Skip to the content | Change text size

Nature as Culture: Creativity and Place in Art and Writing

Graphic: Nature as Culture

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.

Special Event

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.

Keynote Speakers

Invited Speakers

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

podcast icon Download a recording of this paper in MP3 format

Ethnographic Sources of Modernism: The Australian Influence

Dr John Hawke

podcast icon Download a recording of this paper in MP3 format

The Mythology of Gardens

Associate Professor Robert Nelson

podcast icon Download a recording of this paper in MP3 format

Exploding the Binaries

Jill Orr

podcast icon Download a recording of this paper in MP3 format

Network Ecologies

Geraldine Barlow

podcast icon Download a recording of this paper in MP3 format

Denaturing

Dr Edward Colless

podcast icon Download a recording of this paper in MP3 format

Jackson Pollock: The Artist as ‘Shaman’

Dr Janine Burke

podcast icon Download a recording of this paper in MP3 format

Supporters

Social Aesthetics Research Unit

Past and Present Conferences and Seminars

Visit our archives of conferences and seminars - recordings of many papers are available for download: