3 May – First Fridays – Lisa Samuels & Lyn McCredden

The ‘First Fridays’ series of Gender and Sexuality Studies public events continues on Friday 3 May, at Deakin Downtown (727 Collins St, near Southern Cross Station).

Two exciting presentations are lined up for this month: Lisa Samuels will present a public seminar on ‘Transgenre in Tomorrowland’, while the head of Deakin’s Writing & Literature Group, Lyn McCredden, will present a postgraduate workshop on ‘What is the Sacred?’

First Fridays are free and open to people interested in the work, but bookings are required.

2–3.30pm: What is the Sacred? A Postgraduate Workshop with Lyn McCredden

Abstract: In early 2019, a handful of Victorian state members of parliament called for a removal of ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ from their daily commencement rituals. In the name of a secular and multicultural society, some MPs are calling for a replacement of the prayer with either silence, or an alternating of prayers from different faiths represented in the society. At the same time, a few conservative members of the parliament have been ‘refusing to stand for the Indigenous “Acknowledgement of Country”’ (The Age). Australian culture is in the grip of great change: we are asking what the past means, who is responsible for past acts of violence and brutality, and how will a vision of justice emerge amongst us – politically? Legally? Spiritually?

In my research across the past 20 years, I have been developing understandings of ‘the sacred’ in Australian literature and popular culture. In this paper, part of an essay written for the forthcoming Routledge Anthology New Directions in Australian Literary Studies, I will argue that one issue in Australian culture can be seen as core to future individual and communal health. What might it mean in the wider conversations around Australia’s history and future self-understandings, that many Indigenous people (though certainly not all) do work and live with concepts of sacredness? At the same time, many non-Indigenous Australians have not been able or willing to address this challenging category, let alone the multiplicity of beliefs and sacred practices existing in Australia today. While Australia is often simply designated secular (as if ‘Australia’ could be such a monolithic entity), this description neglects the diverse and increasingly influential aspects of Indigenous sacredness, as much as it turns awkwardly away from the many religious or spiritually searching writings of Indigenous, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim and other traditions, which Australia has produced across the last century.

About the Speaker: Lyn McCredden is Professor of Literary Studies at Deakin University. She is the author of numerous volumes of literary criticism, including James McAuley (1992), Bridgings: Reading Australian Women’s Poetry (with Rose Lucas, 1996), Intimate Horizons: the Postcolonial Sacred in Australian Literature (with Frances Devlin Glass and Bill Ashcroft, 2009), and The Fiction of Tim Winton: Earthed and Sacred (2017). She has written on Indigenous Australian literature by authors Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Tony Birch, Lisa Bellear, Sam Wagan Watson; and on feminist writers such as Virginia Woolf, Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, Ania Walwicz, Pam Brown. She is also a poet, with one published volume, entitled Wanting Only (Ginninderra Press, 2018).

4–5pm: Transgenre in Tomorrowland. A Seminar by Lisa Samuels

Abstract: This talk–performance discusses the androgynous or gender neutral figurations of Eula and the gender work of Fasti and Manda in my book Tomorrowland (Shearsman 2009), with reference to the subsequent CD versions (2012, Lisa Samuels words and music, recording and mixing by Tim Page) and the art film version of the book (2017, directed by Wes Tank). I’m interested in the fact that ‘genre’ and ‘gender’ are effectively the same word in French: not dissimilarly, the genre work of Tomorrowland is expansively trans both in the pressure put on the named principles Eula, Manda, and Fasti and in the multiplication of the work into three different genre versions. I’ll discuss these creative research works as performances of identity thinking in a transnational context, evident in the book version of Tomorrowland and differently available in the audio and cinematic versions. The presentation will include playing samples from the audio CDs and showing the 16-minute art short. Samples from the CD are available here. The film can be viewed on vimeo.

About the Speaker: Lisa Samuels is the author of 13 books of poetry and prose, with recent experiments in memoir ANTI M (2013) and the novel Tender Girl (2015). Her poetry is in anthologies such as Out of Everywhere 2 (2015) and has inspired scholarly work and musical scores internationally. Her recent critical essays include ‘Over Hear: six types of poetry experiment in Aotearoa/New Zealand’ (2015) and her current projects are Symphony for Human Transport (poetry), The Long White Cloud of Unknowing (prose), Imagining What We Don’t Know (essays), and continuing experiments in soundwork. A transcultural writer, Lisa teaches at the University of Auckland in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

For more information, and to register>

The Gender and Sexuality Studies Research Network blog contains registration details, recordings of past seminars where available and links to other events.


*Featured image by frank mckenna on Unsplash