Seminar presentations S2 2016

25 October

Associate Professor Laurie Johnson:  ‘Newington Butts, 1594: The Playhouse at the End of the Universe’

The little playhouse that once stood a mile south of the Thames at Newington Butts has been easy to forget. Built in 1575 by the actor Jerome Savage, it was only sporadically used before being demolished in 1595. No image or map from the period features the playhouse, since it sat too far south, and modern narratives of the rise of London theatres keep it similarly out of sight. It sits beyond the edge of the Shakespearean universe. Yet the earliest record of The Lord Chamberlain’s Men puts the company there in June, 1594. This paper seeks, literally, to put Savage’s little playhouse on the map.

Laurie Johnson is Associate Professor of English and Cultural Studies at the University of Southern Queensland, and current Vice-President of ANZSA (the Australian and New Zealand Shakespeare Association). His most recent publications include The Tain of Hamlet (Cambridge Scholars, 2013) and Embodied Cognition and Shakespeare’s Theatre: The Early Modern Body-Mind (edited with John Sutton and Lyn Tribble, Routledge, 2014).

Dr Sarah Peters:  ‘Three  Blisters:  Exploring   form  and  theme  in playwriting’

Blister is a play-in-progress based on the experience of walking the Camino de Santiago – an 800km pilgrimage across Northern Spain. It is the focus of my research into verbatim theatre dramaturgy and the experimentation with form to explore the theme of courageous vulnerability.  I have experimented  with the form of the play for three presentations of the work; firstly as a ten minute reading at the Australasian   Association   for   Theatre,   Drama   and   Performance Studies  conference  in June,  as a 20minute  excerpt  for the Scriptwriting Symposium at USQ in September, and finally as a site specific  performance  work  presented  at RAYGUN  projects  in October.  This paper will reflect  on these three presentations  of the work and articulate some of my early findings around how form influences  the  theatrical  exploration  of  courageous  vulnerability  in Blister.

Sarah Peters is a theatre artist and practice-led researcher, completing her PhD at the University of Southern Queensland in 2016. She has tertiary teaching experience in theatre history, children’s theatre, community and political theatre, and has supervised and mentored third year students in their creative practice.  Sarah has written two verbatim plays, twelve2twentyfive (2013, 2015) and bald heads & blue stars (2014). She has served as the postgraduate representative for the School of Arts and Communication, vice-president of the Postgraduate Research Student Society, and is currently the Executive Member for Regional Matters (Australia) with the Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance. After walking the Camino de Santiago earlier this year, Sarah is currently furthering her research and practice through a play based on the experience, currently titled Blister.

16 November

12:30pm  Dr Daniel Hourigan:  ‘Details, or, the legal form in Miéville’s law and literature dialectic’

This paper focuses on the materialist dialectic between China Miéville’s diagnosis of international law denialism in his only extended account of legal theory Between Equal Rights (2005) and the reworking of this thesis in his Yellow Wallpaper (Charlotte Perkins Gilman 1892) homage Details (2002). The critique of international law discourse offered in Between Equal Rights is often beyond the scope of the literary reception of Miéville’s speculative fiction as in Ann and Jeff Vandermeer’s anthology The Weird (2011). Likewise, Miéville’s reception as a Marxist jurisprude interested in the Pashukanian commodity-form of law consistently ignores his ficto-critical figurations such as the Marxist discourse on law given voice in the acclaimed Bas-Lag trilogy Perdido Street Station (2000), The Scar (2002) and Iron Council (2004). This discussion sketches the spectacle of legal form between Details published just after Miéville completed his doctorate in the philosophy of international law at the London School of Economics in 2001 and the thesis-made-book that is Between Equal Rights.

Daniel Hourigan is a Lecturer in English Literature in the School of Arts & Communication. Daniel’s research examines the intersections of legal theory and comparative literature through the lens of philosophy, semiotics and psychoanalysis, most recently focusing on the cultural representations of the legal concept of the usufruct in Law and Enjoyment: Power, Pleasure and Psychoanalysis (Routledge 2015). Daniel is currently working on a new book that embraces the axiom of literature as trauma rather than representation or working-through. The book unravels this core concern through a comparative reading of the fiction of British New Weird author and Marxist critic of international law China Miéville.


1:00pm  Dr Nike Sulway:  ‘“a date with Barbara”:  paracosms of the self in biographies of Barbara Newhall Follett’ [no recording]

In February 1927, 12-year-old Barbara Newhall Follett published her first book, the critically acclaimed novel, The house without windows and Eepersip’s life there. In this paper, I grapple with the challenges of writing about Barbara Newhall Follett, and the ways her biographers have approached the problem of writing her unresolved life story: a child raised and educated in solitude, a celebrated ‘natural’ child author, a young woman whose disappearance remains unsolved. The paper will explore the ways in which adults write themselves into the stories of children’s lives, and describes the ways Barbara’s biographers have created biographical concordances, or paracosms of the self, in seeking to make meaning of her life story.

Nike Sulway is a writer and academic. She is the author of several novels, including Rupetta, which—in 2014—was the first work by an Australian writer to win the James Tiptree, Jr Award. The award, founded in 1991 by Pat Murphy and Karen Joy Fowler, is an annual award for a work of “science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender”.

17 August

12:30pm  Associate Professor Andrew Hickey:  ‘The Peripatetic Ethnographé: Walking, Young People’s Cartographies and a Case for a Walking Ethnography

This presentation will consider how walking, and the encounters with space and Other that walking affords, provide reference points for becoming. Using de Certeau’s conceptualisations of strategy and tactic, combined with Ingold’s more recent account of threads and traces as its theoretical points-of-reference, this presentation will step through the experiences had with selected participant groups from an ongoing research project that explores young people’s engagement in public spaces. In particular, the presentation will chart the ways that walking enabled certain formulations of interpersonal encounter. The presentation will work through material drawn from these projects, but will seek to offer an understanding of the navigations of Self, Other and space that these peripatetic encounters enabled. In taking this lead, this presentation will seek to offer insight into the possibilities that walking provides as an act of encounter, becoming and resistance, by charting the ways that walking functions as an embodied, but also deeply relational act.

Andrew Hickey is Associate Professor in Communications in the School of Arts and Communications, University of Southern Queensland. He is currently a chief investigator on a large project exploring walking and sensory methodologies, funded through the Canadian Government Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. In conjunction with this Andrew has undertaken research on young people’s participation in public spaces, the city as site of public pedagogy and schools as sites of informal learning, with funding provided through government, industry and community partners.  


1:00pm  Associate Professor Janet McDonald and Scott Alderdice:  ‘The Clown and the King: Rehearsing Resilience through Shakespeare’s King Lear’

Since the Ancient Greeks, theorists have recognised and valorised the ‘cathartic’ powers of performance on audiences, but what about the impact on actors? A contradictory thread of warnings traces through historical medical and acting texts articulating the negative psychophysiological consequences of acting. Current

research, though limited, re-enforces this view. How then might we protect the wellbeing of our actors, particularly when they are actors-in-training? Can we rehearse resilience? This paper explores the use of clown-state as a strategy for increasing wellbeing within the rehearsal process. In this context, actors-in-training experience the body’s capacity for resilience through experimentation with the grotesque and ambivalence in order to create characters reminiscent of

Shakespeare’s own. The researchers posit that the navigation of these experiences constitutes “rehearsing for resilience” to increase individual and group wellbeing.

Janet McDonald received her PhD from Arizona State University (Theatre for Young People) in 1999. She served as the Head of the School of Creative Arts at USQ (2008-2013) and is currently an Associate Professor lecturing in Drama and Theatre Studies in the School of Arts and Communication at the University of Southern Queensland (Toowoomba). Her work in enabling young people in the arts was recognised when she was elected Chair of Youth Arts Queensland, the state’s peak body for youth arts from 2008-2012. She is co-recipient of the USQ Excellence in Teaching Award (2008) and an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning (2009).  Her research areas are in wellbeing and liminal arts practices in regional areas, which features prominently in her recently published book Creative Communities: Regional Inclusion in the Arts (Intellect, 2015), co-edited with Dr Robert Mason, Griffith University. 

Scott Alderdice, after some years working as a professional theatre and company director, took up a position as a Lecturer in Acting with USQ in 1998. The challenges, inspirations and privileges of this role have kept him from returning to the industry for what has quickly become twenty years. Besides being deeply engaged in assisting young people in preparing for their career aspirations, Scott has spent the last 8 years working on integrating online functionality with performance capabilities in both the evolving entertainment and education sectors.

20 July

12:30pm  Dr Dianne Jones:  Engaging the local community through work-integrated learning approaches to student journalism’

This paper explores how a real-world, work-integrated learning (WIL) reporting project, spanning eight years, enabled authentic student learning and also provided a valued community service. USQ student journalists interviewed the mayoral and councillor candidates, for each of the Toowoomba Regional Council elections from 2008 to 2016, and published their stories online at The research concludes that this WIL approach to teaching journalism creates an immediate, positive impact on the reputations of student journalists, and that goodwill extends to USQ. The local community sees this public service journalism as effective in informing it about the players in an important local political contest. Based on the public’s feedback, voters and candidates alike believed that they were provided with reliable, actionable information.

1:00pm  Barbara Ryan:  ‘Has the significance of communication in emergency management changed?’

This study replicates one completed in 2009 (Ryan & Matheson, 2010).  It aims to determine the significance of communication in emergency management and identify trends in issues that occur during emergency.  It considers recommendations and findings from 22 disaster and exercise reviews from around Australia and, using content analysis, finds that 20.4% of all findings relate to issues with communication with the community. This represents an increase of 1.3% on the 2010 study. Resourcing, skills in social media, and community consultation and engagement all featured in the study results.

Link to recording.


Last modified: Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 3:21 PM