Dr Ari Mattes

Assistant Dean; Lecturer in Media & Communications and English Literature
BA (Hons I) MA (Creative Writing) PhD

Email: Ari.Mattes@nd.edu.au
Phone: (02) 8204 4198

  • Biography

    Ari Mattes completed his PhD in American film and literature at the University of Sydney and worked at ANU and the University of Sydney before Notre Dame. He has published widely on multiple aspects of cinema, literature and culture, and is a regular contributor to The Conversation. His work is situated at the intersection of politics and media theory, digital cultures, and studies of popular film and literature. In 2016 he co-edited the book Filming the City, and his first monograph, “The Cinema of Accidents: Hollywood Film in the Disaster Ecology,” is contracted to Bloomsbury for 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. Other major projects include "The Man Who Fell to America," looking at the relationship between mediation and media technologies and (post)human becoming in the fiction of Walter Tevis, and the creative research project "Night of the People-Cats," a short film interrogating paranoiac thought models in the context of contemporary victim culture.

  • Teaching areas

    • Film and media theory
    • Hollywood cinema
    • American literature
    • Australian literature and cinema
    • world cinema
    • postcolonial literature
    • contemporary international literature
  • Research Interests and Current Projects

    Research Interests

    • The politics and ethics of visual culture
    • Critical and cultural theory
    • Philosophy of technology
    • Posthumanism
    • Hollywood cinema
    • American literature
    • Popular fiction

    Current Scholarly Projects

    • "The Cinema of Accidents: Hollywood Film in the Disaster Ecology" (Bloomsbury 2021)
    • The Man Who Fell to America: Anti-Apocalyptic Autology in the Fiction of Walter Tevis (monograph and article)
    • Last Words of the Condemned: Christian-Humanist Rhetoric in the American Abolition Debate (article)
    • The Office, at Work: Office Cultures in Literature, Film and Media

    Creative Projects

    • Night of the People-Cats (short film)
  • Research Supervision

    I have supervised the following HDR and Hons theses:

    • “Traversing the Fantasy: A Cultural Analysis of the Genesis and Rise of the Provocateur“ (PhD)
    • "Australian Gothic Poetry and the Body of the Bush” (PhD)
    • "Rewriting the Villain: Exploring how fairy tale villain narratives have been adapted in the 21st century" (MA)
    • "‘My Clowning Glory’: A Bakhtinian Reading of Grotesque Femininity in Muriel’s Wedding and Kath & Kim" (Hons)
    • “The Transfiguration of Music in Cinema: A Theory of Chirality” (Hons)
    • "Atomic Japan and Osamu Tezuka’s anime” (Hons)
    • "From Richard III to Chimerica: The Relationship between Digital Technology and Live Theatre” (Hons)
    • “Nobody’s Meat: Representations of Female Empowerment in 21st Century Fairytales” (Hons)
    • "Ghosting the Future: A Thematic Analysis of the Posthuman as Hauntological in Anime” (Hons)
    • “A Universe Greater than Our Own: An Exploration into Cinematic Universes” (Hons)
    • “Social Media and Pro-Am Culture: The Effect of Medium on Truth” (Hons)
    • “Playing with the Real: Objectivity, Ethics and Credibility in Observational Documentary Film” (Hons)
  • Books

    Mattes, Ari. "The Cinema of Accidents: Hollywood Film in the Disaster Ecology" (Forthcoming, Bloomsbury 2021)

    Clift, Edward M., Mirko Guaralda, and Ari Mattes (eds). Filming the City: Urban Documents, Design Practices and Social Criticism through the Lens. Bristol: Intellect, 2016.

  • Book chapters

    • Mattes, Ari. “Everything is Awesome When You’re Part of a List: The Flattening of Distinction in Post-Ironic LEGO Media.” In Cultural Studies of Lego: More Than Just Bricks, edited by Rebecca C. Hains and Sharon R. Mazzarella, pp. 73-95. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.
    • Nelson, Camilla, and Ari Mattes. "Lego, Creative Accumulation and the Future of Play." In Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Play from Birth and Beyond, edited by Sandra Lynch, Deborah Pike and Cynthia à Beckett, pp. 265-279. Singapore: Springer, 2017.
    • Mattes, Ari. “Unlawful Entry: The Imbrication of Suburban Space and Police Repression.” In Filming the City, edited by Edward M. Clift, Mirko Guaralda, and Ari Mattes, pp. 9-26. Bristol: Intellect, 2016.
  • Journal articles and proceedings

    • Mattes, Ari. “Imagining Excess: Ideology in Contemporary Hollywood’s Florida.” The Journal of Popular Culture 50, no.3 (2017): 622-645.
    • Mattes, Ari. "Antipodean Dream, Antipodean Nightmare: Spatial Ideology and Justin Kurzel’s Snowtown." Australian Humanities Review, 61 (2017): 27-47.
    • Mattes, Ari. "The Cinema of Cruelty: Olympus Has Fallen and the Action-Spectacle Aesthetic." Journal of Asia-Pacific Pop Culture 2, no. 1 (2017): 93-118.
    • Mattes, Ari. "Lord Business is dead–long live Lord Business!: Second order ideology in The Lego Movie." Australasian Journal of Popular Culture 5, no. 2-3 (2016): 93-106.
    • Mattes, Ari. "Action without regeneration: The deracination of the American action hero in Michael Mann's Heat." Journal of Popular Film and Television 42, no. 4 (2014): 186-194.
    • Mattes, Ari. "Turning the gun on America: Cobra and the action film as cultural critique." Australasian Journal of Popular Culture 2, no. 3 (2013): 457-470.
  • Journal reviews

    • Mattes, Ari. “Black Panther.” Australasian Journal of American Studies 37, no. 1 (2018): 122-126.
    • Mattes, Ari. “The Spectacle of Place: Multinational Cinema at the Sydney Film Festival,” Senses of Cinema 80 (September 2016).
    • Mattes, Ari. "Representing Capital: A Review of Anthony Macris' Capital, Volume One." U:, August 2014, p.17.
  • Conference papers

    Invited Presentations and Workshops:

    • “Accidents Über Alles,” American Cultures Workshop, US Studies Centre, University of Sydney, 11 November, 2019.
    • “The Ontology of the Victim in the World at Risk,” American Cultures Workshop, US Studies Centre, University of Sydney, 6 June, 2018.
    • “Last Words of the Condemned: Christian Rhetoric in the American Abolition Debate,” American Cultures Workshop, US Studies Centre, University of Sydney, 22 November 2017.
    • Paper respondent to Ben Eldridge, “A Crysis of Perspective: (S)pawning Subjectivity in Interactive Media,” Sydney Screen Studies Seminar, UNSW, 24 May, 2017.
    • “Florida Film: Sun, Sand, Screen,” Centre for Modernism Studies Australia, UNSW, May 2016.

    Conference Presentations:

    • "Kim Kardashian, Attorney: Keeping up with the Apocalypse,” Juris Apocalypse Now!: Law in End Times, Law, Literature and Humanities Association of Australia, Southern Cross University, 2-4 December 2019 (with Diana Shahinyan).
    • “Accidents Über Alles: Technology and American Disaster,” Literature and the Moving Image (Camera-Stylo III), Macquarie University, 11-13 July 2019.
    • “The Cinema of Accidents: Hollywood Cinema in the Disaster Ecology,” Screen Conference, University of Glasgow, 23-25 June 2017.
    • “The Cinema of Accidents: Writing the Disaster in the Hollywood Ecology,” Camera-Stylo: Intersections in Literature and Cinema, University of Sydney, 10-12 July, 2017.
    • “Staging the Post-Cinematic City: New Representations of Digital-Urban Mobility in Hollywood’s Miami,” New Directions in Film-Architecture, University of Newcastle, 1-2 December 2016.
    • “Televisual Affect in Early Haneke,” 24 Shocks a Second: The Cinema of Michael Haneke, University of Sydney, 3 November 2016.
    • “The Man Who Fell to America: Anti-Apocalyptic Autology in the Fiction of Walter Tevis,” Australian and New Zealand American Studies Association Conference, US Studies Centre, University of Sydney, 6-8 July 2016.
    • “Assassin Aesthetics: Nietzsche as Metaphysical Sniper,” Nietzsche & Aesthetics: A Research Symposium, UNSW, 7 December 2015.
    • “No Dark Sarcasm in the Classroom: Pedagogy in the Age of Revolution Without Reason,” Reason Plus Enjoyment, UNSW, 10-14 July 2015.
    • “Antipodean Dream, Antipodean Nightmare: Spatial Ideologies in Australian Literature and Cinema,” Literary Networks Convention – AULLA, ASAL & AAL, University of Wollongong, 7-11 July 2015.
    • “Imagining Excess: Hollywood’s ‘Florida’ and the American Dream,”  The State and US Culture Industries,” United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney, 25-26 June 2015.
    • “The Apatow Effect: Contemporary Hollywood Comedy and the Banal Verbal Double,” Camera-Stylo: Intersections in Literature and Cinema, University of Sydney, 8-10 April 2015.
    • “Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers (2012): Toward a Theory of Accidental Narrative,” SCMS Annual Conference, Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, Montreal, Canada, 25-29 March 2015.
    • “Spring Breakers: Accidental Narrative in the Black Box”, Aesthetics After Finitude, National Institute for Experimental Arts (UNSW Art & Design), Sydney, 5-6 February 2015.
    • “Jonathan Kaplan’s Unlawful Entry (1992) and the Radicalization of Suburban Space,” Architecture_MPS: The Mediated City Part 2 Los Angeles, Woodbury University, Burbank, CA, 1-4 October 2014.
    • “The Cinema of Cruelty: Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and the Emancipatory Action-Spectacle,” PopCAANZ 5th Annual International Conference, Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart, Tasmania, 18-20 June 2014.
    • "Friday Night's a Great Night for Movies: The Last Boy Scout and the Anti-Spectacular Action Film." POPCAANZ 4th Annual International Conference, Sofitel Hotel, Brisbane, 24-26 June 2013.
    • “From Nam to Afghanistan: The Dirty Dozen, The Expendables and the Sanitization of Action Cinema in post 9-11 America.” POPCAANZ 3rd Annual International Conference, Langham Hotel, Melbourne, 27-29 June 2012.
    • “From Steam to Mean: White Heat and the Electrification of Genre.” FHAANZ Conference – Cinema, Modernity and Modernism, UNSW, Sydney, 30th November-3rd December 2010.
    • “The Missing, in Action: The Vietnam War and American Ahistoricism.” Film & History Conference – War in Film, Television, and History, Dolce International Conference Center, Dallas/Fort Worth, TX, 9-12 November 2004.
    • “Future Disease: The Italian Post-Apocalypse Film” at the “Contaminations” Conference, UNSW.
    • “The Prejudice of Extremes: Extreme Prejudice and American Cultural Consciousness” at the annual English Conference, Sydney University
  • Original creative works

    • Mattes, A. (2012) ‘The Toys Do Not Speak’, Regime Magazine 1 (1), pp.6-15, 2013
    • Mattes, A. (2012) ‘RomCom’, Hide Your Fires: UTS Writers Anthology (Sydney: UTS) pp.240-246, 2012
  • In the media

    • Mattes, Ari. "Total Recall at 30: why this brutal action film remains a classic." The Conversation, 28 October 2020.
    • Mattes, Ari. “Bill & Ted Face the Music review: party on, dudes – this film is as sweet and daggy as its predecessors.” The Conversation, 10 September 2020.
    • Mattes, Ari. “In The Meddler, we join a creeping nightcrawler as he chronicles death.” The Conversation, 7 August 2020.
    • Mattes, Ari. “Escape from Pretoria review: a film of anti-apartheid nostalgia for apartheid.” The Conversation, 1 June 2020.
    • Mattes, Ari. “It was a very good year – but which Best Picture nominee will win an Oscar?” The Conversation, 6 February 2020.
    • Mattes, Ari. “Friday essay: eco-disaster films in the 21st century – helpful or harmful?” The Conversation, 21 May 2019.
    • Mattes, Ari. “Strippers on film: battlers, showgirls and hustlers.” The Conversation, 4 November 2019.
    • Mattes, Ari. “The Joker’s origin story comes at a perfect moment: clowns define our times.” The Conversation, 11 September 2019.
    • Mattes, Ari. “Five films not to miss from the 2019 Sydney Film Festival.” The Conversation, 18 June 2019.
    • Mattes, Ari. “The Nightingale: much ado about nothing.” The Conversation, 12 June 2019.
    • Mattes, Ari. “Rockabul, a tale of a metal band in Kabul, reinvigorates the radical spirit of rock ‘n’ roll.” The Conversation, 21 May 2019.
    • Mattes, Ari. “Best Picture at the Oscars? Why It Has to Be The Favourite Out of a Weak Bunch.” The Conversation, 19 February 2019.
    • Mattes, Ari. “The Year in Film: From Witchy Hits to a Superhero Miss.” The Conversation, 24 December 2018.
    • Mattes, Ari. “The Best Thing About the New Oz Horror Film The School is Its Poster.” The Conversation, 7 December, 2018.
    • Mattes, Ari. “Venom: An Excellent Superhero Film, Perhaps Best Not Experienced in 4DX.” The Conversation, 9 October, 2018.
    • Mattes, Ari. “From Klansmen to a Kindergarten Teacher: The Unmissable Films of Sydney Film Festival.” The Conversation, 19 June, 2018.
    • Mattes, Ari. “Upgrade is an Extremely Pleasurable Sci-fi Revenge Film.” The Conversation, 11 June, 2018.
    • Mattes, Ari. “The Australian Zombie Horror Cargo is Burdened by its Own Gravitas.” The Conversation, 18 May, 2018.
    • Mattes, Ari. “Cannes is Right, Netflix Movies Just Aren’t the Same.” The Conversation, 2 May, 2018.
    • Mattes, Ari. “A Critical Guide to the Oscar Best Pic Nominees – and Why Call Me By Your Name is the Standout.” The Conversation, 28 February, 2018.
    • Mattes, Ari. “2017 in Film: A Return to Form for the Hollywood Blockbuster.” The Conversation, 25 December 2017.
    • Mattes, Ari. "Wonder Woman and Aquaman are the only charismatic leads in Justice League." The Conversation, 16 November 2017.
    • Mattes, Ari. "Thor: Ragnarok, a joyous, trashy, retro-nostalgic comedy, is the best of the Marvel films." The Conversation, 20 October, 2017
    • Mattes, Ari. “The Top Five Films of the Sydney Film Festival (and the rest),” The Conversation, 20 June 2017
    • Mattes, Ari. “Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur – a Triumph of Modern Spectacle,” The Conversation, 17 May 2017
    • Mattes, Ari. “Los Angeles Overnight – One of the Best Films You Will (Probably) Never See,” The Conversation, 15 May 2017
    • Mattes, Ari. “A Critical Guide to the Oscar Best Pic Contenders – and Why Moonlight Should Win,” The Conversation, 23 February 2017
    • Mattes, Ari. “Australian Cinema for Australia Day,” The Conversation, 25 January 2017
    • Mattes, Ari. “2017: The Year Ahead in Cinema,” The Conversation, 23 January 2017
    • Mattes, Ari. “Lion is a Well-Made Melodrama with a Rather Disturbing Message,” The Conversation, 9 January 2017
    • Mattes, Ari. “2016: The Year of the Mediocre Film,” The Conversation, 20 December 2016
    • Mattes, Ari. “Halloween Films: The Good, the Bad, and the Truly Scary,” The Conversation, 31 October 2016
    • Mattes, Ari. “The BBC’s Top 100 21st Century Films? Give Me a Break!” The Conversation, 28 August 2016
    • Mattes, Ari. “Weiner’s Erotic Mediation: Bill Clinton’s Sex vs Anthony Weiner’s Sexting,” The Conversation, 4 August 2016
    • Mattes, Ari. “The Five Must-see Films of the Sydney Film Festival,” The Conversation, 21 June 2016
    • Mattes, Ari. “The Logies: A Yearly Advertisement for Australian TV,” The Conversation, 9 May 2016
    • Mattes, Ari. “Depp, Heard, Joyce – the Future of Cinema and its Critique,” The Conversation, 20 April 2016
    • Mattes, Ari. “The Witch – Excellent Supernatural Fodder,” The Conversation, 3 April 2016
    • Mattes, Ari. “‘Politics Lite’ as Usual in Oscar’s Bluff,” The Conversation, 2 March 2016
    • Mattes, Ari. “Will Inarritu Win His Fourth Oscar for The Revenant? Do You Care?” The Conversation, 28 February 2016
    • Mattes, Ari. “Hail, Caesar! or Hollywood, at Least,” The Conversation, 26 February 2016
    • Mattes, Ari. “Home Alone Feeling Scrooged? These Christmas Moveis Deserve Some Love, Actually,” The Conversation, 17 December 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. “Ending with a Bang or a Whimper? The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II,” The Conversation, 23 November 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. “Reflections on Paris: Technics and Terrorism in Vision Culture,” The Conversation, 17 November 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. “Thinking Through (Popular) Film,” The Conversation, 4 November 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. “Serial Commenting, Serial Killing: Some Notes on Web 2.0 and Kevin Williamson’s The Following,” The Conversation, 21 October 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. “Black Mass: A Remorselessly Bleak ‘True Crime’ Gangster Film,” The Conversation, 8 October 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. “Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth: Visually Magnificent but Dramatically Unsatisfying,” The Conversation, 30 September 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. “The Visit and Other ‘Accidental’ Horror Films,” The Conversation, 29 September 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. “Godzilla – A Tale of the Times,” The Conversation, 20 September 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. “ISIS Propaganda and gangsta rap videos," The Conversation, 8 September 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. "Straight Outta Compton - why now?," The Conversation, 2 September 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. "Wes Craven: Revisiting The People Under the Stairs," The Conversation, 31 August 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. "Pasolini, with Willem Dafoe, offers an unconventional biopic," The Conversation, 12 June 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. "Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon," The Conversation, 9 June 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. “Frenzy on Fury Road: Mad Max faces a post-digital apocalypse,” The Conversation, 14 May 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. “The Clouds of Sils Maria: a star-studded film about stardom,” The Conversation, 7 May 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. “Love in the Age of Mass Migration in Eastern Boys,” The Conversation, 24 February 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. “Perry Keyes’ Tales of Sydney’s Western Suburbs,” The Conversation, 20 January 2015
    • Mattes, Ari. “Nathan Hindmarsh, insidious advertising and normalising problem gambling,” The Conversation, 12 August 2013
  • Professional Affiliations

    Society for Cinema and Media Studies
    The Popular Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand
    Modern Language Association

  • Community engagement

    • ABC Radio (Sydney), Afternoons with Josh Szeps, What Makes a Film a Classic? (18 September 2020)
    • ABC Radio (Sydney), Afternoons with James Valentine, Genre and Hollywood (16 June 2020)
    • 2SER (Sydney), Are Eco-Disaster Films a True Reflection of the Future? (18 December 2019)
    • ABC Radio (Tasmania), Strippers on Film (13 November 2019)
    • 2SER (Sydney), Hustlers and the History of Strippers on Our Screens (6 November 2019)
    • ABC Radio (National), The Joker on Film
    • ABC Radio (Perth), The Joker on Film
    • ABC Radio (Sydney), Afternoons with James Valentine (Chris Taylor), James Dean (30 September 2019)
    • ABC Radio (Sydney), The Oscars (19th February, 2019)
    • 2SER (Sydney), Horror Films (10th January, 2019)
    • Interviewee - online article,  Paul Donahue, “Disney is no longer just that thing from your childhood. It is a cultural powerhouse” ABC News, 17 December 2018
    • ABC Radio Sydney, 4DX and Venom (9th October 2018)
    • ABC Radio National, National Evenings, Horror Films (13th January, 2018)
    • 2017 ABC (Central Victoria), Halloween (31st October 2017)
    • ABC (South East SA), Halloween and Horror Films (31st October 2017)
    • 2SER (Sydney), Halloween and Cultural Appropriation (31st October 2017)
    • ABC radio (national), drive, The Year Ahead in Cinema (radio interview)
    • 2016 ABC radio (WA), The Year of the Mediocre Film (radio interview)
    • ABC radio (WA), Halloween Films (radio interview)
    • 2SER (NSW), Sydney Film Festival (radio interview)
    • 2015  SYN Media (VIC), “Represent,” Terrorism and Media (radio interview)
    • ABC Radio (WA), lunch, Social Media (radio interview)
    • “Dimensions of the Psyche in the Film Calvary,” CG Jung Society, Sydney Mechanics’ School, 10 April 2015 (Public Lecture)
    • 2014 “No More Monsters: Australian Horror Cinema and Boredom,” Yeah Sessions, Yulli’s, Surry Hills, 21 October 2014 (Public Lecture)
    • 2013 “Jurassic Park’s Dr Ian Malcolm was correct when he says ‘Dinosaurs had their shot, and nature selected them for extinction.’ It’s wrong to bring back an extinct species,” Jurassic Lounge, Australian Museum, 5 November 2013 (Public Debate)
    • “Anyone can be a photographer, but filmmaking requires real skill,” Jurassic Lounge, Australian Museum, 10 October 2013 (Public Debate)