography’s capacity to raise subject matter that lies outside the image, and how making and writing about images can galvanise thinking. One research interest addresses global warming’s influence on the Australian alpine environment, which I’ve continued to photograph during long and short winters over many years. I will survey various photographic series on climate change, place and visibility, drawing attention to the aesthetics of affect, erasure and absence. I will discuss Celestial Spaces, my exhibition on the nineteenth century Chinese miners of Kiandra also focused on erasure and gaps in recognition. Acknowledging photography’s limitations is to understand it may not always hold answers. However photography is brilliant at posing questions.
Anti-gender campaigns, freedom and education about gender and sexuality in Australian schools
2 March 2017
Research is being conducted on diverse anti-gender mobilization campaigns in Europe (Kuhar and Paternotte; forthcoming). Building on and expanding this research, my lecture looks at how anti-gender campaigners are mobilizing in the Australian context. I consider how ideas and tactics from diverse European campaigns may inform Australian campaigns. My specific focus is on how anti-gender campaigners are seeking to influence the provision of education about gender and sexuality in Australian schools. Drawing on Eric Fassin’s study of gender norms and sexual democracy (2011) in France, I consider how anti-gender campaigners deploy “common sense” understandings of gender in order to oppose discussions of gender, sexuality and diversity in education. I also touch on the challenges of negotiating diverse gender perspectives in ways that can attend to religious freedom and sexual freedom.
Where are the Mozarts of Today? An Analysis of the Condition of Classical Music Culture Through Discourse and Creative Research
9 November 2016
Is it possible to achieve historical greatness to the extent of a Mozart or Beethoven in the present day?
What purpose does classical music serve in the modern age?
Will our current crop of music stars become the Mozarts of tomorrow?
"Where are the Mozarts of Today" is an examination through lecture and creative research into the question of the relevance and condition of the culture of classical music today.
If you missed this lecture, click here to watch now.
The Periodical Enlightenment & Romantic Literature
22 June 2016
The opening decades of the nineteenth century, which we know as the Age of Romanticism in Britain, was also the great age of periodical literature – The Periodical Enlightenment – at the centre of which were the Edinburgh Review (est. 1802), the Quarterly Review (1809),Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine (or Maga) (1817), and the Westminster Review (1824), each offering a politically-inflected conspectus of current knowledge and creative literature that was often aggressively argumentative and assumed greater authority than either the author or the reader.
The big Reviews were by no means the only places where the Romantic reader could find clever, scathing, but often well-informed and well-argued reviews, which contributed to the high degree of literary self-consciousness we associate with Romantic literature.
This lecture looked at the phenomenon of critical reviewing during the Periodical Enlightenment (aka the Romantic period), at the mythologies that grew up around critical reviewing as an institution, and at some of the ramifications of its severity for the evolution of creative literature.
If you missed this lecture, click here to watch now.
Responding to Global Poverty: Harm, Responsibility, and Agency
23 March 2016
The first CASS Inaugural Professorial Lecture (Responding to Global Poverty: Harm, Responsibility, and Agency) celebrated Christian Barry of the School of Philosophy, Research School of Social Sciences, who asked:
- What is the nature of our responsibilities to poor people abroad?
- How much can these responsibilities demand of us?
- What are the implications of our failing to do what we ought to do?
This lecture explored these questions and proposed some answers.