Research in the School of Arts and Sciences
Higher Degree Research
- Guide to applying for Masters and PhD research programs in the School of Arts and Sciences
- HDR Handbook
HDR Research Projects
PhD, Media Studies/Cultural Studies
Thesis: Transgression and Its Practice: The Role of the Cultural Provocateur
Supervisors: Dr. Ari Mattes and Dr. Camilla Nelson
Through a critical examination of the cultural provocateur, this project provides insight into some of the broader political, social and ethical concerns of living and making art in the 21st century. It analyses these implications through close interrogation of the performances of several provocateurs across multiple media, including Eric Andre, Nathan Fielder, Andy Kaufman, Valerie Solanas and the Situationist International. The project engages with Slavoj Zizek’s ongoing interrogation of the transgressive function of over-orthodoxy, in the context of the historical function of Carnival and the politics of accelerationism in the contemporary age.
"The Past is With Us and Yet to Come: A hauntological analysis of Tsutomu Mizushima's anime Series 'Another'", 'New Voices in Japanese Studies' 12 (2020): 65-79.
M.A (Research), History
Thesis: Australian Literary Fascists: Wilson, Hughes, Baylebridge
Supervisors: Dr. Christine de Matos and Dr. Susanna Rizzo
This project is an ‘intellectual history’ analysis of the writings of three Australia intellectuals in the interwar period to determine the reasons for their ultimate embrace of the ‘fascist hope’. These figures were Hardy Wilson (1881-1955), William Baylebridge (1883-1942), and Randolph Hughes (1889-1955). With their attitudes and ideas shaped by the modernist ‘revolt against decadence’, together with the philosophies of Romanticism and German Idealism, they came to regard the fascist movement in Europe as the ‘world-historic event’ that would redeem modernity and restore it to a condition of rootedness. They were not unlike such ‘literary fascists’ as Gabriele D’Annunzio or Ernst Jünger, and so represent the incidence of such thought in Australia in the interwar period. By understanding their thought and the various preconditions that contributed to their eventual embrace of the ‘fascist hope’, we may come to a fuller understanding of the origins of fascist ideology in Australia.
M.A (Research), Disability studies
Thesis: University graduates with disability and participation in employment: an exploratory study
Supervisors: Cate Thill and Louise St Guillaume
My research analyses the experiences of university graduates with disability in regards to employment participation, post-graduation. Exploring this issue from the graduates’ perspective will utilise the lived experience of university graduates with disability as a source of untapped knowledge. Capturing their insights and knowledge will increase understanding and enable the identification of barriers to employment, for this cohort, within the Australian context. The research also aims to identify ‘enablers’ of employment by exploring positive experiences. The identification of barriers and enablers to employment will allow for the formulation of policy recommendations to potentially improve the levels of employment participation for this cohort. Moreover, the research aims to explore the interaction of social categories of identity such as gender, age and race, with disability and the impact of this interaction upon employment outcomes.
Thesis: Challenges on the mission field: Exploring the experience and impact of overwhelming events in Christian missionaries
Supervisors: Dr Linda MacKay and Dr Maureen Miner-Bridges
Employing an Interpretive Phenomenological approach, this qualitative study will explore trauma-related experiences of Christian missionaries with a view to understanding how adverse 'in situ' events and experiences influence length of field placement, and affect overall functioning during and post placement.
This study explores four themes related to the type of traumatic events experienced in field placements; the effects of traumatic events on general functioning, psychological adjustment, and ultimately the discontinuance of field placements; coping and adjustment strategies and resource utilisation employed to ameliorate trauma-related responses or events experienced 'in situ'; and the effectiveness of existing pre-placement trauma-focused training with respect to placement adjustment.
M.A (Research), History
Thesis: Charity as Civic Identity in Early Renaissance Siena: Images of St Catherine of Siena
Supervisors: Karen McCluskey and Renee Kohler-Ryan
This study will seek to establish how Charity as Civic identity in early Renaissance Siena was conveyed through the images of Catherine of Siena. As a comparative study, I will use specific case studies in which I will explore how various patrons sought to convey particular meanings, promote distinctive messages, and facilitate specific forms of devotion through charitable iconography of Catherine of Siena. Through exploring images of Catherine used by various groups such as civic governments, civic organisations such as hospitals, religious orders, cofraternities, and lay patrons, I will seek to establish how Catherine's images were not only used by various groups to propagate the established picture of her piety but were reworked or reshaped according to different local Sienese needs.
M.Phil, International Relations
Thesis: What model of International Relations theory undergirds the Vatican's China policy under the Pontificate of Francis?
Supervisors: Prof John Rees and Prof Tracey Rowland
In 2018, the Vatican signed an historic agreement with the People's Republic of China. The agreement is notable, especially given that the Vatican does not recognise the PRC, instead recognising Taiwan/ROC as representing the Chinese people. At the same time, the agreement comes at a time when the PRC seems to associate religion with the "three evils" (separatism, terrorism and extremism) that are seen as threats to state security and stability. In the context of an historic agreement between China and the PRC, and disagreement about the IR approach behind the agreement, there is an opportunity for this proposed thesis to investigate Vatican policy towards China, and what the Vatican hopes to achieve through such engagement as the 2018 Vatican-China agreement.
PhD, Social Sciences
Thesis: A Pedagogical and Sociotechnical Framework for Sustainable Mobile Learning in Higher Education in Developing Countries: A Case Study of Nigeria”
Supervisors: Assoc. Prof Kathie Ardzejewska and Dr Ahmed Imran
Many higher institutions of learning in disadvantaged communities have limited educational technology infrastructure to facilitate technology enhanced learning. The majority of these communities have a deep penetration of the mobile technology, which has provided the basis for improved digital communication and tangible business opportunities. However, an equivalent diffusion has not been achieved in the educational sector, despite the wide recognition and potential for mobile learning (m-learning). My research focused on moving beyond the theoretical benefits, to establish the practical benefits of m-learning implementation in disadvantaged communities. To do this, I developed a framework suitable for the pedagogical and socioeconomic contexts of developing countries; using one of the universities in Nigeria as a case study, I demonstrated how sustainable m-learning can be reliably implemented despite limited IT facilities, and other sociocultural challenges.
- Okai-Ugbaje, S., Ardzejewska, K., & Imran, A. (2017). A systematic review of mobile learning adoption in higher education: The African perspective. i-manager’s Journal on Mobile Applications & Technologies, 4(2), 1–13.
- Okai-Ugbaje, S., Ardzejewska, K., & Imran, A. (2020). Readiness, roles, and responsibilities of stakeholders for sustainable mobile learning adoption in higher education. Education Sciences, 10(3), 49;
- Okai-Ugbaje, S. (2020). Towards a pedagogical and sociotechnical framework for the strategic integration of mobile learning in higher education in developing countries. Higher Education Research and Development,
- Okai-Ugbaje, S., Ardzejewska, K., Imran, A., Yakubu, A., & Yakubu, M. (2020). Cloud-based m-learning: A pedagogical tool to manage infrastructural limitations and enhance learning. International Journal of Education and Development using ICT (IJEDICT), 16(2), 48-67
Concetta P. Pilsner
Thesis: Assent as an Expression of Faith: Correspondences Between Newman’s Illative Sense and Hopkins’ Poetics
Supervisors: Dr. Deborah Pike, Prof. Renée Köhler-Ryan and Dr. Robert Andrews
How is assent an expression of faith for St. John Henry Newman and Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.? Newman approaches the project of spiritual knowing as an intellectual, Hopkins as a poet, yet both attain a personal, experiential certitude of faith aspects via nature and the mind. In John Henry Newman’s philosophical work, An Essay in Aid of A Grammar of Assent, an act of assent is primary, and results from an exercise of the will to a particular belief unconditionally.
This study will address first how Newman’s Grammar may have influenced Hopkins during the development of his poetic theory. The study profiles Hopkins as an heir of Newman’s theory of assent through his poetics. The main contribution of this study regards how Hopkins’ poetics and poetry gives an innovative example to Newman’s theory of assent.
PhD, International Relations
Thesis: Catholic Agency in International Society (The Santa Marta Group: An anti-slavery initiative of the Catholic Church)
Supervisors: Prof John Rees and Dr Rosemary Hancock
My research examines the issue of Catholic agency in the academic discipline of International Relations (IR). Situated in the IR discourse on religion, it investigates the Santa Marta Group (SMG) - a global alliance of police chiefs and Catholic bishops working with civil society actors to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking. The SMG is analysed from 2014 until 2018 via a mixed-methods approach combining a desk review and key-informant interviews. To contribute original insight into Catholic agency in international society, my research firstly conducts a 'thick religion' analysis of the SMG using Hassner's categories of theology, hierarchy, iconography, ceremony and knowledge. Secondly, I apply this analysis to aspects of Catholic agency in English School (ES) discourse on Catholicism, specifically its notion of religious ideas underpinning the concept of international society by the ES founding fathers, and the Catholic Church's role in the solidarism versus pluralism debate within the ES.
PhD, International Relations
Thesis: The Philippine Catholic Church, Statecraft, and the Democratic Dilemma: Church-State Relations in Post-Marcos Presidencies (1986-1998)
Supervisors: Prof John Rees and Dr Matthew Tan
The core investigation of the research is how can religious actor agency be understood and situated in the discipline of International Relations. This will be explored through a Philippine based case study on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Reproductive Health Policy and Land Reform Policy in the immediate period after the People Power Revolution from 1986 to 1998. A multilayered understanding of agency from Colin Wight and the metaphysical realism of Adrian Pabst are combined as the framework and tested in the case study on the CBCP. The research aims to examine the agency of a religious actor and validate and challenge existing and emerging scholarship on the agency of religious actors as understood in International Relations theory.
Monica van Gend
M.A (Research), History
Thesis: "That all may justice share": Sydney Catholics 1919-1929
Supervisors: Dr Christine de Matos and Dr Susanna Rizzo
This thesis aims to explore the place and influence of the Catholic Church in New South Wales, particularly in the Archdiocese of Sydney, in the years between the end of World War I and the beginning of the Great Depression. In particular, this thesis focuses on some of the societies and institutions that sprang up during those years to deal with what the Church saw as the most pressing needs of the time. In so doing, this thesis also aims to appraise Michael McKernan's statement - that the churches became "increasingly irrelevant" - in relation to the Catholic Church's involvement in Sydney in the interwar years, investigating what can be said of the 'relevance' of the Church in this crucial era of Australian history.
M.A (Research), English Literature
Thesis: Rewriting the Villain: Changing the pattern of the fairy tale through Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent
Supervisors: Deborah Pike and Sylvie Magerstaedt
Recent representations of the villain have subverted the expected patterns of fairy tale narrative in order to offer powerful counter-narratives to archetypical fairy tale stories, by changing the focalising point of view. Within contemporary adaptations of the fairy tale, the key elements of the story have been altered to represent the interests of the modern audiences’ growing concern for issues such as the representation of minorities and the exploration of experiences regarding gender, sexuality, culture, and identity. For some creators of the contemporary fairy tale adaptation, this change is signalled in the reworking of these stories through depicting and highlighting a new perspective – that of the villain. This project will closely analyse adaptations of literature and film in which the fairy tale is rewritten to contemplate the experience and points of view of the villain character through a case study of popular Disney villain, Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty).
Social Justice Research Network
The Social Justice Research Network (SJRN) aims to bring together researchers from across the University to connect and work collaboratively in areas that relate to social justice, thus supporting Catholic ideals that focus on the dignity of the human person. The SJRN aims to conduct traditional and non-traditional (NTRO) high quality multi/interdisciplinary research:
- in the field of Catholic social justice/teaching;
- that is collaborative and engages with communities and/or industry;
- that reveals, interrogates and/or seeks solutions for issues related to contemporary social, cultural,political and economic inequalities and human rights;
- that analyses public policy and political participation through a social justice lens;
- that studies the past in relation to issues of social, cultural, political and economic inequalities and human rights.
Please complete this form to express your interest in becoming a member of the Social Justice Research Network. Note that once membership is confirmed, information from this application, such as key research areas and research descriptions, may be used on the Networks’s web page.
School of Arts & SciencesEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Meera Atkinson is a literary writer, interdisciplinary researcher, and educator. Writing across forms and genres, her work has appeared in over 40 publications, including Salon.com, Best Australian Poems 2010, Best Australian Stories 2007, Meanjin, Southerly, and Griffith Review. Her books include creative nonfiction title Traumata (2018), The Poetics of Transgenerational Trauma (2017), an academic monograph, and Traumatic Affect, a co-edited academic volume. She teaches creative writing and English literature.
Social justice is a key concern of mine both in my practice-based research and scholarly research.
My research focuses on exploring writing and literature as a social and political force. I am best known for my work in trauma studies and affect theory. Trauma theory in the Humanities is an interdisciplinary field rooted in poststructuralism and psychoanalysis. Trauma, especially structural trauma, which I have concentrated on, is commonly linked to social injustice. My hybrid literary book, Traumata, was published by the University of Queensland Press in May 2018. Launched by Julianne Schultz AM FAHA, the book received many positive reviews. Books + Publishing declared it, ‘a humane, thought-provoking and heart-breaking addition to our understanding of individual and collective suffering.’ The Weekend Australian called it ‘an incisive case study of trauma's effects, how it can compound at an individual level, and how it operates in society’ that ‘achieves powerful clarity within page-turning tension.’ The Sydney Morning Herald said, ‘the book raises fascinating and important issues’, Eureka Street affirmed it is ‘a beautifully written and strangely hopeful book about terrible things,’ and Sydney Review of Books declared that Meera Atkinson brings ‘a lyrical grace to writing born of deep research.’ The book was also reviewed in TEXT Journal, Life Writing, Australian Book Review, Verity La, The Saturday Paper, The Lifted Brow, Feminist Writers Festival blog and Hot Chicks with Big Brains. My work has prompted numerous interviews across print, radio, and podcasts, including a Books + Publishing Q & A, ABC Nightlife (‘This Mortal Coil’ program), 3RRR Glasshouse, The Garret podcast, and From the Lighthouse podcast.
My most significant scholarly contribution is The Poetics of Transgenerational Trauma, published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2017. This monograph analyses works of creative prose to propose a cohesive theory of how creative writing can testify to transgenerational trauma and its transmission, revealing crucial operations at the intersection of affect and trauma between subject, text and society. A review in 20th and 21st Century Literature described the book as ‘a two-fold effort of literary and affective investigation; it considers an affect that is mutually binding and bound by trauma, together with the contaminative qualities of writing, to ask how literary testimony might reveal something of the processes of trauma’s transmission in the world at large.’ Forum for Modern Language Studies said the book frames an analysis around ‘a diverse body of contemporary trauma texts by women authors’ to ‘explore the intersection of gender, race, and environment, providing an understanding of the ways in which the transmission of unresolved traumas often transcends specific groups to adversely impact not only humans but their environment as well.’ And Hypatia declared it ‘masterful—and fascinating—work.’
I am currently designing a major new project exploring trauma writing as public health and social justice advocacy, which promises to further the collaborative and community and industry engagement potential of my work.
Arts & Sciences
Dr Buiten is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Arts and Sciences and Discipline Coordinator for the Social Justice program (Sydney). She holds a PhD in Sociology and a Bachelor of Social Sciences Honours Degree in Gender and Transformation. Her research focuses on gender, media and gender-based violence, and she is a Senior Research Associate of the University of Johannesburg, an International Board Member for the Association of Applied and Clinical Sociology, and member of the Vice Chancellor's Advisory Committee for Addressing Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence on Campus at Notre Dame.
My research focuses on gender based violence and gender in the media. I am particularly interested in exploring the ways understandings and representations of gender and violence is evolving, and the implications this has for addressing gender-based violence. Currently, I am authoring a monograph on familicide (family murder-suicide involving both partners and children) and how this is portrayed in the news. Through this project I aim to encourage a sociological lens on this issue, and question the way gender is narrowly conceived of in the news on this topic, the way child victims are symbolically erased and the way discourses of disability often operate to rationalise violence. I also have research projects looking at masculinities and gender equality, teaching gender-based violence and reporting on gender-based violence in the media. I am a Senior Research Associate with the University of Johannesburg's Department of Sociology, with whom I am undertaking an explorative grant research project (with a colleague at the University of Sydney) exploring how young men in Australia and South Africa perceive public messages about masculinity and its relationship to gender equality. Recent published research has looked at constructions of rape in scholarship, how technology-facilitated sexual violence is portrayed in the news and how gender-based violence can be conceptualised. Across these areas, my research is focused on producing interrogating and transforming understandings of gender and violence with the aim of supporting cultural and policy change to address these issues.
Arts and Sciences
Camilla Nelson is Associate Professor in Media at the University of Notre Dame Australia. She researches in the fields of writing, gender and media cultures. She is the author or editor of four books. Camilla's work has been recognised through the award of grants from the Literature Board of the Australia Council and the Australian Film Commission. She has twice served as a judge for the NSW Premier's Literary Awards/Douglas Stewart Prize for Non Fiction Writing, the Kathleen Mitchell Award, the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelists of the Year Award, and served on the governing board of the NSW Writers' Centre. A former journalist, she has a Walkley Award for her work at the Sydney Morning Herald.
Camilla writes regularly for The Conversation, and her media commentary has appeared on the ABC, SBS, the Guardian and Independent (UK). Her most recent book is the co-edited essay collection Dangerous Ideas About Mothers. Camilla is currently working on single women, a project in the field of gender and media cultures and her new book on children and the family court will be published by Black Inc in 2021.
Nulungu Research Institute
Melissa Marshall has been a Research Fellow with the Nulungu Research Institute at the University of Notre Dame Australia (Broome Campus) since 2015. For the past 20 years, Mel has gained extensive experience working in remote Australia, in the area of Indigenous archaeology, cultural heritage and Aboriginal community-driven culturally-based research programs. Based in the Kimberley region itself since 2004, she has worked primarily with the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC), as well as a number of Traditional Owners groups, Indigenous rangers and Aboriginal communities across this landscape. Simultaneous to this, Mel has also worked in western Arnhem Land on various projects, particularly in Gunbalanya and Kakadu National Park. While an archaeologist by training, Mel’s expertise has extended during her time with Nulungu across a number of areas of Indigenous Research including decolonising and Indigenous methodologies, Aboriginal land tenure, sustainability of remote communities, youth justice reinvestment, in addition to supporting cultural maintenance and cultural revitalisation through applied heritage practice.
As a researcher of Indigenous Studies through Nulungu, the investigations I am involved with are holistic and cross-disciplinary by nature. Through a range of impactful applied research programs and projects driven by collaborations with Indigenous communities across Northern Australia, social justice outcomes are inherent within all activities. Whether this be related specifically to the conservation and management of Aboriginal cultural heritage sites or investigating opportunities for youth justice reinvestment initiatives, elements of all of the objectives of the Social Justice Network are intertwined and embedded. Built on cultural foundations and delivered through decolonising and Indigenous methodological frameworks, research I am involved with addresses this in various ways as evidenced below:
- Decolonisation of rock art conservation and management in Australia’ is the title of my PhD thesis and central to this was the development of a methodological framework to respectfully recognise the ownership, control and involvement of Aboriginal people in addressing ongoing preservation and protection of rock art sites across Australia. This research was conducted in six areas including Kakadu National Park with Djok and Manilikarr Traditional Owners; Jabiluka Mineral Lease with Mirrar Traditional Owners; western Arnhem Land with Manilikarr and Mengerrji Traditional Owners as well as artist from Injalak Arts; Kimberley with Nyikina Mangala and Wanjina Wunggurr Wilinggin Traditional Owners. All groups engaging in the applied research continue to be supported in the ongoing monitoring and maintenance of sites through a range of complementary projects which have seeded projects involving production of a number of cultural conservation management plans to guide the continuing work. This also culminated in a recent publication entitled ‘Indigenous Stewardship of Decolonised Rock Art Conservation Processes in Australia’ co-authored with three Aboriginal colleagues (https://doi.org/10.1080/00393630.2020.1778264)
- Wanjina oden barnja mirndi (Jilariba/Munja Rock Art Project) is a further example of a collaborative community-based research project in partnership with Wilinggin Aboriginal Corporation, Wunggurr Rangers, Wilinggin IPA, Mowanjum Arts & Culture Centre, University of Western Australia and the Australian National University. Seed funded through a LotteryWest Community History grant, the project was designed to undertake caring for country and cultural maintenance activities primarily at rock art and other cultural heritage locations along the Munja Track, recording oral histories and cultural connections simultaneously. This project continues and has provided a conduit for seven community-led national and international conference presentations in 2018-2019 and will be further developed into an ARC Linkage.
- Bunuba Cultural Caretaker’s Project was initiated by Bunuba Dawangarri Aboriginal Corporation, Bush Heritage and the Bunuba Rangers as a way to revitalise cultural activities associated with caring for cultural heritage across the Native Title area. Incorporating culturally-based traditional methods with western scientific conservation and management, the project has facilitated the reconnection to country for a number of Bunuba people who had been disconnected from their traditional lands. Connecting with other partners including the WA Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions, Environs Kimberley and Garnduwa, this project continues as part of the recently formed Bunuba Cultural Conservation Institute.
- Fitzroy Crossing Old Cemetery relocation was a project undertaken with the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre and the Fitzroy Crossing Community. Designed to relocate eroding burials from the banks of the Fitzroy River, the community invited me to facilitate the initial process and I continue to assist with what many view the most important element, the recognition and memorialising of the 100+ previously unnamed Aboriginal people who were unwillingly buried in unmarked graves at this site. KALACC will produce a book in their memory by 2021.
Christine de Matos
Arts and Sciences
Christine de Matos' primary research interest is the Australian role in the Allied Occupation of Japan (1946-1952), in particular using gender, race and class to elucidate the power dynamics of the occupier-occupied relationship. Her publications include Imposing Peace and Prosperity: Australia, Social Justice and Labour Reform in Occupied Japan 1945-1949 (ASP, 2008) and Japan as the Occupier and the Occupied, coedited with Mark E. Caprio of Rikkyo University (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Her current research projects include the internment of Japanese civilians in British India in the Asia-Pacific War (with Rowena Ward), a comparative study of the home in occupied German and Japan (with Bettina Blum and Kazuto Oshio), contemporary dance and ballet as a performance of the past, forced migration during the Asia Pacific War (with Yasuko Kobayashi and Rowena Ward), and gender, forced labour and war (with Fia Sundevall).
I am undertaking research projects that study the past in relation to issues of historical justice in terms of inequalities and human rights. My research on military occupation looks specifically at the asymmetrical relations of occupation power of occupier and occupied, as informed by perceptions of race, class and gender and the colonial model. This is particularly through the performance of power in the everyday through relations of labour. For instance, a key interest is the performance of occupation power by the occupier woman in the home via domestic servants - a performance that mirrors coloniser/colonised or mistress/servant relationships.
Some examples of my publications exploring this dynamic include ‘Living the Colonial Lifestyle: Australian women and domestic labour in occupied Japan 1945-1952’ in Hans Hägerdal (ed), Responding to the West: Essays on colonial dominance and Asian agency, 18th to 20th centuries (Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press, 2009) and ‘A Very Gendered Occupation: Australian women as “conquerors” and “liberators”’, US-Japan Women’s Journal, no. 33 (2009). I have begun comparative work on occupied Japan and occupied Germany in an international project 'Occupied spaces: A comparative historical analysis of transnational encounters in private spaces in occupied Japan and (West) Germany, 1945-1955', funded with a grant from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). I currently have an article under review examining the occupied home in Germany, titled 'The Occupied Home: Women, domestic work and power in the Allied Occupation of Germany, 1945-1949'.
A more recent project turns attention towards the Japanese civilians who resided in South and Southeast Asia and who were interned by the British in India during the Asia Pacific War/World War II. These civilians lost homes and businesses and were forcibly transported to India for some or all of the duration of the war. This research examines the poor conditions under which they were initially interned, which caused diplomatic problems between the British and Japanese governments. An article titled 'Forgotten Forced Migrants of War: Civilian Internment of Japanese in British India, 1941–1946' related to this project is currently under review, and the research was funded by the Chingari Small Grants Scheme from the Australia India Institute. Further new projects related to issues of historical justice include putting together a special journal issue on gender, war and labour, funded by European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST), and another planned special issue on forced migration and war in the Asia Pacific conflict, as has emerged from research on internment in India.
Arts and Sciences
My research is situated at the intersection of media theory, digital cultures, and studies of popular film and literature. My first monograph, "The Cinema of Accidents: Hollywood Film in the Disaster Ecology," is contracted to be published by Bloomsbury in 2021. In the context of looming ecological catastrophe, the book suggests that cultural theory seems uniquely primed for a discussion of the accident – and its relationship to disaster – as represented in popular cinema. I am also currently working on a follow up book on the work of science fiction writer Walter Tevis for Palgrave (2021).
My research critically interrogates the politics and economy of popular film, media and culture, advocating for the reduction of material inequality, and analysing how this inequality intersects with global warming, modernity and the built environment. My work focuses on both representation and the systems that generate these representations, considering how marginalisation - and its other - function to bulwark and sustain dominant power. I am currently working on a monograph looking at the function of the accident - as a discursive object and subject, as a formal strategy, and as a 21st century milieu - in Hollywood cinema.
In its critique of material inequality and environmental devastation, my work fits within the aims of the Social Justice Research Network, as evident from two of my recent academic articles. “Imagining Excess: Ideology in Contemporary Hollywood’s Florida” (The Journal of Popular Culture, 2017) focuses on the US state and cultural production. In the words of the editors, the article “turns […] to contemporary Florida, examining how that state has become a metaphor and paragon for global neoliberal capitalism. Mattes excavates the trappings of globalized capital in the form of the shallow surfaces of Miami’s circulating image, inspecting television programs like Nip/Tuck (2003–2010) and Michael Bay’s blockbuster aspiration Pain & Gain (2013). For Mattes, the retreat of the US in the neoliberal era enforces metaphors that are skin-deep: Florida becomes a depthless signifier in a time when the US state functions merely as a fragile container of capitalist energies rather than providing any deep structure for containing them.”
“Antipodean Dream, Antipodean Nightmare: Spatial Ideology and Justin Kurzel’s Snowtown” (Australian Humanities Review, 2017) offers a reading of Australian approaches to space and spatiality, both contemporary and historical, through close engagement with Justin Kurzel’s film Snowtown. The article suggests that the two dominant impulses in the representation of Australian space – as a Gothic nightmare and as an egalitarian space of “mateship” – are part of a broader project fetishising Australian space in order to mystify history – Indigenous genocide, convict abuse, the Squattocracy – and that Justin Kurzel’s Snowtown is a rare example of an Australian film that explicitly engages with this relationship between spatialisation and class. Through its foregrounding of temporal cinematic effects, the article argues, Snowtown marks a critical intervention into cultural discourses and practices that have tended to emphasise Australian space (geography) over time (history).
Arts and Sciences
Joss Morgan is a Masters' student within the School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Notre Dame (Sydney). Joss is researching the impacts of the Australian Government response to COVID-19 on the safety, health and wellbeing of people with disability.
Drawing on her extensive lived experience with disability and rural/remote living, Joss’s research contributes to an authentic and diverse disability voice needed to inform policy. Joss has been successful in obtaining project grants for communities to enhance health and wellbeing and works as a volunteer community advocate for people with disabilities. Joss currently serves on the board of a high school for children with intellectual disabilities in Western Australia.
My Masters' research intends to respect and honour the dignity and life of people with disability. Marginalised, too often spoken on behalf of or acted upon but not with, my research aims to be collaborative and work with people with lived experience of disability around Australia.
In researching the Australian Government response to COVID-19 on the safety, health, and wellbeing of people with disability, I intend to report impacts of a widespread social policy aimed at keeping 'everyone' safe. Research shows that people with disability are already unsafe due to greater poverty, lower health and wellbeing outcomes and increased morbidity rates from contagious disease being experienced irrespective of an individual nations' economic status. Yet laws and policies such as the response to COVID-19 are still strongly shaped by ableism, capitalism, paternalism, colonialism and all the other 'isms' that have constructed our society today that suit and benefit only some.
In researching the lived experience of COVID-19 for people with disabilities, I intend to offer recommendations for future disaster preparedness that is inclusive of people with disabilities.
Arts & Sciences
Professor Cate Thill is Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Sydney, at the University of Notre Dame Australia . Cate’s research focuses on social justice listening in the context of policy, Indigenous sovereignty and disability. She has recently published a series of chapters/articles on how claims for the intersectional rights of women and Aboriginal people with disability are heard across different policy fields. Cate is currently writing a co-authored book for Routledge on disability and listening with Prof. Gerard Goggin (USyd) and Rosemary Kayess (UNSW). From 2009 -2010, Cate co-convened the ARC Cultural Research Network funded Listening Project exploring the practices, technologies and politics of listening with Dr Tanja Dreher (UNSW), Dr Justine Lloyd (MQ) and Penny O'Donnell (USyd). The project has contributed to an emerging international research interest in political listening and media justice with a network of scholars including Prof. Nick Couldry (LSE), Prof. Jonathan Sterne (McGill), Prof. Kate Lacey (Sussex), Prof Charles Husband (Bradford) and A/Prof. Anthea Garmon (Rhodes).
My research focuses on the extent to which the voice of people with disability and Aboriginal people are heard at different stages and levels of the policy process. A key concern is whether the participation of marginalised groups goes beyond the consultation phase to impact decision-making and policy outcomes.
In a project examining how the claims of the First Peoples Disability Network shaped the development and implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, for example, I found that Aboriginal people with disability were recognised as knowledge producers and active participants in the policy process and yet the more transformative aspects of their claims were not heard.
See: Thill, C. (2018) Listening with Recognition for Social Justice. In A. Mondal & T. Dreher (eds) Ethical Responsiveness and the Politics of Difference (pp. 57-73). Cham: Palgrave.
Another project explores the contribution of Women with Disabilities Australia to policy development in the intersectional field of gender disability violence. See: Thill, C. (2019) Listening for Intersectionality: How Disabled Persons' Organisations Have Improved Recognition of Difference in Australia's National Disability Insurance Scheme. In O. Hankivsky & J. S. Jordan-Zachery (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Intersectionality in Public Policy (pp. 689-704). Cham: Palgrave.
My current research, with Gerard Goggin (Nanyang University of Technology) and Rosemary Kayess (UNSW), is tracing the extent to which the voices of people with disability and Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) are heard in policy debates on disability violence. Preliminary findings suggest that although the voices of people with disability and DPOs have shaped how violence against people with disability is recognised as a public issue, nevertheless the impact of these claims on policy outcomes is constrained due to Australia’s incomplete implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Nulungu Research Institute
Sandra Wooltorton is Associate Professor (Education) and since March 2018 has been a Senior Research Fellow with the Nulungu Research Institute (Nulungu) at the University of Notre Dame Australia’s Broome Campus. She is a trans-disciplinary researcher who first joined Nulungu in January 2015, as Director. Sandra leads a number of research projects including Kimberley Transitions: Collaborating to Care for Our Common Home: https://www.notredame.edu.au/research/transitions. She has worked as a primary school teacher and Aboriginal education officer, and was a teacher educator at Edith Cowan University (Bunbury) from 1999 until 2013. In 2014 she taught at Muludja Remote Community School in the Fitzroy Valley, WA. She has won a number of teaching awards. Also see: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8677-870X and https://works.bepress.com/sandra-wooltorton/.
Research I have led or collaborated in, relates directly to the Social Justice Research Network. Below, I have indicated interests and publications contextualised within the aims of the network.
- In the field of Catholic social justice/teaching, I lead the project entitled: "Kimberley Transitions, Collaborating to Care for our Common Home". The website is: https://www.notredame.edu.au/research/transitions. This research builds upon the Papal Encyclical: "Laudato Si, Caring for Our Common Home", and the UN document: "Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development". The aim of the project is to confront environmental and socio-cultural injustices – including climate change, species loss and ongoing colonisation – with theoretical and practical solutions inspired by integral ecology and Indigenous voices for change.
- Most of my research is collaborative and engages with communities and/or industry. See for instance:
- * Wilks, J., Dwyer, A., Wooltorton, S., Guenther, J. (In Press). “We Got a Different Way of Learning”: A message to the sector from Aboriginal students living and studying in remote communities. In The Campus Review. This example describes the outcomes of research focused towards Remote Aboriginal Student Engagement and Success in Tertiary Education.
- Most of my research reveals, interrogates and/or seeks solutions for issues related to contemporary social, cultural, political and economic inequalities and human rights. For example, please see:
- * Wooltorton, S., Collard, L., Horwitz, P., Poelina, A., & Palmer, D. (2020). Sharing Place-Based Indigenous Methodology and Learnings. Environmental Education Research. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2020.1773407. This research publication describes ongoing community-based research intended to enhance Indigenous-led transformative sustainability education. It is decolonising in intent, and elaborates the use of Indigenous concept interpretation for greater place and cultural respect.
- * Wooltorton, S., Palmer, M., White, P., & Collard, L. (2020). Learning Cycles: Enriching Ways of Knowing Place. Australian journal of environmental education, 1-18 FirstView. ISSN: 0814-0626 (Print), 2049-775X (Online). doi:10.1017/aee.2020.15. This research shows ways to address inequalities through seeing and understanding the world differently.
- My research that analyses public policy and political participation through a social justice lens, includes the following:
- * Wooltorton, S. (2019). Cultural solutions: a North West Australian reflection on Sustainable Development Goal 3. In T. Savelyeva, S. Lee, & H. Banack (Eds.), SDG 3 - Good health and wellbeing: re-calibrating the SDG agenda. ISBN: 9781789737127. UK: Emerald. This invited chapter highlights processes which apply processes which recognise Aboriginal voices and rights, work from the ‘ground-up’, are underpinned by shared learning and are Aboriginal-owned and strengths based.
- * White, P., Wooltorton, S., & Palmer, M. (2018). Chapter 11, Confronting, Collaborating and Crafting: An Enlivening Methodology for Academic Ecojustice Activism. ISBN 9781315147451 (ebook). This collaborative research develops and applies a methodology for academics to act with agency in their workplaces to transform injustice in many small, empowering ways.
- My research that studies the past in relation to issues of social, cultural, political and economic inequalities and human rights includes a recently-accepted collaboratively written article on Australian education history which has always seen Aboriginal culture, people and engagement as deficit. We reveal this along with ways for transforming this.
Arts and Sciences
Deborah's research interests currently span the areas of: literary modernism; play, wellbeing and literature; and studies in English literature as a discipline. She has published in the areas of postcolonial and cultural studies and modernist literatures.
At present I am working with colleagues at Charles Darwin University in a collaborative project on intercultural story making through the arts. The research focuses on Indigenous stories of the Arrernte people. Collaborators are in the fields of Education, Sociology and IT.
I am passionate about multidisciplinary research, having co-edited volumes on the topics of Play and Happiness: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Play from Birth to Beyond (Singapore: Springer Publishing Company, 2017) and On Happiness: New Ideas for the Twenty-First Century (Crawley: University of Western Australia Publishing, 2015). Both works deal with questions of equity, representation, ethics and social justice.
My monograph The Subversive Art of Zelda Fitzgerald focused on this overlooked artist and writer of the 20th century. A reviewer in academic journal Modernism/Modernity wrote: "Pike's contribution to the field is substantial and ambitious ... it has provided new avenues to think about Fitzgerald -- to read simultaneously the lines of privilege and marginalization that cross her life and work, to think about the political continuities across her oeuvre, to analyze discursive categories like seriousness, and to continue to make space for Fitzgerald's writing in our cultural and critical memory."
I have also written articles in postcolonial literary study, among other areas.
I believe that narrative is the most powerful communicative tool we possess.
Monthly research update
Research in Progress Seminars