Contemporary Australian Cultural Practices

Cultural practices provide one key site for Australians to engage with issues that are significant to the nation and to national identity. Understanding the contribution of the cultural sector to new ways of being, identifying and representing Australia, both to itself and internationally, is vitally important to the vision of the nation.

This field of research will bring together current and new work across the following areas: literary studies, creative writing, theatre and performance studies, cinema, television, visual art, dance, publishing, new media, and social media. The aim is to develop and disseminate a sophisticated sense of contemporary cultural forms and practices in Australia, informing Australians' sense of their relationship to the nation and the world.

Bella Li, Land Before Lines,
2014 Photo: Nicholas

Justin Clemens, Australian Poetry today
This ARC funded Future Fellowship (2015-2018) project surveys the field of contemporary Australian poetry, its products, personnel, institutions, and processes. Through interviews with poets, publishers, booksellers, academics, editors and managers, as well as extensive archival research, it will provide the first major synoptic research into the state of Australian poetry today. This project aims to establish possible future directions for Australian poetry and its importance for Australian culture more generally.

Mark Davis, Elizabeth Driscoll, Sybil Nolan, Emmett Stinson, New tastemakers and Australia's post-digital literary culture
This ARC funded Discovery Project (2017-2019) aims to investigate the effect of digital technologies on taste-making in Australian literary culture. The project will examine how digital media and platforms such as eBooks, online forums, blogs and social media have changed how Australian literature is produced, distributed and consumed, and what this means for the future of Australian literature. The project expects to understand the effect of digital practices on Australian literary culture, and support the continued development and cultural significance of Australia's book industry in a globalised market for literature.

Lucy Guerin's Weather
with Talitha Maslin, Lillian
Steiner, Lee Serle. Credit:
Heidrun Lohr

Rachel Fensham and Denise Varney, AusStage, Phase 6, 2016: Australian live performance and the world - global networks, national culture, aesthetic transmission
This multi-institutional ARC LIEF Grant administered by the Flinders University of South Australia (2015-2016) will internationalise AusStage by: developing new methodologies for analysing aesthetic transmission between Australian and international artists; collaborating with international partners to share data and enable research across national borders; and extending the data set to support research on global markets, international distribution and cultural diplomacy. New developments will support innovative research on live performance of international significance and collaborations with international partners.

Rachel Fensham, Julian Meyrick, Joanne Tompkins, Maryrose Casey et al., Visualising venues in Australian live performance research
This multi-institutional ARC LIEF Grant administered by the Flinders University of South Australia (2017-2018) aims to construct a two- and three-dimensional visual interface and digital curatorial space, improving the existing AusStage open-access live performance database. This new interface, "Phase 6", will create visualisation infrastructure, map relationships between Australian artists, audiences and venues, and collaborate with leading performing arts collections to foster compatible models and projects. Expected benefits are better understanding of the physical parameters of live performance and improved decision-making for metropolitan and regional communities about managing theatre sites and venues.

Photo: John Greene,
Cut the Sky, Marrugeku,

Rachel Swain, Listening to Country: Indigenous Dance Dramaturgy in Remote Australia
This project is an ARC funded Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (2013-2017). Rachael Swain is a founding member and co artistic director (with Dalisa Pigram) of Marrugeku, whose productions are created in situ in remote Indigenous communities. She has curated Marrugeku's International Indigenous Choreographic Labs, exploring new choreographic pathways to contemporary intercultural and Indigenous dance, taking place in Sydney, Broome and Auckland (2009-2011). IICL4 was held in Toronto in 2014. Rachael was the dramaturge and creative producer for Marrugeku's Gudirr Gudirr which premiered at Dance Massive and is toured internationally 2013-2015. She directed the company's Listening to Country Lab in Broome in July 2013 as a key component of her ARC funding to further researching dramaturgy as deep mapping at a time of global environmental change. Marrugeku's latest work Cut the Sky (2015) premiered at Perth International Arts Festival followed by a regional tour to Mandurah, Broome, Mowanjum and Ardyaloon community, and internationally to Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium.

A Cheery Soul, Union
Theatre Repertory
Company, 1963. Credit:
Henry Talbot

Denise Varney, Patrick White and Australian Theatrical Modernism: from modern drama to contemporary performance
This ARC funded Discovery Project (2014-2016) addresses the question of Patrick White, a canonical but contentious novelist, whose contribution to Australian theatrical modernism is under-recognized. This new analysis of White that focuses on his drama and the numerous theatrical performances of his plays from 1961 to 2012 aims to develop a significant new narrative for Australian theatre that maps the journey from modern drama to contemporary performance. Drawing on the considerable archive of reviews, photographs and annotated scripts, this study of White's theatre aims to re-assess the impact of Patrick White on Australian modernism and reposition his work within a twenty-first century context of reception.