On Wednesday 15 September 2021, the Climate Change Communication and Narratives Network was joined by Professor Tony-Hughes-d’Aeth as part of our ongoing lecture series on Australian climate literature.
Tony Hughes-d’Aeth offered some observations about the qualities that define Australian fiction in the Anthropocene. He focused on novels by Richard Flanagan, Jennifer Mills, Alexis Wright, Ellen van Neerven, Tara June Winch, Claire G. Coleman, Donna Mazza, James Bradley and Laura Jean McKay. He worked from the idea that the Anthropocene represents a limit and that fictions that address the Anthropocene express the qualities of that limit.
Tony Hughes-d’Aeth is the Chair of Australian Literature at the University of Western Australia. His books include Like Nothing on this Earth: A Literary History of the Wheatbelt (UWAP, 2017), which won the Walter McRae Russell Prize for Australian literary scholarship, and Paper Nation: The Story of the Picturesque Atlas of Australasia (MUP, 2001), which won the Ernest Scott and WK Hancock prizes for Australian history.
You can watch a recording of the presentation below.
What challenges and opportunities are there for strengthening solidarity in furthering the goals of climate action and planetary justice?
Experiences of action will be shared from those positioned within and beyond the academy seeking climate justice. They join from Australia, India, New Zealand, Canada and Scotland to explore the dilemmas of the relationship between activism and the academy. The day builds on two years of dialogues convened by the Earth Unbound Collective: a collective situated at the nexus of debates on migration, xenophobic nationalism, Indigenous dispossession, extractive capitalism, extinction and climate change.
The Mangroves from the Water exhibition opened on Saturday 14 August 2021. Mangroves from the Water is founded by network member Zahidah Zeytoun Millie, and seeks to:
encourage viewers to realise the beauty and importance of mangroves,
protect wetlands and mangroves globally which have a strong tie to indigenous people,
encourage discussion about the mangroves, sea grasses and wetlands, to be held at the Gallery during the exhibition period, and
emphasise the importance of finding heritage and contemporary storytelling of mangroves that act as a reference point for cultural identity and popular memory in Victoria.
Al the information for the recent exhibition and past exhibitions are detailed in the Mangroves from the Water blog. The exhibition catalogue can be accessed here. A video of the opening ceremony is linked below.
The MFTW exhibition also presented three short films, one was a performance dance in the mangroves at Lake Conneware, Barwon Heads, while the other two films produced by two French artists. Here is a link for one of the three films which we sent to the Barwon heads Primary School.
The exhibition was accompanied by four workshops, including a painting and kayaking workshop Zahdiah Zeytoun Millie ran on Saturday 21 August. Three artists ran a monoprinting, performance dance and storytelling workshops.
The Sharjah Institute of Heritage of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) supported our exhibition with an Arab majlis, books, Arab coffee, dates and a special issue of Al Mawruth magazine about the mangroves. A connection with the Institute is ongoing and will donate these exhibits to the School of Heritage and Museum Studies at Deakin.
As part of the Faculty’s series of seminars by Deakin’s research groups, CCCNN presented on some of the work being undertaken by our network members. The seminar took the form of a summary of recent CCCNN activities and planned initiatives, 5-minute summaries of network-aligned research by several members, and then a short Q&A follow up. Thanks to these members who presented: Erin Hawley, Adam Cardilini, Rachel Fetherston, Eliza Henry-Jones, Susan Byrne, Gabi Mocatta, Jack Kirne & Emily Potter.
On July 13, CCCNN was joined by Dinah Arndt from The Climate Council.
The Climate Council is Australia’s leading climate communications organisation. It provides authoritative, expert advice to Australians on climate change and solutions based on the most up-to-date science. They have an emphasis on changing the public narrative, and since their founding in 2013 they have published tens of thousands of media stories and supported hundreds of diverse voices with that aim in mind. In the presentation, Head of Strategic Communications Dinah Arndt outlines the latest trends in climate communications, how the Climate Council approaches its work, and the research that underpins this.
On Wednesday 9 June 2021, we were joined by Dr Jessica White, who gave a fabulous presentation on Australian Cli-Fi. Jessica White is the author of the novels A Curious Intimacy (2007) and Entitlement (2012) and a hybrid memoir about deafness, Hearing Maud (2019), which won the Micahel Crouch award for debut biography and was shortlisted for four major literary awards. Her short stories, essays and poems have appeared widely in Australian and international literary journals and she has won awards, funding and residencies. She is currently Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing and English Literature at UniSA, where she is writing an ecobiography of Western Australia’s first non-Indigenous female scientist, 19th-century botanist Georgiana Molloy.
An abstract and recording of her presentation are available below.
Australian Cli-Fi: Fiction or Reality?
‘We need new ways of speaking about uncertain futures’ writes Muninjali author Ellen van Neerven in ‘The Country is Like a Body’, her essay on climate change and Aboriginal knowledge. She continues, ‘The term “climate change” is often too vague and removed for the here and now of rising seas, changing temperatures and species devastation to sink in. Australians’ habitats – our homes and our cultures – are at risk’. Drawing on the ‘Climate Change in Australian Narratives’ dataset in the Australian Literature database, this paper provides a survey of climate fiction in Australia, which emerged with the publication of George Turner’s 1987 novel The Sea and Summer. It attends to some of the structural consistencies of climate fiction (for example, the mosaic novel), themes (grief, loss, and parents and children) and subgenres such as the near-future novel (for example, Anchor Point by Alice Robinson, 2015) and includes analysis of climate fiction by Aboriginal writers, such as Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book (2013) and Ellen van Neerven’s story ‘Water’ from their collection Heat and Light (2014). The paper aims to arrive at a sense of the ways in which Australia’s writers are responding to threats to the continent’s unique landforms, ecosystems and human and other-than human species.
Rea Dennis’ work Intertidal (3 channel video) an investigation of somatic rhythms associated with migratory shorebird habitat is showing at Mornington Peninsular Regional Gallery as part of The Overwintering Project Westernport, project curator by Kate Gorringe-Smith and gallery curator Danny Lacy, until 23 May 2021. This exhibition has included key community engagement practices to communicate about the essential nature of Westernport habitat to the migratory shorebirds and as a critical habitat on the flyway, including a performance series entitled Stories from Home, that Dennis has curated as part of Migratory Shorebird Day on 8 May, funded by East-Asian Australasian Flyways Partnership, in which experiences of human migration feature alongside the environmental messages.
For more information about The Overwintering Project, see here.
For more information about the exhibition: The Overwintering Project Westernport see here.
For more information about EAAFP and world migratory bird day see here.
On Wednesday, April 28 2021, the Climate Change Communication and Narratives Network was joined by Dr Deborah Jordan, Nina Clark and Dr Catriona Mills to discuss Climate Change in Australian Narratives and the Austlit database.
AustLit is the key resource for Australian literary studies. This seminar introduced and discussed the AustLit project Climate Change in Australian Narratives, designed to shine a light on the ways that Australian writers are currently addressing and have, in the past, explored the most urgent environmental, social, and technological concern of current generations. The project highlights Australian creative and critical writing that examines the impacts of human-induced climate change and provides necessary contextualising information on the science and consciousness-raising work at the community level. This presentation focused particularly on the depth and range of the Climate Change Narratives project; questions of environmental and political aesthetics and political; and the interface between science and fictional representations.
A recording of the presentation is available here.
About the Speakers Dr Deborah Jordan, project leader for AustLit’s Climate Change in Australian Narratives, is an award-winning historian, biographer, and Petherick Reader at the National Library of Australia, research fellow (adj) in History Monash University, and associate researcher with the T. J. Ryan Foundation at the Queensland University of Technology. She has published widely in Australian cultural history and women’s history, has held research fellowships at The University of Queensland, the National Library, Deakin, and Flinders University, and is author of six commissioned history books and numerous reports. She has also worked as a co-operative weather observer for the Bureau of Meteorology.
Nina Clark was an undergraduate student at The University of Queensland, completing a Bachelors’ Degree focusing on zoology, film and television, and writing, when she interned on the Climate Change in Australian Narratives project. She is interested in climate change in both a scientific and communications aspect. Her role as a student scholar in the climate change project allowed her to dig deep into the treasure trove of literature that is AustLit and build a project combining science and literature. Her research project focused on ‘Climate change representation of coastal areas in Australian literature over the past 100 years’, using the concept of a sediment core as her theoretical framework.
Dr Catriona Mills is interim Director of AustLit: Discover Australian Stories database. She began work with AustLit in 2010 and has since worked on a range of research projects. She holds degrees from Macquarie University and The University of Queensland and has published on adaptations of penny-weekly serials to the English suburban stage, authorship attribution in Australian nineteenth-century periodicals, steampunk, and Doctor Who.
Network co-convener Gabi Mocatta has recently published with her colleague Rebecca Harris on the changing discourses of climate crisis in the community, and why these may give us hope for the necessary action to avert climate catastrophe.
On Thursday the 25th of April, the CCCNN hosted a workshop led by Dr Chloe Lucas, a Research Fellow and climate communication specialist in the Discipline of Geography at UTAS. Dr Chloe Lucas is a communication specialist whose research explores the social dimensions of climate change. As a documentary producer, an environmental communications consultant, and now as an academic, Chloe’s career has focused on ways to improve communication about climate and sustainability across all sections of society. Her research explores the values and experiences underlying different social responses to climate change and identifies pathways to more empathetic and inclusive climate conversations. Her recent work focuses on how communication and cultural context drives social adaptation to extreme weather events including bushfires.
In our discussion, Dr Lucas explored how cultural narratives about human relationships with nature, scientific rationality, and self-in-the-world are central to people’s understanding of climate change. Drawing on multiple interviews with people who were unconcerned about climate change, she discussed how these grouped cultural narratives can inform us about climate change discourse. Placing narratives of unconcern in the context of narratives of concern, Lucas examined what they tell us about processes of climate change communication, and at a broader scale, about the experience of living in late modernity.
Video and audio recordings of the workshop are available below.