пятница, 20 мая 2011 г.

Visualizing Australia: Images, Icons and Imaginations - Representing the Continent at Home and Abroad

13th Biennial GASt Conference in Stuttgart
Visualizing Australia: Images, Icons and Imaginations - Representing the Continent at Home and Abroad
University of Stuttgart, Germany

The conference topic concentrates on visual representations of Australia. Visual images with their immediate and direct appeal are particularly powerful vehicles of national identity, transporting ideas of an -imagined community' (Benedict Anderson). Some images are recognized as quintessentially "Australian" in spite of evidence that their legitimacy lies in collective myths. These myths, or nationalist narratives, are reiterated through the continual use of key pictorial icons. Investigating the multiple layers of meaning which images accrue in the course of becoming lodged in the cultural imagination can reveal key moments in the narrative of nation, country or region.

Bush landscapes, Aboriginal bark painting, Uluru, shearers, life-savers and surfers, kangaroos and koalas; these are some of the images associated with Australia all over the world, becoming icons of Australianness through medial forms such as art, cinema or advertising. These images are by no means static, reacting to or reflecting upon (violent) disruptions in the narrative of the nation: Desert images of Uluru are challenged by those of Woomera; life-savers by the Cronulla rioter. Such changes rest uneasily with hitherto comfortable notions of Australia as an easy-going, egalitarian culture. The historicity of specific images underlines the importance of diachronic approaches, key to ascertaining different phases of visual (self-)definition.

An increased awareness of uneven power balance in visuality and visibility informs recent representations of Australia. In examining how images of national self-fashioning shape-shift and transform, historical assessments that seek to determine different phases in the construction of Australianness on the basis of significant central images will be particularly welcome. The tensions between what people outside Australia consider its distinguishing features and what locals recognize as such constitute particularly fertile grounds for the exploration of the engendering of national identities through visual imaginings. Analyzing examples of visual imaging in various media and practices can reveal similarities and differences between Australian images and their use and reception abroad. Such transnational perspectives are particularly welcome to ensure a hermeneutic process that avoids a reduction to exclusively internal and national perspectives.

The purpose of concentrating on visual representations and practices is to raise the level of awareness of the social, political and economic conditions which inform the production as well as the reception of images and to create an awareness of the pitfalls of sorting them into easily available stereotypical slots.

Contributors are invited from a broad range of disciplines and institutional affiliations. Suggested thematic clusters include:

  • Visual arts: painting, photography, performance
  • Visual media: cinema, TV, internet
  • Visual forums and formats: museums, exhibitions, anniversaries, events, narratives
  • Visual practices in tourism, advertising, mapping
  • Icons, stereotypes and figurations of Australian people: constructions of race, gender and age
  • Landscape, space and place: conflicting images of natural resources and ecological concerns
  • Discourses of visuality: power structures of seeing, visibility, access to visual media/ representation, narrative (constructions of) identity
  • Visual Culture and the classroom

Please send your proposals by February 29th 2012 to: nina.juergens@ilw.uni-stuttgart.de

We ask international guests who would like to attend to respond with a (preliminary) title by 15.06.2011 in order to facilitate possible funding opportunities.

Conference Conveners:
Prof. Dr. Renate Brosch
Universität Stuttgart
Institut für Literaturwissenschaft

Jr. Prof. Kylie Crane
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Fachbereich Translations-, Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaft (FTSK)

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