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November 2016

Welcome to the inaugaural edition of the Centre for 21st Century Humanities eNewsletter. This Newsletter will keep you updated and informed about our latest activities and achievements. 

The Enemies of Change: David Marr in Conversation with John Germov

On 17th November, the Centre for 21st Century Humanities hosted David Marr - Australian journalist, author and progressive political and social commentator. The event was held in the concert hall at UON’s Conservatorium and attended by over 300 people, including UON staff and members of the public.

David Marr has been exploring conservative strategies in Australian politics and society for most of his career and the theme of the event was the difficulty of enacting policy change in relation to key social issues. His conversation with Professor Germov, PVC FEDUA, probed current tensions in Australian society particularly around the theme of how reasonable fear is exploited by politicians and the media for political ends. Topics ranged from marriage equality, to euthanasia, to the resurrection of Hansonite ideology, and the ever-complex issue of asylum seekers and Australia’s immigration policy.

Marr’s wit and insightfulness charmed the audience, so obviously made up of his fans, and a vibrant Q & A with the gallery followed. C21CH was thrilled to host David, who gave of his time freely, and has since received plenty of feedback on the success of his visit. The event would not have happened without the hard work and dedication of staff of the FEDUA Research Unit and C21CH, especially Catherine Oddie who invited David, who was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Newcastle in 2011.

Humanities Startups wrap-up

On 27 and 28 October the UON Centre for 21st Century Humanities held a two-day Humanities Startups workshop.

There was interest from around twenty UON students and staff -- HDR candidates, recent graduates, academic and professional staff. There were 15 in the group on the first day for a brief coding course. This was followed by an expert panel session with Tim Davidson of Visualise Media and Virtual Perspective, Jack Elliott from the software startup Flamingo, and Sanjay Kalra, UON CDO, and then by a brainstorming session.

There were nine pitches on the second day, and the judges, A/Prof Ros Smith (chair), Trent Bagnall (Slingshot) and Jack Elliott then commented on each pitch and announced the winners.

The evaluations by participants were overwhelmingly positive. They commended the coding course, the opportunities to share ideas with other students and the experts, and “being in a creative space”. “The workshop was fantastic. I was so surprised at the ideas I had, the opportunities in digital HASS and networking with the university”.

The Centre was urged to organise “more events that enable student cross-disciplinary collaboration and this the formation of entrepreneurial teams. Aside from generating viable commercial entities and self-employment opportunities, I expect it will help with student engagement, research outputs and retention.”

The Centre will now sponsor four projects for the next stage of development. They are an online design consultancy; a living impersonation of Marie Antoinette in Maitland; an ethical ratings agency with a platform for redeployment from unethical to ethical enterprises; and a business offering haptic and visual recreations of concerts and recorded music for those with hearing loss. They all bring together humanities knowledge with business ideas and the reach and leverage of digital tools and platforms.

The workshop was held in the new Three76 Innovation Hub at 376 Hunter St., which was an ideal, flexible, stimulating venue. Thanks to Micky Pinkerton from the DCVR&I office for organising our access to Three76 and to Siobhan Curran for hosting us there.

Ground-breaking New Shakespeare Edition

Professsor Hugh Craig, Director of the Centre for 21st Century Humanities, is part of a team of leading Shakespeare scholars to contribute to the first edition of Shakespeare’s Complete Works to identify Christopher Marlowe as co-author.

Professor Craig argued the case for Marlowe’s collaboration in Parts 1 and 2 of Henry VI in a chapter in Shakespeare, Computers, and the Mystery of Authorship, co-edited with Arthur F. Kinney (Cambridge, 2009). A new chapter, written with another UON researcher, Emeritus Professor John Burrows, presents evidence that Marlowe was also involved in 3 Henry VI. This chapter will appear in the Authorship Companion to be published alongside the text volumes of the New Oxford Shakespeare.

Read Professor Hugh Craig in The Conversation

More Shakespeare sleuthing

History Walks

Two pilot history walks took place on a breezy Sunday in November this year, with around 20 participants in each. Sponsored by the Centre for 21st Century Humanities, UON historians Dr Nancy Cushing and Dr Ann Hardy, developed the walks in order to bring aspects of Newcastle’s heritage to light.

Cushing led the Crime and Punishment tour, which commenced at Newcastle’s newly opened $90 million Courthouse, a rightly imposing building which is contributing to the reinvigoration of the city’s civic heart, and travelled east along Hunter Street stopping at various locations to illuminate points of social heritage. The walk ended at Newcastle’s 1980s-built brutalist Police Station, where participants were treated to a rare insider tour by a rather jovial member of the constabulary.

The Radical Newcastle walk, led by Dr Hardy, was inspired by the 2015 book of essays by the same name, which was co-edited by Dr Cushing. During this walk, which began in Civic Park, participants were provided with stories about issues that inflamed Novocastrians, including the high profile Laman Street fig protests of recent times. An appearance by local historian Ross Edmonds, author of the Radical Newcastle chapter ‘The Silksworth Dispute’, brought an animated flavour to the tour. He enlightened participants with the lesser known story of a British vessel, the SS Silkworth, that docked in Newcastle in 1937 whereupon 36 Chinese crew sought asylum and refused to return to Japanese-occupied China for fear of certain death; some were smuggled to Sydney by communist sympathisers and others were thrown into gaol. The walk concluded at the Star Hotel, scene of the infamous, alcohol-fuelled youth riot in 1979, and a welcome finishing point at which many walkers chose to enjoy a refreshing beverage.

For more information see Hunter Living Histories .

More walks are planned and be sure to watch out for the RAD Exhibition at Newcastle Museum in 2017.

On a Fatal Shore

The School of Humanities and Social Science and the Centre for 21st Century Humanities hosted hosted a public event on November 3 highlighting Professor Victoria Haskins’s research on two European women who spent periods of time with Aboriginal groups in the nineteenth century.

In the pleasant surroundings of The Edwards on Parry St, Newcastle, Professor Lyndall Ryan interviewed Victoria about her findings. In the second half of the session there were questions from the audience. Two themes emerged: the importance of history in exposing alternative possibilities sometimes foreclosed by the course of events, in this case the open, charitable reception given by Indigenous people to individual incomers, and the warm response by one at least of the women studied; and the contrast between individual, intimate history of the kind presented by Victoria and the more large-scale, collective history more usual among professional historians.

Professor Haskins' research is presented in the soon-to-be-published, Living with the Locals, co-authored with another UON Professor, John Maynard.

This was another worthwhile and well received event in the School’s Re-Think series, led by Dr Hamish Ford, program convenor of the Bachelor of Arts.

Over $500,000 awarded to Renaissance literature researchers from three countries

Congratulations to Deputy Director of the Centre, Associate Professor Ros Smith and the Early Modern Women’s Writers Network on the award of more than $500,000 as a result of not one but two prestigious research grants from the Australian Research Council and the Marsden Fund in New Zealand. The two complementary projects involve the same international team members who plan to discover how early modern women used the widespread mode of complaint to voice expressions of protest and loss during the English Renaissance. Both projects will investigate women as writers, patrons and textual producers and consumers of the mode of complaint. The researchers expect to elucidate how the imagined voices of the disempowered shaped the literary and political cultures of early modern England. The success rate for Marsden funding is a tiny 10.7% so this is a really fantastic result for the Early Modern Women’s Writers Network and their reconceptualization of a mode in Renaissance literature will benefit Australia's standing at the forefront of research in early modern studies.

Australian Research Council Discovery Projects
Title: Early Modern Women and the Poetry of Complaint, 1540-1660.
Chief Investigator: A/Prof Rosalind Smith; Partner Investigators: Dr Sarah Ross; Prof Michelle O'Callaghan (University of Reading).

Mardsen Fund (NZ)
Title: ‘Woe is me': women and complaint in the English Renaissance
Chief Investigator: Dr Sarah Ross (Victoria University Wellington); Partner Investigators: A/Prof Rosalind Smith; Prof Michelle O'Callaghan.