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Originally Taught: Unknown

Albert Camus writes that ‘if art insists on being a luxury, it will also be a lie.’ But in this neo-colonial Australasian context of tennis matches, poetry scams and Angry Penguins, the question of authenticity is not quite as clear-cut. In this multi-modal lecture series, we will think deeply and collaboratively about our roles as artists and consumers, to conceptualise an Australasian poetics from the beginnings of coloniality to the late capitalocene.

Lecture 1: The Art of History

We will commence this series by drawing a collaborative history of art and poetics in Australasia, broadly construed, from the colonial period to the present day. The introductory class will be run as an interactive lecture, and each student is encouraged (though not required) to bring a poem, short recording or art image from the Australasian context (1900 – 2022) to build a collective content landscape of works from which we will draw throughout the course.

Lecture 2: The Art of the Deal

The second week brings us forward to 20th Century Australian art, particularly in Melbourne, via Pi O’s epic poetic work Heide. First, we will look at the Ern Malley scandal in historical context and the role of early Australian literary journals like Angry Penguins to establish a sense of early Australian modernist poetics. This will give way to class discussion on representations of Australasian identity in art, contrasting works by Sidney Nolan, Joy Hester, Mia Boe and Vincent Namatjira. In the second hour, Pi O will read us some poems, then should stick around for some broader class discussion on Australian art history.

Lecture 3: The Art of Inheritance

This third lecture will focus on the inheritances of contemporary Australasian poetry, beginning with a reading by Lucy Van, followed by a Q&A on identity, art, fascism and coloniality in the present context. In the second hour, we will continue these conversations through reading and discussing works by Ellen van Neerven, Bella Li, Rebecca Hawkes, Ursula Robinson-Shaw and Tayi Tibble to explore the themes of pastoralism, imperialism and urban identity in Australasia.

  • Hawkes, Rebecca. "Hardcore Pastorals: Vii.". Cordite 2022, no. 27/05 (2021).
  • Van, Lucy. The Open. Cordite Books. Edited by Merlinda Bobis. Maryborough, Victoria: McPherson's Printing, 2021.
  • van Neerven, Ellen. "Treaty of Shared Power between Throat's Reader and Author." In Throat, edited by Ellen van Neerven, 60-1. Queensland: University of Queensland Press, 2020.

Lecture 4: The Art of the Narrative

In this fourth week we continue thinking about representations of subjectivity in Australasian poetics. We will begin by considering the ways political narratives have informed notions of identity in Australia via early 20th Century tourism videos, Invasion Day political marketing, and the gormless subjecthood of the blameless Aussie battler. For the second hour we will be joined by Ursula Robinson-Shaw to delve into the complexities of contemporary Australian fiction. This discussion will further examine subjecthood, universalism and identity posturing in Australian literature.

Lecture 5: The Art of the Myth

In this final class, we will be joined by Caitlyn Lesiuk for a short guest lecture on art and poetry in Alain Badiou, in connection to mythology, political action and the construction of reality, particularly in the Australasian context. We will then think through this means of constructing reality with Caitlyn and Justin Clemens, with whom we will speak on the great Australian art of political mythology. The final hour of this session will involve a full class discussion on one topic from each week of the course to conclude the general course content.