Historical Poetics Symposium – December, UNSW & WSU

a poem: historical poetics and the problem of exemplarity
Co-hosted by the Writing and Society Research Centre and the Centre for Modernism Studies Australia

13-15 December 2016 | UNSW, Randwick (Dec 13) and Western Sydney University, Bankstown Campus (Dec 14-15)

The central aim of this symposium is to test the notion of historical poetics against the idea of the individual poem. We will examine how the individual poem presents challenges both for a historical understanding of poetic form and for a formalist understanding of poetry’s history.

Keynote speakers:
Justin Clemens (Melbourne)
David Nowell Smith (UEA)
Meredith Martin (Princeton)

Convenors and Contact:
Ben Etherington ([email protected])
Sean Pryor ([email protected])

For more information, visit the symposium page.

Workshop: 24 Shocks a Second: the cinema of Michael Haneke

The Sydney Literature and Cinema Network is hosting a one-day workshop on the cinema of Michael Haneke, which is being held next week, on Thursday 3 November, at the University of Sydney. A program for the day can be viewed here: haneke-workshop-schedule

All are very welcome to the workshop. There is no registration fee, but for catering purposes, please register with an email to: [email protected]. Lunch will be provided.

Upcoming seminar: Performing 1971: Dorothy Hewett’s The Chapel Perilous, UNSW

All are welcome to the Centre for Modernism Studies in Australia’s sixth research seminar for 2016: Professor Nicole Moore (UNSW Canberra) will deliver a paper on ‘Dorothy Hewett’s The Chapel Perilous’, on Wednesday 19 October, 5:00-6:30pm in the Robert Webster Building, room 327. Drinks will be served; please forward to friends and potentially interested parties.

In a preface to the first published edition of The Chapel Perilous – Australian writer Dorothy Hewett’s best-known play – she notes of its heroine: “For many young women Sally Banner is the first modern liberated feminist in our literature: I believe this is an historical and literary accident”. In this paper I investigate the performative moment of The Chapel Perilous, which premiered at the Fortune Theatre in Perth on 21 January, 1971, in order to examine how this complexly controversial play indexes and allegorises its turbulent times.

1971 is at the apex of the period once described by historian Donald Horne as Australia’s Time of Hope: the year when the new social movements, including feminism and sexual liberation, gained mainstream consensus for transformative political and cultural change. Yet Hewett’s Sally Banner is a tragic figure, her liberation a chimera undone not only by the reactionary forces of church and state, and by the close control exercised in a judgmental community, but by her own limitations: her tortured failures as a woman and a poet. Her representativeness as a figure is an accident, moreover, according to Hewett, reflecting the effect on the creative process of what seemed to her to be determining social forces, as well as the play’s chequered performance history – the key question of whether Sally is required to bow at the play’s climax or allowed to stand.

This paper wants to tease out the ways in which such an ahistorical play, with its mythic structures, inter-medial experimentation and iconoclastic theatricality, becomes history, and precisely performative history, in so far as we conceive such retrospectively. Simultaneously, we can ask how this play represents, perhaps oppositely, a “literary accident”. What might we mean by the accidental literary? Developing these ideas for an essay in the Reading Australia project, this paper situates The Chapel Perilous in a complex of debates about the near contemporary, at once contesting and making the recent past for literary and performative history.

Australian Women’s Writing Symposium

Free event: The Retrospect: Australian Women’s Writing – A Symposium

1.00 pm – 7.30 pm, Thursday, 3 November 2016 | Dixson Room, State Library of NSW

In collaboration with the State Library of NSW and the Sydney Review of Books, the Writing and Society Research Centre are pleased to present a one-day symposium on Australian women’s writing.

The symposium brings together leading scholars and award-winning writers from across Australia to register and explore the contributions and legacy of nineteenth-century Australian women’s writing.

Speakers will consider a variety of Australian female writers publishing throughout the nineteenth century, as well as the broad range of genres within which these writers worked, including poetry, science fiction, the short story, and crime fiction.

The symposium will also include a special session on women’s children’s literature and education both past and present in Australia with author and NSW Ambassador for the Stella Prize Schools Program, Emily Maguire.

Confirmed speakers include: Prof. Susan K. Martin, (La Trobe), A/Prof. Tanya Dalziell (UWA), Prof. Elizabeth Webby (USyd), Dr. Lucy Sussex (La Trobe) and Dr. Anne Jamison (WSU).

The symposium will conclude with a roundtable discussion to reflect on the ongoing influence and legacy of Australia’s nineteenth-century women writers.

The roundtable includes contemporary writers Fiona Wright, Jessica White and Maggie Mackellar, who will discuss their own recent re-encounters with Barbara Baynton, Rosa Praed and Ada Cambridge for a forthcoming series of retrospective reviews in the Sydney Review of Books.

Registration is free but places are limited. To register, please email: [email protected]

This symposium is part of a wider collaborative project on nineteenth-century Australian women’s writing and has been funded by the State Library of NSW’s Nancy Keesing Fellowship, as well as a Western Sydney University Research Development Grant. In-kind support has also been generously provided by the Writing and Society Research Centre.

To view a draft program, visit the symposium website.

Free event: Queer Sentiments

This Friday, join an afternoon discussion and reading of Australian and U.S. queer poetry and poetics, with an emphasis on affective aspects, based around the visit of Professor Brian Reed, of the University of Washington in Seattle. The panel also features poet and scholar Assoc. Professor Kate Lilley, of the University of Sydney, and Dr Michael Farrell, Melbourne poet, co-editor of the lesbian and gay poetry anthology Out of the Box, and author of a recent book on colonial Australian poetics: Writing Australian Unsettlement. It is a unique event seeking to theorise and investigate relations between the queer history of Australian poetry with the contemporary; as well as correspondences – and differences – between Australia and the U.S.

The event will begin with a panel of papers, chaired by UNSW Art and Design’s Dr Astrid Lorange, poet and author of How Reading is Written: A Brief Index to Gertrude Stein, followed by discussion. There will be a short break followed by a poetry reading from all four speakers.

To be held at Io Myers Studio, UNSW Kensington, 3-6pm 9 September 2016. Jointly hosted by UNSWriting, Centre for Modernism Studies in Australia, UNSW Art & Design, School of the Arts & Media.

To reserve a seat, go to: https://sam.arts.unsw.edu.au/events/queer-sentiments/

Upcoming seminar: “Working with zombies, from Haiti to Wall Street”

All are very welcome to an upcoming seminar featuring Dr Sascha Morrell at the Writing & Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University. The seminar will be held on Friday, 12 August, from 11.00am -12.30pm in Building 3.G.55, Bankstown Campus, Western Sydney University.

This paper examines how the walking corpse and tropes of living death were used to represent the dehumanizing effects of repetitive, alienated labour in industrial, bureaucratic and plantation settings both prior to and after the passage of the Haitian zombie slave into U.S. culture via the publication of William Seabrook’s The Magic Island in 1929. Examining nineteenth-century and still earlier western precedent for twentieth-century appropriations of the Haitian folkloric figure provides fresh insight into how the Afro-Caribbean zombie interfused with western traditions of living death. Existing accounts of the zombie’s reception in Anglophone culture not only underestimate the extent to which the zombie was transformed upon entry by established traditions, but actually ascribe authenticity to aspects of zombie mythology that may be the product of a distorting western influence. For instance, the association of the Haitian zombie with organized labour seems to have been exaggerated in western representations of Haitian lore, including recent critical treatments. As well as shedding new light on the complex origins of the literary zombies of the early-twentieth century, my paper will briefly consider how the zombie’s subsequent evolution in popular culture into a figure of mindless consumerism and predatory capitalism might assist critics in (re)assessing the usefulness of “modernism” and “postmodernism” as critical categories.

Sascha Morrell studied Arts and Law at the University of Sydney and completed her PhD in English Literature at Trinity College, Cambridge. She has taught at the University of Cambridge, the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales, and was Visiting Research Scholar at New York University in Fall 2015. Dr Morrell is the co-editor of Flann O’Brien and Modernism (Bloomsbury 2014) and has published widely on American and modernist literatures while completing a book project on race, labor, historiography and visual culture in the fiction of William Faulkner, Herman Melville and others. She has a special interest in the appropriation of Haitian history and cultural motifs (including the zombie) in U.S. fiction, theatre and film. She is currently developing a project investigating connections between different ideas of ‘the south’ (including Australasian and other transpacific spaces) in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century U.S. literature.

Just launched: the BAMS Modernist Review

The British Association for Modernist Studies will now be hosting its own online space for new work in modernist studies, The Modernist Review.

The Modernist Review is designed to provide a platform for scholars and others with a keen interest in modernism to share emerging work across a range of interests.

We believe that accessible does not necessarily mean less rigorous. While we intend to make The Modernist Review an interesting read for non-academic audiences, we also want it to be a good place to share those research off-cuts that don’t really fit anywhere else.

If you’ve come across a curious book, poster, film or quotation which doesn’t work in your current project, this is where to send it. Similarly, if a late-night thought leaves you with a thousand words on the state of modernist studies, we’d like to see them.

Follow on twitter @modernistreview

Thank you,

Helen Saunders and Stephanie Boland (BAMS PGR reps)

Upcoming Session: New Zealand Modernist Studies Consortium

Dear colleagues,

The next session of the New Zealand Modernist Studies Consortium will take place on Friday 26 August at the University of Auckland. We’ll be joined this year by Associate Professor Marian Eide (Texas A & M) who will be workshopping a piece on “Modernist Magdalenes and Spinster Sisters.” If you would like to workshop a piece of your own work-in-progress at this session, please get in touch with me or with Jacob Edmond as soon as possible.

Details for our next bi-annual session:

University of Auckland
Room 206-710
Friday 26 August 2015
10:30 am to 4:30 pm
Lunch will be provided.

The NZMSC is open to academics and independent scholars (post-PhD only) working on any aspect of modernism, broadly defined. To register for this session, contact one of the co-organisers or register at http://blogs.arts.auckland.ac.nz/nzmsc

Erin G. Carlston
[email protected]
English, Writing Studies, and Drama
University of Auckland

Jacob Edmond
[email protected]
Department of English and Linguistics
University of Otago


Modernist Networks, a federation of digital projects in the field of modernist literary and cultural studies, was officially launched at the 2015 MSA conference in Boston. ModNets provides a vetting community for digital modernist scholarship and a technological infrastructure to support access to scholarship on modernist literature and culture. Please check out the site at http://www.modnets.org!


We are now actively seeking digital projects to join our federation. For information on our editorial board, our peer review process, and the kinds of projects we are looking for, see http://www.modnets.org/about/what-is-ModNets, or contact our project manager, Nikolaus Wasmoen, at [email protected].


Pamela Caughie and David Chinitz, Directors​