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  • (2022) Hush, Anna
    For decades, feminists at Australian universities have fought to publicise and politicise the issue of campus sexual violence. These efforts have recently come to fruition, with universities publicly acknowledging the problem and undertaking various institutional reforms. However, there has been little scholarly attention paid to political struggles over sexual violence within universities. This thesis critically examines the politics of feminist activism against sexual violence at Australian university campuses. It situates this activism against the backdrop of the neoliberalisation of Australian universities, to reveal how feminists have challenged – and at times, acted in complicity with – these transformations in the landscape of Australian higher education. This analysis is both historical, drawing on archival material relating to the history of campus feminist politics, and contemporary, using data from interviews with students currently engaged in organising against sexual violence. It explores the strategies and tactics adopted by feminist collectives, the constraints on feminist mobilisation in the neoliberal university, and the shortcomings of these movements. This thesis makes two original contributions to knowledge. Firstly, it extends existing analyses of university sexual violence and contributes to the growing body of scholarship on this topic. Research on campus sexual violence in Australia has so far focused on policy analysis and prevalence data. While this provides an important basis for evaluating the scope of the problem and potential remedies, it is largely disconnected from political struggles over institutional responses to sexual violence, a gap this thesis seeks to fill. I offer an analysis of the historical and contemporary struggles that have created the conditions for institutional change, as well as the complex ways in which the neoliberal university undermines and constrains oppositional movements. Secondly, this thesis makes a theoretical contribution to the field of New and Feminist Institutionalism. It critically intervenes in the institutionalist field, drawing greater attention to the roles of macro-social contexts and actors in the form of social movements in processes of institutional change and proposing a framework that foregrounds these aspects of institutional politics. The findings of this research reveal significant limitations in Australian universities’ responses to sexual violence, with their actions falling short of both student demands and expert recommendations. I argue that these actions have largely functioned to consolidate managerial power and mitigate reputational risk, in doing so narrowing the space of political contestation. My analysis further illuminates the specific institutional constraints that bear upon student feminist organisers within the neoliberal university. This analysis offers strategic insights into feminist engagement with institutions, suggesting that student movements must develop the capacity to disrupt processes of institutional reproduction and challenge the reformist approach adopted by universities. A transformative response to campus sexual violence, I argue, will require broader and better-organised coalitions of staff and students in order to collectively challenge and overcome these constraints.

  • (2022) Alla, Albert
    This creative practice thesis investigates the relationship between the comic moment and comic works to ask how the need to make people laugh, time and time again, impacts the forms and subject-matters of comic works. Together, the two components of the thesis—the dissertation and the creative work—ultimately offer new insights into the comic form. Drawing on an analysis of comic moments in P.G. Wodehouse’s Crime Wave At Blandings (1936), the dissertation component of the thesis posits that understanding the comic as the result of a safe and sudden incongruity is an appropriate basis from which to start a study of the relationship between the single comic moment and comic works. This is because such an understanding aptly characterises the comic moments I study, and because it is possible to follow the expectations that are at the heart of one incongruity across many incongruities. Using the comic theories of Henri Bergson and Arthur Koestler, I propose that the comic author is fruitfully viewed as a weaver of incongruities, with the expectations being threads and the comic moments being knots. I investigate the usefulness of this paradigm through the analysis of two different comic sequences in Michael Frayn’s stage farce, Noises Off (1982). Turning to a sitcom, Steven Moffat’s highly inventive Coupling (2000), I then argue that Moffat’s many comic devices serve to create patterns of expectations that can be turned into patterns of incongruities. From this insight, I propose a theory of comic structure according to which comic works first set up the expectations that they then weave into a dense pattern of knots. This form, I then argue, helps characterise the elusive genre of farce, because it describes the structure of works that are recognised to be central to the genre. The creative component, a stage farce titled The Play That Explodes, seeks to demonstrate that the weaving paradigm can lead to new ways in which to densify the weave, and can encourage the exploration of fraught but meaningful societal debates. For the purposes of this demonstration, the creative component depicts four drama students tasked with devising a ten- minute play for their graduation show, and combines in a novel way a number of comic devices explored in the dissertation (e.g., a play-within-a-play and sharply delineated characters), with a new device based on a comic acting technique called orthogonality.

  • (2022) White, Kimberley
    This thesis contends that key leftist social movements of the 1960s and the canonical American novels that responded to them are best understood through a postsecular critical lens. Where scholars like Berlant opposed the secularism of sixties progressives to the religiosity of American conservatives, I instead interpret the dissident politics of the sixties, and the literature it inspired, as a heterogeneous blend of sacred and secular ideas. In doing so, I draw upon work in postsecular literary studies that insists modernity did not banish religion so much as make possible new spiritual experiences of emancipation. In formal terms, I argue that there exists a variant of the historical novel named the postsecular pilgrimage. A hybrid of Derrida’s spectral philosophy of history and Lukács’s theory of the classic historical novel, the postsecular pilgrimage figures popular uprisings as insurrections animated by faith in the messianic promises of past resistance movements. In postsecular pilgrimages, outsiders are summoned by a numinous call to obtain justice and journey to the sacred sites of democratic traditions to do battle with reactionary social forces. When successful, postsecular pilgrims attest to the power of militant faith to remake American society. When unsuccessful, postsecular pilgrims become martyrs whose defeats demand the creation of new modes of democratic struggle and survival. At the level of literary periodization, I argue that postsecular pilgrimages written by novelists active in sixties social movements retained a commitment to the discourse Bellah named American civil religion, while postsecular pilgrimages published by later generations of writers represent what I have called mystical anarchism. Where proselytes of civil religion remained convinced that outcast uprisings could radicalize the ideals and institutions of the American republic, adherents of mystical anarchism insisted that internal secession from the American state was the only path for radical democracy. If civil religion was celebrated in the novels of sixties icons like Mailer and Baldwin, it was opposed as an oppressive force in the texts of McCarthy, Morrison, and Pynchon. Yet, both generations of writers sought to embed contemporary rebellions in sacred traditions and all grounded secular resistance movements in experiences of spiritual awakening.

  • (2022) Olejnikova, Lenka
    Different perspectives exist in feminist IR regarding the compatibility of quantitative methods with feminist research. Initially, critical feminist scholars exhibited scepticism and apprehension regarding the use of quantitative methods in feminist research; nevertheless, many feminist scholars have since embraced these methods as an essential toolkit for validating feminist insights. However, the earlier concerns have been successfully resolved. As a result, these two strands of feminist IR research continue to exist largely independently from each other. In this thesis, I revisit this debate and assess the compatibility and utility of quantitative methods for distinctly critical feminist research. Specifically, I examine whether regression-based empirical models – a prevalent class of quantitative methods in IR – are capable of effectively capturing and evaluating the critical feminist understanding of gender. As a case in point, I use existing research on conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) and the concept of gender as it has been formulated in feminist scholarship on this topic. As I show, regression models cannot accurately represent the critical concept of gender as a power relation, severely limiting their compatibility with critical feminist research. Both regression modelling and concept operationalisation strategies contain a specification of gender as a variable which conceives of a very different nature and functions of gender than gender as a power relation. These conceptual differences, I argue, can be attributed to the different epistemological and ontological assumptions underlying these concepts. A simple synthesis of the critical feminist concept of gender and a regression-based empirical model results in a substantial inconsistency between the conceptualisations of gender in substantive theory and methods. Consequently, a research design that contains conflicting ontological and epistemological assumptions in substantive theory and methods suffers from a low internal consistency and validity since the results cannot provide evidential support to purported theoretical claims. These findings prompt us to reconsider the role of meta-theory in more practical terms and to assess the epistemic utility of methods in terms of their capacity to study the concepts of interest.

  • (2022) Zhou, Hao
    Contemporary immersive virtual reality (VR) technologies present significant potential for artists to expand their creative repertoire, and for art museums to facilitate exhibition delivery and visitor engagement. To date, studies in the field focus predominantly on identifying the affordances and constraints of VR for art museums and examining visitor experience in the virtual context, with little attention paid to artists as creators of VR works and their realities in the creative process. Illuminating artists’ experiences of ideation and creation helps develop insider’s perspectives beyond what can be determined from solely inspecting the finished works or their reception, and understand how the potentiality and novelty of VR are negotiated in practice and translated into meaningful installations. This research seeks to cast light on the creative practice with VR through three selected projects in the context of Australian art museums as case studies, exploring why and how the artists employed VR in their particular situations. Adopting a qualitative research paradigm and naturalistic inquiry approach, each case study follows a two-phase research design, conducting a review of literature that critiques the project and semi-structured interviews with artists in each phase respectively. Thematic analysis is applied to analyse interview data to derive meanings, patterns and embedded ideas from artists’ accounts. Within-case analysis has generated a detailed presentation of each project regarding its context, VR work(s) produced and the creative process. Led by the research questions, cross-case comparative analysis has established a range of themes and sub-themes (as manifestations of the themes in the case studies), which are integrated and presented as a table. These themes concern the affordances of VR valued by the artists that lead to their employment of the technologies, significant factors influencing their creative process, and key considerations underlying their conceptualisation of VR works and adoption of corresponding approaches. This research contributes new knowledge to understanding artist’s practice in making VR installations, by revealing a range of significant and commonly encountered elements characterising the creative practice, and their contextualised manifestations in the particular case projects. The findings provide art practitioners with a set of considerations for future engagement with VR.

  • (2022) Eusuf, Muhammad Saadmann R Sabeek
    The year 2020 started with more than 100 fires burning across Australia. Bushfire is a phenomenon that cannot be mitigated completely by human intervention; however, better management practices can help counter the increasing severity of fires. Hazard Reduction (HR) burning has become one of the resolute applications in the management of fire-prone ecosystems worldwide, where certain vegetation is deliberately burned under controlled circumstances to thin the fuel to reduce the severity of the bushfires. As the climate changes drastically, the severity of fires is predicted to increase in the coming years. Therefore, it becomes increasingly important to investigate automatic approaches to prevent, reduce and monitor the cause and movement of bushfires. Methods of assessing FL levels in Australia are commonly based on visual assessment guidelines, such as those described in the Overall Fuel Hazard Assessment Guide (OFHAG). The overall aim of this research is to investigate the use of LiDAR to estimate the volume of fuel load to assist in the planning of HR burning, an approach that could quantify the accumulation of elevated and near-surface FL with less time and cost. This research focuses on an innovative approach based on a voxel representation. A voxel is a volumetric pixel, a quantum unit of volume, and a numeric value of x, y and z to signify a value on a regular grid in a three-dimensional space. Voxels are beneficial for processing large pointcloud data and, specifically, computing volumes. Pointcloud data provides valuable three-dimensional information by capturing forest structural characteristics. The output of this research is to create a digitised map of the accumulation of fuel (vegetation) points at elevated fuel and near-surface fuel stratum based on the point density of the pointcloud dataset for Vermont Place Park, Newcastle, Australia. The output of this information is relayed through a digital map of fuel accumulation at elevated and near-surface fuel stratum. The result of this research provides a rough idea of where the highest amount of fuel is accumulated to assist in planning of an HR burn. This will help the fire practitioners/land managers determine at which location in the forest profile should be prioritised for HR burning. There is a short window to conduct HR burning that is why it is prevalent that a tool that can provide information on fuel at a fast pace could help the fire practitioner/land managers.

  • (2022) Osmond, Wendy
    The ways in which museums construct and negotiate visitor experience are being challenged by expanding and converging modes of spectatorship and representation. This thesis models the relationship between live performance and its exhibition through an examination of the recently emerged genre of the rock music exhibition. The study explores historical antecedents, contemporary practices and explanatory models relating to this phenomenon, arguing that while museums continue to be gathering places for shared encounters and immersive spectatorship, design choices for modes of representation are subject to rapid changes in sound and imaging technologies, and associated meanings of fidelity. Exhibition development practices in museums lack a shared language that accounts for the changing paradigms of knowledge production driving the popular music exhibition phenomenon, meaning that new approaches are required from designers. A case study analysis of the travelling exhibition The Making of Midnight Oil (2014–2017) examines one such project from my designer-researcher’s perspective. Interviews with members of the creative team in different venues, analyses of visitor contributions and design documentation, and a reflexive approach to the theory-practice nexus produce a granular account of the mediation of experience from production to reception. The rock exhibition is examined as a site of negotiable discourses of liveness, authenticity and power, in which design is a key agent of meaning-making. A blended social semiotic framework, newly applied to exhibition design, is used to describe the re-presentation of source phenomena in this emblematic multimodal space. The outcome is an explanatory model of possible responses to the challenge of mediating liveness in the museum, in which exhibition experience is modelled as a dialogic co-construction of gradable meanings between members of a multidisciplinary team, visitors, and institutional and social contexts that are distributed across on-site, off-site, and online places. By identifying how different design choices select certain truth criteria for fidelity of representation, this thesis provides a shared design lexicon of broadened choices for the mediation of live events: a re-imagining of the exhibition design brief as a Modality question. It is designed to foster increased understanding and cross-modal experimentation in interdisciplinary creative teams.

  • (2022) Nyholm, Melissa
    The Uluru Statement from the Heart was unanimously endorsed by 250 First Nations delegates in May 2017, culminating a year’s consultation with First Nations people around Australia (Referendum Council 2017a). The Statement calls for a First Nations Voice to Parliament, a Makarrata Commission to supervise agreement-making between governments and First Nations people and truth-telling about First Nations history. These calls for Voice, Treaty and Truth were not only made to the Australian government; the statement also seeks a response from the Australian people (Referendum Council 2017b). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content was mandated in Australia’s inaugural national curriculum, announced in 2008. The national curriculum resulted from increasing global economic pressures and growing federal education influence. This thesis assesses Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander curriculum content in the context of more recent developments in Indigenous-settler relations through the Uluru Statement: how can school curriculum contribute to self-determination, sovereignty and truth-telling? The research involved two complementary parts: analysis of selected Australian curriculum policies and conversations with First Nations educators. Poststructural analysis of the Australian goals of schooling and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cross-curriculum framework considered how curriculum policies reflect and construct Indigenous-settler relations. The second component privileged the voices of six senior First Nations educators at the forefront of integrating Indigenous knowledge and culture in school and/or tertiary curriculum and research in Indigenous Studies and other disciplines. Thematic analysis synthesises the experience and advice of these First Nations educators to provide guidance for truth-telling, self-determination and sovereignty within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander curriculum. The research clearly points to a need for change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander curriculum development. Recommendations to support truth-telling and contribute to First Nations self-determination and sovereignty through curriculum are provided for curriculum writers and policy makers. Curriculum that tells truths about Australia’s colonised history and supports First Nations self-determination and sovereignty assists all Australian students to understand the complexities of history as well as understand and appreciate the diversity, resilience and knowledges of First Nations Peoples.