Nature as Culture: Creativity and Place in Art and Writing
27 September 2011
Monash Staff Club, Monash University, Clayton Campus
This conference explores nature's role in the inception of culture. Culture is the time-honoured context for creative change in Western thought. Traditionally, nature and culture have been seen in opposition to one another. Since the nineteenth century, the metropolis with its avant-garde bohemian milieux has been associated with artistic breakthroughs and maturity.
As Elizabeth Grosz comments, nature has been conceived either as 'a passive, inert, ahistorical burden...or else as a romanticised refuge or haven from the cultural.' But it's vital to rethink nature's status and 'to allow it to account for the very inception of culture itself.' Rather than being viewed as static, remote and closed, nature can be viewed as dynamic, intimate, sentient and responsive. Indigenous cultures have always privileged and interacted with nature in this way.
The idea for this conference has grown from Dr Janine Burke's recent book Source: Nature's Healing Role in Art and Writing (2009) which explores the transformative impact of landscape on Picasso, Virginia Woolf, Jackson Pollock and Emily Kame Kngwarreye, among others.
The symposium will close with a special event: a performance by Dr Jane Montgomery Griffiths, Research Fellow, ECPS, Monash University. In 2010, Dr Griffiths wrote and performed the highly acclaimed play Sappho...in 9 fragments at the Malthouse Theatre.
- Dr David Tacey, Associate Professor, English Program, La Trobe University.
Dr Tacey is the author of significant books in this field including Edge of the Sacred: Transformation in Australia (1995)and ReEnchantment: The New Australian Spirituality (2000).
- Associate Professor John Bradley, Centre for Aboriginal and Indigenous Studies, Monash University
Recordings of Papers
Download recordings below, or subscribe to our School's podcast to automatically download these and many more papers. Details on our podcasting page.
The Sacredness of Nature: Animism, Spirit and the Aboriginal Gift
Associate Professor David Tacey
Ethnographic Sources of Modernism: The Australian Influence
Dr John Hawke
The Mythology of Gardens
Associate Professor Robert Nelson
Exploding the Binaries
Dr Edward Colless
Jackson Pollock: The Artist as ‘Shaman’
Dr Janine Burke
Past and Present Conferences and Seminars
Visit our archives of conferences and seminars - recordings of many papers are available for download: