This research group grew out of an earlier grouping entitled "Constructing Cultural Identities". The Life Writing group is in the process of composing a definition document which reflects this change and more explicitly addresses the research interests and concerns of the group. In the meantime, please refer to the Constructing Cultural Identities definition document.
Constructing Cultural Identities Discussion paper.
Constructing Cultural Identities Group
Scott Hicks 1
In our discussions, we have embarked collectively on a course of action to explore the interdependence of and create cooperative models for our many and varied research activities. In so doing, we acknowledge the need to communicate the interrelatedness of the bodies of knowledge that we carry within ourselves and, through our scholarly investigations, make provision for engaging in dynamic collaborative practices and undertakings in the future.
The research theme, Constructing Cultural Identities, recognises the vital and ongoing intercultural dialogue that exists between colleagues across a variety of disciplines and aims to foster new research partnerships and directions, encourage the development of projects of international status and enhance the research strengths and commitments of all stakeholders. As individuals we express our sense of identity and heritage. As researchers we inhabit different interdisciplinary spaces of teaching, learning and understanding.
Our domains of study are broad and constantly evolving: “Humanistic disciplines overlap with the social sciences at some points and at others have a greater affiliation with aesthetics and art; and all are concerned centrally with beliefs and values. As foci of research, they explore how we communicate; choose; make intellectual, social and moral sense of our lives; learn to think critically and creatively; and adapt to change” (National Research Priorities, 2003: 5). Thus our proposals will be shaped by the range and diversity of perspectives that are found in our different fields, for example, the creation and/or analysis of texts in a variety of media, including the creative arts, drama, public performance, debate, historical investigation, field-work, the study of both indigenous and introduced cultures. While we accept that there is no such thing as a unitary human identity, we work on the assumption that mutual and fluid conceptions of identities provide a better model for understanding humans in culture than the fully deconstructed notion of fragmented subjectivities.
To date, expressions of interest in the theme group Constructing Cultural Identities have been made by twenty-seven researchers from the following disciplines:
The value of this discussion paper will emerge from the way in which we all engage with it in creating opportunities for coordinated research activities, encouraging exchange, building new partnerships and exploring potential projects as a focused thematic group.
Culture: A Global Perspective
Critical and Visual Literacy
Critical literacy likewise stresses that the many shades of meaning to be found in text represent a ‘reading of cultures’, with the reader exploring ‘around, behind, underneath, alongside, after and within the text’ (Luke, Comber and O’Brien, 1996:3 cited in Browett, 1999:2). Each reader engages and interprets text individually and ‘ “preferred” readings rely on appropriate cultural knowledge’ whilst ‘ “alternative” readings occur as a result of the differences in the cultural experience of the creator and the reader (Curriculum Corporation, 1994: 8-9; Lo Bianco, Liddicoat & Crozet, 1999:184-185).
The way forward for members of CCI is to identify potential areas of interest that will lead to the development of significant projects. Suggestions for grouping members of lw along broad themes could include the following:
1. The role of literature and creative writing in the construction of cultural identity.
2. Postcolonial approaches and the construction of cultural identity.
3. The exploration of language and cultural identity.
4. Indigenous and introduced cultures and the construction of cultural identity.
5. The role of film and the creative arts in creating cultural identity.
Research interests of CCI participants
Creative writing is an area of special focus for Jeri Kroll, who is also active in the pedagogy of creative writing, creative work as research, contemporary poetry and prose (primarily Australian and American) and Australian children's literature. Maria Elena Lorenzin writes fiction and is conducting research in fast fiction, microfiction, humour, parody and eroticism in Spanish American literature, distance learning technology and interactive online teaching. Steve Evans is exploring contemporary poetry and prose and is an active creative writer and teacher of writing (creative and professional), as well as a consultant in creative and professional writing.
Robert Phiddian’s research interests include Jonathan Swift, late
seventeenth and early eighteenth century literature and culture, the theory
and practice of literary parody, deconstruction and Australian political
satire. Graham Tulloch’s many research interests include Sir Walter
Scott and James Hogg, nineteenth century Scottish literature, the history
of the Scots language, Scots Bible translation, Scottish writers in Australia
and South Australian writing. Graham also edits Scottish and Australian
Maria Luz Long has an interest in Spanish language, contemporary Spanish literature, the Spanish Civil War in Spanish literature and contemporary Spanish women writers. Her specialisation is the fiction of Miguel Delibes. Philip Martin-Clark’s work has examined gender and sexuality in the work of Luis Cernuda, and currently focuses on the work of his fellow poet, Luis López Anglada. In particular, his work examines López Anglada’s portrayal of Spanish society in the 1940s and early 1950s, his relationship to his contemporaries and to Spanish poetry of that and earlier periods, and his expression of personal identity.
Flavia Coassin and Diana Glenn are active researchers in Dante Studies. Flavia has explored, among other things, the function of music and musicality in the Comedy, and thirteenth and fourteenth century Italian poetry and poetics, in addition to twentieth century Italian literature, in particular Sicilian writers. Diana has concentrated on eighteenth century criticism of Dante and the role of women in the Comedy, but is also engaged in research on contemporary Italian narrative and Italian migration studies. Margaret Baker’s research is concerned with the ways in which Italian narrative, in particular that of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, reflects the country’s evolving cultural identity. As this narrative also draws upon earlier Italian literature, she takes an interest in Dante’s Comedy from a contemporary perspective.
Des O’Connor is an expert on the history of Italian settlement in Australia, with special reference to South Australia. Des’ other research interests include Italian and English bilingual lexicography, nineteenth and twentieth century Italian poetry, Italian migrant poetry and Italian language teaching. Eric Bouvet has been focusing on French migration to Australia but his interests also comprise second language acquisition, foreign language reading research and instruction, learning styles, and the methodology of literature instruction. Migrant cultural and linguacultural issues are the focus of Marietta Rossetto’s research interests, more specifically, the lived experiences of minority groups as they influence identity, acculturation and social justice. Her other research interests include language maintenance, second language learning and ESL.
Jenny Burley’s research is focused on the Irish who emigrated to
Australia in the early part of the twentieth century. She is primarily
interested in the experience of the women who came, their lives in Australia
and what, if any, cultural heritage they passed on to their descendants.
Dymphna Lonergan’s research interests include Business English,
Plain English, Australian English, Hiberno English, Irish language words
in English, Anglo-Irish literature, Irish Australian literature and Irish
place names in Australia.
Steve Hemming is an anthropologist/historian with a museum curator background
who is interested in the power relations involved in the ongoing colonial
relationships between Indigenous people and Pacific Rim settler democracies.
His research applies cultural theory to the practical processes of 'reconciliation'
and community change.
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1 Excerpt from a speech given at Flinders University, April 15 1997, on the occasion of Scott Hicks receiving a Doctor of Letters honoris causa.
2 United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2014 (Draft International Implementation Scheme, October 2004), p. 4.
Browett, J. (1999). Critical Literacy and Visual Texts:
Windows on Culture.
Curriculum Corporation, (1994). A Curriculum Profile for Australian Schools, Curriculum Corporation, Victoria.
Lo Bianco, J., Liddicoat, A. & Crozet, C. (eds) (1999). Striving for Third Place: Intercultural Competence through Language Education, Language Australia, Melbourne.
Matsuura, K. (2001). Opening Address at the 31st Session of the General Conference of UNESCO on Cultural Diversity, Paris, 2nd November, 2001.
Powys, J. C. (1930) The Meaning of Culture, London, Jonathan Cape.
Smolicz, J.J., Nical, I., and Secombe, M.J. (2002). Assimilation or Pluralism? Changing Policies for Minority Languages Education in Australia and the Philippines. Paper given at the World Congress on Languages Policies, Barcelona, 16-20th April, 2002.
The Humanities and Australia’s National Research Priorities. Report by the Australian Academy of the Humanities for the Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training, April, 2003.
United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2014 (Draft International Implementation Scheme, October 2004).
Young, R. (2001). Postcolonialism. London, Routledge.
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