MAJOR HACK 2019 winners announced

Major Hack 2019 lecture session

Congratulations to the winners of our MAJOR HACK 2019 challenge: Mehul, Claire and Elisa.

In July 2019, we hosted our first humanities hackathon – MAJOR HACK 2019. Year 11 and 12 students travelled from across the country to our Parkville campus to learn more about Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

Attendees worked in groups to respond to a provocation drawn from the play: craft a communications plan for either the Triumvirate or the conspirators after the assassination of Julius Caesar.

MAJOR HACK 2019 explored ideas of fake news, source texts and political communications through a series of lectures, digital assets and workshops.

We asked the members of our winning group to respond individually to a second provocation: craft a message to the general public, considering the final lines of the play: ‘So call the field to rest; and lets away, To part the glories of this happy day’.

Congratulations to our three prize winners.

  • First place: Mehul

    Mehul will receive an iPad Pro and a $100 Bell Shakespeare gift voucher.

  • Second place: Clare

    Clare will receive an Oculus Go and a $100 Bell Shakespeare gift voucher.

  • Third place: Elisa

    Elisa will receive a $200 Melbourne Theatre Company voucher and a $100 Bell Shakespeare gift voucher.

    Explanation

    For my provocation, I chose the side of Mark Antony because of his position in the public arena as a supporter of Caesar as well as an individual politician. Compared to Octavius, Antony has a stronger foundation to work off of, as he is already a prominent political figure as well as more closely resembling politicians of today, which is the era my response is appropriate to.

    The form, a series of tweets, intends to emulate how Donald Trump spreads his messages so they resemble his tweets in style. His use of Twitter in comparison to any other social media platform means that he must keep his messages concise and carefully crafted due to the character limit. Regardless of how I feel about his ideology, it is undeniable that Trump is a powerful communicator. After some research into how he speaks and writes, it became clear that the reason for his popularity is that his speech and writing is accessible to a wide range of people because it is usually in short sentences that often end in strong memorable words. He doesn’t leave any space for ambiguity with regards to how the reader should feel as he’s expressive with his use of exclamation marks and emotive yet simple language.

    There are some unquestionable similarities between Mark Antony and Donald Trump in terms of their manipulation of the public, and even direct links such as that between Antony’s speech at Caesar’s funeral and Trump’s victory speech in Nevada wherein he claimed to “love the poorly educated”. They both have similar strategies of controlling what the public thinks of them as well as others, especially their opponents whom they often alienate and vilify. It therefore follows that if Antony were to exist in a time when Twitter is around and has an account, his tweets would be of similar nature to Trump’s.

    However, unlike the majority of Trump’s tweets, these are not defensive as that is not appropriate in the given situation. Instead, they aim to unite the public in their aversion to the conspirators by inciting feelings of anger and frustration for the suffering that they have made the Roman society endure. The ultimate aim of the tweets, however, is for Antony to create a fa├žade of peacekeeping and having the public’s interests at heart, presenting himself almost in a heroic light. He thereby builds the public’s trust in him, as that is sure to help him in ultimately overthrowing Octavius and ruling Rome himself. This method is preferable to directly fighting Octavius, since he (Octavius) already has considerable power at this point in time and even if he were to succeed, without the masses under his control, he would not have much power over them anyway.

    Antony hopes that eventually, the public themselves will drive Octavius out of the city. That way he, as an individual, will not be seen as a villain by anyone, as his influence on them has been primarily subconscious, but he will be left as Octavius’ heir and therefore achieve his goal.

    Elisa tweet
    Elisa tweet
    Elisa tweet
    Elisa tweet
    Elisa tweet
    Elisa tweet

Academic champion and Senior Lecturer in Shakespeare Studies Dr David McInnis said that the overall quality of submissions was impressive.

“It was great to see the students thinking critically about Julius Caesar and seeing it from different perspectives. In a world of alternative facts and spin, the play helps us grasp complexity and expose manipulation – something evident in all six submissions,” he said.

The next edition of MAJOR HACK will run in July 2020 for Year 11 and 12 students.

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Image: Student participants present their solutions at MAJOR HACK 2019. Photo: David Hannah.