Past Events

Past Events

Samoan Language Week 2019

Date: 26 May – 1 June 2019

Time: 12.00 am

Venue: Wansolwara, Kelburn Library, Level 2, Kelburn Parade

Talofa Lava!!!

We hope that you can join us in celebrating Samoan Language Week (SLW) for 2019. The theme for this year is:

‘Lalaga le si’osi’omaga mo se lumana’i manuia’ - ‘Weave an environment for a better future’

To celebrate the start of Samoan Language Week, there will be a launch at the Wansolwara space, Level 2 of the Kelburn Library.

All welcome to see students in our Samoan and Pacific Studies courses embrace the culture through various activities from debates to performances!!

Click here for the Monday Launch Programme.

For more information on events happening at Victoria for Samoan Language Week - click here.

For nationwide celebrations throughout Samoan Language Week - check out the Ministry of Pacific Peoples website.

Postgraduate Students' Breakfast

Date: 10 October 2016

Time: 8.30 am

Venue: Murphy Level 3 Foyer

Catch up with FHSS staff and students and recharge after the long winter months!

Poster for postgraduate breakfast event.

Honours' Information Session

Date: 29 September 2016

Time: 12.00 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz, Kelburn Parade

Honours Info Session poster

You're invited to join us for an Honour's information session to find out all about your options for 2017.  We look forward to seeing you there!

2016 New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation Annual Lecture Interpreting ‘The Bacchae’ by Euripides in Māori: A Discussion with Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal

Date: 28 September 2016

Time: 6.00 pm

Venue: HMLT 104, Hugh McKenzie Building, Kelburn Campus

Hosted by The New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation/ Te Tumu Whakawhiti Tuhinga o Aotearoa and the School of Languages and Cultures

Bacchae Lecture

Dialogue Across Time and Space: Homage on the 400th Anniversary of the Death of Tang Xianzu and Shakespeare

Date: 23 September – 2 October 2016

Time: 6.00 pm

Venue: Paramount Cinema, 25 Courtenay Place

Exhibition flyer picturing Tang Xianu and Shakepeare for 'Dialogue across space and time

China Cultural Centre NZ is pleased to invited you to the opening of Dialogue Across Time and Space. A Tribute to William Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu.

As a joint commemoration of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu, two literary legends from the West and East respectively, this exhibition showcases both of their legacies to the worlds literature through the comparison of their works, social and cultural backgrounds.

It aims to provide an access for the public to understand and appreciate Shakespeare and Tang's contribution to later generations, and to exhibit Chinese aesthetics and culture through a contemporary perspective.

Featured speakers include:

  • The Weight of Greatness: Tang Xianzu and Shakespeare—Megan Evans, senior lecturer, Victoria University of Wellington
  • Turning over the Earth: Replacing The Peony Pavillion in Māoriland—David Howard, Poet and author of The Mica Pavilion
  • Staged Reading of The Mica Pavilion—Victoria University Theatre Programme Graduates

Making Transpositions Visible: New Zealand Poetry in Letterpress

Date: 26 August 2016

Time: 10.00 am

Venue: Wai-te-ata Press, Room 006 Rankine Brown, Gate 3, Kelburn Parade, Kelburn Campus, Wellington 6012

Unleash the power of poetry through lead, ink and paper. Come for an hour, be converted for life; National Poetry Day is your opportunity to taste the letterpress revival for free at Wai-te-ata Press. In conjunction with Transpositions: Celebrating NZ Poetry in Translation, guests are encouraged to bring one line from a NZ woman poet to typeset. The lines will be compiled into a collaborative ‘found’ poem and printed as an A3 poster at the end of the day. Guests will receive a copy of their creation to help keep letterpress alive.

Entry details: Free, drop in for an hour from 10am until 3pm

Contact: Sydney Shep,

This event is part of National Poetry Day celebrations.

Film Screening of Ettore Scola’s A Special Day

Date: 8 July 2016

Time: 7.30 pm

Venue: Paramount Cinema, 25 Courtenay Place, Wellington

The History and Italian Programmes, with the support of the Embassy of Italy and Rainbow Wellington, invite you to a screening of Ettore Scola’s masterpiece A Special Day, to mark the director’s passing earlier this year and to reflect on the historic significance of Italy’s recent legislation on same-sex unions.  This event is part of the ‘Italies, Visible and Invisible’ conference, held at Victoria University on 8 and 9 July.

Mark Seymour is Associate Professor of History at the University of Otago;
Sally Hill is the Head of the School of Languages and Cultures at Victoria University;
Giacomo Lichtner teaches History and Film at Victoria University.

The event is free and open to the public, but spaces are limited.

RSVP to Giacomo Lichtner (

Shi Hua Cha - Celebration of Poetry, Ink art and Chinese tea

Date: 22–23 November 2015

Time: 4.00 pm

Venue: Charles Plimmer House, Innermost Gardens  

A celebration of poetry, ink art and Chinese tea with six poets presented by the New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation and the Confucius Institute

Shu Hua Cha

Research Seminar Dr Myreille Pawliez (French Stuidies Programme)

Date: 5 November 2015

Time: 4.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, Level 6, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: Space in Michèle Mailhot’s Novels

Abstract: Michèle Mailhot is a Quebec writer whose literary writing spans three decades (1964 to 1990). The aim of this seminar is to report on the research I conducted for a chapter of a book dedicated to her, and in which I investigate the issue of space in her seven novels, which are all very introspective. Space has not been much researched by literary theorists and hardly any research exists on the subject in relation to the author’s works. Viewing space as a linguistic and signifying construct, I closely examine all textual references to, and description of places and spaces incorporating narratological aspects such as focalising and narrative entities. First, I explore how space is embedded and perceived in each text. Then, I pinpoint the imagery and symbolism of the spatial system that emerges in Michèle Mailhot’s œuvre. My presentation, being a synthesis, will address pre-existing studies and existing approaches relating to space, and will present my methodology and findings. No French will be used.

Bio: Dr Myreille Pawliez is a Senior Lecturer in the French Programme at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research, especially devoted to Michèle Mailhot’s writing, encompasses her seven novels and two published diaries. Dr Myreille Pawliez has produced various studies focusing on the narratological, semantic, cultural, and historical dimensions of Mailhot’s writing.

Research Seminar - Dr Monica Tempian (German Stuidies Programme)

Date: 15 October 2015

Time: 12.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, Level 6, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: Crossing Borders—Blurring Borders: The Dialogue of Manfred Winkler’s Poetry

Despite winning the Israel Prize for Literature in 1999, German-language survivor-writer, translator, painter and sculptor Manfred Winkler has only recently received critical attention by scholars of German Studies. One of the reasons for this is that Winkler has spent much of his lifetime and his long published writing career crossing geographical, national, ideological and linguistic borders, and the cultural and general historical significance of his poetry was only recognised in the context of a growing interest in intercultural literary research. Born in the former Austro-Hungarian province of Bukovina, Manfred Winkler survived imprisonment in the Czernowitz ghetto, deportation to forced labour camps and forced relocation to Communist Romania at the end of the Second World War, eventually immigrating to Israel. There by hard degrees he became Paul Celan’s most important translator into Hebrew, and conversely, of Palestinian and Israeli poets into German, and – due to his intercultural writing – one of Israel’s most challenging contemporary poets.

This research seminar reflects and explores the incredible variety of Manfred Winkler's border crossings and positions his writing in its various cultural contexts. It outlines the central themes and tendencies in the work of a writer who represents the darkness of war by orchestrating the memory of the Shoah and the events of the Jewish-Arab conflict with a sense of grief rather than from a position of appellative judgement and in doing this delineates the fault lines and turning points of almost the entire 20th century.

Monica Tempian (DrPhil Geneva) is Senior Lecturer in the German Programme at Victoria University of Wellington. She is currently preparing the first Critical Edition of Manfred Winkler's Complete Works in collaboration with Professor Hans-Jürgen Schrader of Geneva University.

Research Seminar - Dr Miguel Arnedo-Gomez (Spanish & Latin American Studies Programme)

Date: 1 October 2015

Time: 12.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, Level 6, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: Nicolás Guillén, Mestizaje, and the Struggle with a Heterogeneous Mulatto Identity in ‘Balada de los dos abuelos’ and ‘El apellido’

This presentation focuses on two poems by the Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén in which he delves into the issue of his own racial or ethnic identity. The poems will be analysed in relation to the socio-culturally conflictive character of Cuban history and society. It will be argued that in ‘Balada de los dos abuelos’ (Ballad of the Two Grandfathers), Guillén’s desire for a unified Cuba does occasionally lead him to gloss over black and white conflicts. However, the notion that the poem successfully evokes harmony between Cuba’s white and black populations is problematized through an analysis of ‘El apellido’ (The Surname), a poem whose speaker denounces acculturative pressures exerted upon him and his African ancestors.

Miguel Arnedo-Gómez is a Senior Lecturer in the Spanish and Latin American Studies Programme in the School of Languages and Cultures (SLC). His research focuses on the representation of race and ethnicity and the literary incorporation of African or indigenous cultural elements.

International Translation Day Lecture - by Dr Marco Sonzogni

Date: 30 September 2015

Time: 5.00 pm

 International Translation Day poster

Time: 5.00 pm
Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade
Title: “Venerable Pitcher”: Seamus Heaney as Translator
2015 Jerome Lecture in Translation Studies
Hosted by the New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation and the School of Languages and Cultures


Free public screening of 'Rome, Open City'

Date: 22 September 2015

Time: 7.00 pm

Venue: City Gallery Wellington

Victoria University of Wellington's Film, History and Italian Programmes, with the support of City Gallery Wellington and the Embassy of Italy, invite you to a screening of Roberto Rossellini's neorealist masterpiece Rome, Open City, on the occasion of the seventieth anniversary of its first release. This event is part of Victoria's '1945-2015: Legacies of Loss and Liberation Seminar Series'.

Otto Preminger said that the history of cinema is divided into two eras: one before and one after Rome, Open City. At once raw and polished, classical and revolutionary, conservative and progressive, universal and firmly rooted in its time and place, Rome, Open City is both the paradigm of Italian Neorealism and perhaps the least 'neorealist' of its works. Shot while the war still raged, and set in 1944 during the Nazi occupation of Rome, the film chronicles the life of Pina (Anna Magnani) and the ordinary Romans of her working class tenement in their struggle for survival and resistance. Constantly beset by tragedy, they are unmistakably suffused with the hopes and urgency of the Liberation. Rossellini's work remains today a unique depiction of an occupied city: a film charged with an uncompromising yet deep-seated empathy that has ensured its enduring global legacy.

To reflect on the film's legacy seventy years after the end of World War Two, the screening will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A, featuring New Zealand filmmaker Stuart McKenzie, and Victoria University's Claudia Bernardi (Italian), Thierry Jutel and Alfio Leotta (Film), and Giacomo Lichtner (History).

The event is free and open to the public, but spaces are limited.

Contact:, or phone 04 463 6756.

Talk by Emeritus Professor Hansgerd Delbrück

Date: 25 March 2015

Time: 7.30 pm

Venue: MYLT 101, Murphy Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: "42 (and more) assassination attempts on Hitler"

Emeritus Professor Hansgerd Delbrück taught German at Victoria University of Wellington from 1982 until 2006. Previously, he taught at the University of Tübingen, where he also received his PhD.

In his talk on "42 (and more) assassination attempts on Hitler" Professor Delbrück will address three questions: Why did all these attempts fail? What motivated the would-be assassins? And what were the arguments of German resistance fighters who stopped short of assassination attempts? The talk will include an account of the only assassination attempt on Hitler made by a woman, and also revisit Churchill's response to the German resistance movement.

Refreshments provided.

Organised by the Goethe Society in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut New Zealand.

Goethe Society Wellington Inc.

Roundtable Discussion 'Uia mai me he tangata tēnei: a colloquium on Primo Levi’s Shemà'

Date: 28 January 2015

Time: 4.00 pm

Venue: Wood Seminar Room, Room 406, Old Kirk Building, Kelburn Campus

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the History and Italian Programmes invite you to a roundtable discussion with Professor Robert Gordon (University of Cambridge) on Primo Levi’s poem Shemà, best known as the epigraph to Levi’s memoir, If this is a man (Se questo è un uomo). An interdisciplinary panel will analyse the legacy of Levi’s poem, and present new English and Te Reo Māori translations curated by Marco Sonzogni and illustrated by Sarah Laing.

Professor Robert Gordon is Serena Professor of Italian at the University of Cambridge. He has published on a range of aspects of the cultural history of modern Italy and on the cultural memory of the Holocaust. His books include Pasolini: Forms of Subjectivity (1996), Bicycle Thieves (2008) and Culture, Censorship and the State in 20th-century Italy (ed. 2002). He has written extensively on the work of Primo Levi (Primo Levi's Ordinary Virtues, 2001) and on the legacy of the Holocaust in Italy (The Holocaust in Italian Culture, 2012).

For further details please contact Giacomo Lichtner,


Back to top ^

Exhibitions and Performances

VUW French Society theatre production - Je t'aime François

Date: Thursday 25 August and Friday 26 August at 6pm, or Sunday 28August at 3pm.

Time: 6.00 pm

French Play 2016

The world is ending in two hours, what do you do? In this original play - Je t'aime François - a group of friends struggle against such a dilemma.

Written by the wonderful Aurore d'Honte and co-directed with Justine Bouchard, this Wellington based production brings together local and international talent to present to you, an utterly hilarious critique on some very serious topics.

Proudly presented by the VUW French Society.

Je t'aime François will be staged at Newtown Community Centre (Corner of Colombo and Rintoul Street, Newtown, Wellington).

Thursday 25 August at 6pm

Friday 26 August at 6pm

Sunday 28 August at 3pm

Play will be in French, with English subtitles. Koha entry.

Check out more details on eventfinda:

Jewels of Kyoto - Lecture and Demonstration by Japanese Maiko

Date: 5 March 2016

Time: 1.45 pm

Venue: Memorial Theatre, Student Union Building

New Zealand’s First Ever Maiko Event

Maiko Performance

Who are Maiko? Maiko are apprentice Geisha, traditional Japanese female artists who have done rigorous training and are accomplished in the Japanese arts, such as tea ceremony, flower arranging and dancing.

A truly rare experience, meet the most enchanting and also mysterious treasures of Kyoto and witness the secret traditions of Japan.

This is the first time ever to have Maiko from Kyoto in Japan touring New Zealand. In this event, two Maiko will introduce their culture and life and perform traditional dances as well as a mini lesson of the language spoken in their city, which was once the capital of ancient dynasties.

Kyoto is known as the historical former capital of Japan with over a thousand years history. In Kyoto, there are currently about 180 Geiko (the terms used to refer to Geisha in Kyoto) and 70 Maiko. Maiko are the girls who are training to become Geiko. Their day-to-day training is extremely tough, but they strive to reach their dream of becoming professional. They are a truly valuable legacy of the Japanese culture.

The event is free but bookings are essential. Due to the popularity of this event, RSVP entry will be mandatory from 1.45pm to 2.15pm. If there is space on the day, stand by entry will be available from 2.15pm.

RSVP to: The Embassy of Japan in New Zealand

Telephone: 04-495-7807


Presented together with the Japanese Embassy in Wellington, the Japan Foundation, the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) and the School of Languages and Cultures, Victoria University of Wellington.

Back to top ^

Public Lectures

Public Lecture by Professor John Foot (University of Bristol)

Date: 8 July 2016

Time: 12.00 pm

Venue: Hugh Mackenzie Lecture Theatre 001 (HMLT001)

Title: Meetings, Meetings, Meetings.  Voices from the patients, doctors and nurses during the movement for psychiatric reform in Italy in the 1960s and 1970s

In the 1960s and 1970s a radical movement of psychiatrists, nurses, patients and others began to reform the asylum system from the inside and the outside. Part of the strategy involved with this movement was the use of voices, meetings and life stories. General assembles were held inside hospitals – run by patients – where they spoke, debated and discussed everything from the price of beer to the very meaning of mental illness itself. Endless debates took place with psychiatrists and students. And there was also an attempt to rediscover the life stories of patients, through interviews, oral history and diaries. This led to a number of publications and other cultural outputs – including documentaries. This paper (a work in progress) will look at this strategy from a historical point of view, connecting it to an entirely new way of understanding mental health and to the rediscovery of subjectivity – which also connected that movement to that of 1968 itself and to feminism.

John Foot is Professor of Modern Italian History at the University of Bristol. In 2011 he was awarded a Wellcome Trust grant to carry out research into the history and memory of the radical psychiatry movement in Italy which eventually closed down the asylums. This work had a particular focus on the life and times of the psychiatrist Franco Basaglia (1924-1980). It was published in Italian and in English: La «Repubblica dei matti». Franco Basaglia e la psichiatria radicale in Italia, 1961-1978 (Feltrinelli, 2014); The Man Who Closed the Asylums: Franco Basaglia and the Revolution in Mental Health Care (Verso, 2015). His books include Calcio. A History of Italian Football (2007), Italy’s Divided Memory (2009), Modern Italy (2nd edition, 2014) and Pedalare. Pedalare. A History of Italian Cycling (2011). He is now working on a new, popular history of post-war Italy. He writes for the Guardian and reviews books for the TLS and History Today.

Professor Foot’s seminar is the keynote lecture of the two-day conference, Italies, Visible and Invisible, hosted by the History and Italian Programmes of Victoria University of Wellington.

Contact: Dr Sally Hill ( or Dr Giacomo Lichtner (

Inaugural Lecture - Professor Sarah Leggott

Date: 28 June 2016

Time: 6.00 pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre KK LT 301, New Kirk Building, Kelburn Parade, Kelburn Campus

The Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University of Wellington, Professor Grant Guilford, invites you to a public lecture by Professor of Spanish Sarah Leggott.

More than forty years after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, the history and memories of the Spanish Civil War and Franco dictatorship remain a social and political battleground in Spain. The silencing of past repression continues to cause controversy and has led to prominent campaigns to bring these stories into the public domain and to exhume hundreds of mass graves throughout the country. As part of this so-called memory boom, numerous works of fiction have been written that reflect this renewed interest in Spain’s national past.

Professor Leggott will discuss recent novels by Spanish women writers that represent women’s experiences during the years of the Spanish Civil War and Franco dictatorship.

Email with 'Leggott' in the subject line, or phone 04-463 6700 before Friday 24 June.

Inaugural lectures are very popular. RSVP as spaces are limited.

For more information contact:

Learning languages has made my career in business

Date: 29 February 2016

Time: 12.00 pm

Venue: Two sessions: EALT206 at 12–12.50pm and LBLT118 at 2.10–3pm

In this talk, Monique Surges will discuss the role that languages have played in her own career, the importance of languages for New Zealand business people generally, and the advantages of learning languages for a new generation of aspiring entrepreneurs.

Monique Surges

As Chief Executive Officer of the New Zealand German Business Association Incorporated (NZGBA), Monique Surges manages a team of German staff and is responsible for a membership of over 200 NZ-based companies trading with Germany. A further 5000 clients come to the NZGBA on a regular basis for assistance in doing business with Germany, including advice on the international trade fairs held there. Monique became the official German Trade Representative in 2001. In this capacity she has initiated several important German business delegations to New Zealand, most recently in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. In May 2015, Monique was voted onto the Supervisory Board of BayWa AG, a EUR 16 billion global company based in Munich that acquired a 73% ownership of T & G Global (formerly Turners & Growers NZ Ltd)

Please note that Monique Surges will take two sessions on Monday 29 February 2016 at the following times and it the following rooms which are all on the Kelburn Campus.

EA (Easterfield) LT206 at 12noon – 12.50pm and LB (Laby) LT118 at 2.10pm–3pm

Contact: Dr Richard Millington, SLC (, 04 463 5976).

Art Advocacy Translation: Collapsing the Divide: Chinese-English Translation, Transliteration, and Interlanguage

Date: 24 November 2015

Time: 4.00 pm

Where: 606 von Zedlitz, Kelburn Parade

Art Advocacy Translation In this lecture Professor Stalling will move through a series of Chinese-English experiments which push the boundaries of what we conceive as "the possible" in inter-linguistic communication: English words transformed into Classical Chinese poetry, Chinese characters rewritten as libretto in English. His most recent innovation is an entirely new way of teaching English through a patented learning platform (SinoEnglish) that combines classical Chinese phonetics with algorithmic and 3D technologies to create a Chinese orthography for English with grater fidelity than the Romanised scripts. In Stalling's work, writing systems are no longer walls between languages-they are bridges.

Art Advocacy Translation: Chinese Literature Abroad: Translation, Publication, Distribution, and Documentation

Date: 23 November 2015

Time: 5.30 pm

Where: National Library, corner Molesworth and Aitken Streets

Art Advocacy Translation

In this lecture Professor Jonathan Stalling will discuss his work as a founder of the international literary magazine Chinese Literature Today leading up to the establishment of the Chinese Literature Translation Archive at the University of Oklahoma.

As an "experimentalist" Stalling has engineered each project to test various hypothesis for distributing literature in translation. Dr. Stalling will report on his successes as well as challenge that include market pressures, legal issues and academic/institutional hurdles.





Professor von Zedlitz—from esteemed teacher to outcast - Talk by Dr Margaret Sutherland (German Programme)

Date: 25 July 2015

Time: 11.00 am

Venue: Old Government Buildings, Lecture Theatre LT3

Title: Professor von Zedlitz—from esteemed teacher to outcast

(This talk about one of Victoria University’s founding professors is part of the capital’s 150th birthday celebrations)

von Zedlitz paintingTaking up his position as Victoria’s first professor of modern languages in 1901, von Zedlitz had a distinguished career until the outbreak of WW1, when the Alien Enemy Teachers Act 1915 was passed specifically to remove him from his post. His story illustrates the manner in which political and historical circumstances can impinge on the private sphere.

As part of this talk, Helen Fawthorpe will talk briefly about the history of the Goethe Society, its links with the German Programme at Victoria University and the Society’s current activities.

In conjunction with the public talk an exhibition titled 'Ever wondered how languages connect the world?' will be held in Old Government Building, ground-floor seminar room G07.German Poster

At this exhibtion you will be able to discover the fascinating stories of Victoria University students, Wellington artists, diplomatic representatives and professionals who ventured into the heart of Europe and find out more about exchange opportunities, events and projects engaging young people, families and communities with German language and culture.

There will be a range of short movies and many activities for families – including a giant Germany jigsaw puzzle (pictured right).

Public Talk br Dr Limin Bai

Date: 23 July 2015

Time: 5.30 pm

Venue: National Library, cnr of Aitken and Molesworth Sts, Wellington

Title: Reappraising Modernity after the Great War: An influential Chinese scholar’s disillusionment and re-evaluation of the Westafter visiting the Peace Conference at Versailles

Limin Bai National LibraryIn the wake of the Great War Chinese intellectuals such as Liang Qichao (1873-1929) began to rethink their previous perception of the West, of modernity and of China’s future. Along with other influential scholars of the time, Liang travelled to Paris to support the Chinese delegation at the Paris Peace Conference held at the Palace of Versailles. His work, A Record of My Travel Impressions in Europe, provides readers with an image of a broken Europe after the Great War, which was a stark contrast to the modern and superior civilization he previously conceived and hoped for China. In his re-evaluation of the West and China’s future, Liang contemplated many topics including science, materialism, religion and cultural values.

Dr Limin Bai is a Senior Lecturer in the Chinese Programme in the School of Languages and Cultures at Victoria University of Wellington. Her interests are Chinese history, society and culture, with particular interests in intelligentsia in late imperial China, and its influence on and contributions to education and culture.
Please RSVP to with Limin Bai in the Subject line.

Inaugural lecture—Professor Yiyan Wang

Date: 17 March 2015

Time: 6.00 pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre KKLT301, Level 3, Kirk Building, Kelburn Campus

Fiction in modern China: modernity through storytelling

Inaugural lecture Yiyan Wang largeProfessor Wang's presentation traces the evolution of Chinese fiction since the late nineteenth century against the background of the historical, social and cultural changes taking place in China during that time. She demonstrates how fiction in modern China has become a medium for advocating ideals of modernity and an integral part of China's modernisation process. Professor Wang argues that the arrival of Chinese modernity marked the use of storytelling to express political ideas, community histories and individual trajectories as well as the legitimisation of fiction as popular entertainment.

Read more about Professor Yiyan Wang.

Refreshments will be served following the lecture.

RSVP by Monday 16 March. Phone 04-463 6700 or email with 'Wang' in the subject line.

Inaugural lectures are very popular. RSVP as spaces are limited.


Back to top ^


Research Seminar Series - Dr Richard Millington (German Programme)

Date: 6 October 2016

Time: 4.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: Georg Trakl’s Ghosts: Haunted Poems at the End of History

Alongside his precursors Friedrich Hölderlin and Arthur Rimbaud, the Austrian lyric poet Georg Trakl  (1887-1914) has been described as a “poet of post-history” (Böschenstein 1978). In Trakl’s rich but often enigmatic poems, the perspective is imagined at or near the end-point of the arc of history, from where the speaker observes signs of advancing natural and cultural decay in the world around him. The historical vision sketched in Trakl’s work can be usefully compared to the notion of cultures as living organisms that are born, grow, mature and die put forward by his contemporary Oswald Spengler in The Decline of the West (1918). One characteristic of the historical end stage in which the poems are set is the encroachment of the supernatural sphere upon the natural, as the erosion of established orders loosens boundaries between past and present, life and death, real and spectral. A clear development can be detected in Trakl’s treatment of the supernatural theme over the brief span of his poetic output. The earlier poems (pre-1913) typically have naturalistic settings whose familiarity and stability is progressively undermined by ghostly apparitions. In the poems of his last two years, the supernatural element becomes more pervasive, as normally invisible historical and mythical relations become manifest spatially and climactic events from the speaker’s life history and cultural tradition are re-enacted in abject, ghostly form. In this talk, the development and combination of the historical and supernatural themes in Trakl’s work will be illustrated through discussion of specific poems.

Dr Richard Millington is a Senior Lecturer in the German Programme. His interests in German-language poetry and the literature of late-Habsburg Austria intersect in the figure of Georg Trakl, about whose work he is currently writing a book.

Research Seminar Series - Dr Emerald King (Japanese Programme)

Date: 15 September 2016

Time: 12.10 pm

Title: Last Christmas I gave you my heart: Body parts as love tokens in Japanese literature

Ihara Saikaku’s 17th century account of The Life of an Amorous Man (Koshoku ichidai no otoko, c1680. Trans Hamada 1963) ends with the aging demimonde and his closest cronies sailing into the sunset to a mythical island of (presumably, willing and wanton) women. The vessel they set out in is constructed from the love tokens the hero has received over his long career as a connoisseur of women of the Edo and Kyoto pleasure quarters – the sails are made from silken undergarments and the ropes are braided from the “thick strands of hair” that he had received as “pledges of undying love.”

While receiving enough hair to outfit an entire vessels’ worth of rigging and lines is an obvious poetic overstatement, Saikaku’s work is famed for his accounts of the daily life of lower or merchant class Japanese. Given this, it is not unreasonable to extrapolate that Oiran, Geisha and other women of the pleasure quarters would give parts of their hair, nails and skin (in the form of tattooing and branding the name of a lover) to their patrons and favoured clients. This practice of giving body parts as love tokens is by no means something that is limited to Japanese literature of the 1600s. Most famously is the (non-fictional) case of Abe Sada who cut off her lover’s penis and kept is a love token after he died of autoerotic asphyxiation in 1936.

This paper will concentrate on the exchange of teeth, bones, blood and skin in Japanese women’s writing with particular emphasis on the work of Kono Taeko (1926-2015), Kurahashi Yumiko (1935-2005) and Kanehara Hitomi (b. 1983). Rather than mere symbols of sexual conquest, as in Saikaku’s work, the teeth, bones, blood and skin exchanged in the work of Japanese women writers are transformed into powerful talismans and symbols of love and life.

Emerald KingDr. Emerald L King is the head of Japanese at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. She studied in both Australia and Japan before receiving her PhD from the University of Tasmania in 2012. Emerald’s research interests include violence in text; masochistic theory and kimono in Japanese literature. She has published articles on cosplay and manga including “Girls Who Are Boys Who Like Girls to be Boys…”  (2013) and was asked to guest lecture on cosplay and costume in Australasia by Yokohama University (Japan) in January 2015. She has a book chapter on the Gothic in children's literature and an article on cosplay as translation both due out 2016/2017.

Research Seminar Series - Eleonora Bello (PhD Candidate in Italian)

Date: 8 September 2016

Time: 12.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: Italian writers and mental hospitals

The criticism of mental institutions is a relatively recent aspect of the long-standing relationship between madness and Italian literature in all its genres. In the last 50 years, the literary discourse on “diagnosed” mental illness in Italy has focused in particular on the relationship between places, narrators and text functions, in specialist and non-specialist texts, ranging from fiction to nonfiction. Contemporary literary works from a variety of genres have contributed to the creation of what I call the “collective unconscious of the asylum” in Italian culture, taking on the public debate on mental illness, structuring and defining it according to the selected genre’s specific style and form. With this presentation, I aim at developing this premise, taking into account some passages drawn from the texts selected for my thesis, in which the space of the asylum plays a crucial function in the definition of the relationship between narrators and their writing. The stylistic strategies that these works have employed to build an image of the asylum and other mental institutions are as complex and multifaceted as the one traditionally proposed by official, specialist works of psychiatry, and can function as a medium of memory for a contemporary readership.

Eleonora BelloEleonora is a PhD candidate in Italian Studies at Victoria University of Wellington (NZ), where she is also a tutor for Italian classes at undergraduate level. The main topic of her research deals with the fictional representation and criticism of psychiatric institutions in contemporary Italian writings.

After completing a first level Master PROMOITALS (Teaching Italian as a second/foreign language) at the Università degli Studi di Milano (Italy), she obtained an MA in Italian Literature at Université de Franche-Comté (Besançon, France). Prior to coming to New Zealand she spent three years teaching Italian in Milan, Mexico and France. She also enjoys translating poetry in her spare time: she is currently working on a selection of Janet Frame’s poems translations with fellow PhD student Francesca Benocci

Research Seminar Series - Wenwen Liu (PhD Candidate in Chinese)

Date: 18 August 2016

Time: 12.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: Understanding the Success of Wu Guanzhong in Post-Mao China

Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) is a Chinese artist who was trained in oil painting yet became world-famous for his ink painting. Also he is an artist who pioneered the modernist reform on art creation and education after the Cultural Revolution, yet at the same time claimed the progressiveness of Chinese literati painting. There are a number of studies on Wu’s artistic achievement. However, none of them provides sufficient evidence on why this particular artist, not others, succeeded and became an art world phenomenon in the 1980s. In this presentation, I attempt to analyse the reasons from two viewpoints.

First, I investigate the aesthetic puzzlement Wu created for audiences and critics through his ink painting innovations. By demonstrating the apparent similarity of Wu’s ink work The Lion Grove Garden (1983) with Jackson Pollock’s abstract-expressionist work, I argue that Wu managed to convince the viewers of his “modernist” orientation without being a fully committed modernist. Second, I analyse Wu’s engagement with art theory in 1980s and how it impacted his reputation and the reception of his work in post-Mao China. I will focus on one of Wu’s influential essays published in a core periodical Meishu 美术 (Arts) in 1980 – “Guanyu chouxiang mei” 关于抽象美 (on abstract aesthetics). Wu’s treatise on abstract aesthetics is marred by illogicality and not well argued. However, some of the discursive leaps he made, e.g. from the western-borrowed term chouxiang 抽象 (abstract) to certain abstract elements embodied in Chinese art, and were only possible because of the lack of logic. Wu’s readers responded to this great leap and appropriated it for the purpose of evoking their patriotism and justifying the progressiveness of Chinese art. Through this “conspiracy” between the artist and his readers, Wu was finally lionised as a Chinese art icon, who was able to conduct modernist innovation on traditional ink painting, while simultaneously inheriting the national essence of Chinese art.

Wenwen Liu - homepage Wenwen Liu is a PhD candidate in Chinese. She used to work for art magazines in Beijing for three years. Her occupation allowed her to be closely engaged in the field of contemporary Chinese art. Currently Wenwen is interested in researching the cultural dynamics inside Chinese official art institutions, especially in the post-Mao era.

Research Seminar Series - Dr Marco Sonzogni (Italian Programme)

Date: 28 July 2016

Time: 12.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: ‘Perch’ or: The Spirit Level of Writing and Translating

The Irish Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) was concerned with the ‘posture’ of the writer: toward himself, toward writing, and toward the world. He addressed it, and redressed it, throughout his life and work. In this creative conversation I will follow Heaney’s development as a poet like leafing through an illuminated bestiary. In particular, I will zoom in on the poem ‘Perch’ (Electric Light, 2001: 4) as exemplary of Heaney’s ‘stance’—and, I would argue, of his translator’s—“in the everything flows and steady go of the world” (v.10).                                              

Marco SonzogniDr Marco Sonzogni is an academic and a writer. His research and teaching revolve around the scholarly, creative, and pedagogical dimensions of writing and translating.

Research Seminar Series - Dr Sally Hill (Italian Programme)

Date: 14 July 2016

Time: 4.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: Screening Normality: A History of Representations of Disability in Italian Film

Until the late 1970s and beyond, many people with disabilities in Italy lived in appalling conditions, out of sight and out of mind. Despite this absence from public life, disability has been widely represented in Italian culture – particularly in film – and exploited for its metaphorical power. Taking as a starting point Paul Darke’s theorisation of the “normality genre” and Sharon L. Snyder and David T. Mitchell’s formulation of “narrative prosthesis,” this presentation charts the changing nature of that metaphor as Italy has wrestled with its many transformations since the end of World War II. It demonstrates that the history of representation of disability in Italian film is a history of shifting definitions of and anxieties about ‘normality’ in relation to historical memory and national identity, social class, gender roles, sexuality and the institution of the family. Examining a range of Italian films, it argues that disability on film screens these anxieties in both senses of the term: simultaneously displaying and masking.

Sally HillDr Sally Hill is a Senior Lecturer in Italian and Head of the School of Languages and Cultures. Her work focuses on intersections among twentieth-century Italian literature, cinema and visual culture, with a particular interest in photography and film. With Giuliana Minghelli, she co-edited Stillness in Motion: Italy, Photography, and the Meanings of Modernity (University of Toronto Press, 2014) and she is currently working on representations of disability in Italian cinema.

Research Seminar Series - Assoc Prof Stephen Epstein (Asian Studies Programme)

Date: 26 May 2016

Time: 4.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: Sympathetically, Gravely? North Korean Spies in Recent South Korean Cinema

In the last 15 years, South Korea has experienced significant changes in popular discourse about the North. A decade of the “Sunshine Policy” under progressive presidents, which allowed previously unimaginable depictions of North Korea and North Koreans to emerge, has yielded to successive conservative governments and a noteworthy downturn in relations; prospects for reunification remain dim. A striking recent trend in South Korean cinema has been the spate of films that feature North Korean spies as protagonists, such as Uihyeongje (Secret Reunion; 2010), Gancheop (The Spies; 2012), Bereullin (The Berlin File; 2013), Dongchangsaeng (Commitment; 2013) and Eunmilhage, Widaehage (Secretly, Greatly; 2013).

Secretly Greatly

In this paper I will argue that although the national imaginary continues to wish for the possibility of identification with Northerners as individuals, in part as a result of the thawing made possible by the Sunshine Policy, consciousness of the North as threat has made a clear return. Taken together, these films represent a more nuanced view of the North-South relationship that draws on the greater knowledge made possible by increased contact and expresses an ambivalent assessment of the potential for rapprochement. The free play of fantasy allowed by film makes manifest a deep-rooted schizophrenia in South Korean attitudes towards North Korea as tropes of plotting and characterization foster a decomposition of those from the DPRK into "Good North Koreans" and "Bad North Koreans." I will also consider the extent to which these films explore questions of citizenship and belonging in an increasingly multicultural South Korea.

Associate Professor Stephen Epstein is the Director of Victoria’s Asian Studies Programme and served as the 2013-14 President of the New Zealand Asian Studies Society. He has published widely on contemporary Korean society, literature and popular culture and translated numerous pieces of Korean and Indonesian fiction, including the novels Who Ate Up All The Shinga? by Park Wan-suh (Columbia University Press, 2009), The Long Road by Kim In-suk (MerwinAsia, 2010) and Telegram by Putu Wijaya (Lontar Foundation, 2011). He also has co-produced two documentaries on the Korean indie music scene, Our Nation: A Korean Punk Rock Community (2002) and Us & Them: Korean Indie Rock in a K-pop World (2014). He recently completed The Korean Wave: A Sourcebook (Academy of Korean Studies Press, 2016) with Yun-mi Hwang.

Research Seminar Series - Janette Briggs (PhD Candidate in Chinese)

Date: 12 May 2016

Time: 12.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Topic: ‘New wine in old bottles’: Lao She’s experiment with tradition in his wartime epic poem Jian bei pian

Jian bei pian was the unfinished record of Lao She’s journey through northern China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Although his literary output covered several genres, Lao She’s reputation largely rests on his ‘modern’ fiction and drama. Jian bei pian, his largest poem and his only long poem published while he lived, was very different in style, subject matter and theme from his other work. Yet after its 1942 publication it received relatively little attention from critics in China and has been almost completely ignored in the West.

Lao She described Jian bei pian, composed in a folk ballad form traditionally used for oral storytelling,as ‘an experiment aimed at producing a harmonious blend of old and new’. In this presentation I will explore the poem’s new and old components, discussing the extent to which Jian bei pian could be seen as part of Lao She’s wartime ‘experimentalism’, using Lao She’s comments about the poem to explain why he undertook this ‘experiment’, and showing the challenges he faced from tensions between old and new.

Janette Briggs graduated from Canterbury University in 1972 with an MA in Sociology to follow a career in social research and statistical analysis. After a 2004 trip to China she began studying Chinese language at Victoria University, a path that now sees her in the final stages of her PhD thesis on Lao She’s poem Jian bei pian.

Research Seminar Series - Prof Yiyan Wang (Chinese Programme)

Date: 21 April 2016

Time: 12.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Topic: "Exhibitions and Ramifications: Chinese Intellectual Debate over Art in Meizhan (Fine Art Periodical) in 1929"

Yiyan Wang

In this presentation I will introduce three Chinese art exhibitions that took place in Shanghai in 1929, in Paris in 1933 and in London in 1935 respectively. The focus, however, is the publications in a periodical called Meizhan, fine art exhibition, that accompanied China’s first national art exhibition in Shanghai in 1929. My primary aim is to critically assess the intellectual discourse on China’s art modernisation in the early 20th century as reflected in the articles published in the periodical. Through the case studies of the three exhibitions, I will also demonstrate how art exhibitions entered China first as a mechanism to stimulate the practice of modern art; how they showcased the achievements of contemporary artists; and how, very soon, they became important tools of cultural diplomacy.

Overall, I intend to make two arguments: a. Art exhibitions was one of the institutional art practices China borrowed from Europe and put to very effective use in facilitating modernisation of art; b. the three state-funded exhibitions entailed that the Chinese authorities at the time considered modernisation of art an important aspect in China’s nation building.

Yiyan Wang is Professor of Chinese in the School of Languages and Cultures at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research interests include modern Chinese literature and culture, studies of Chinese diaspora and modern Chinese intellectual history.

Research Seminar Series - Dr Limin Bai (Chinese Programme)

Date: 7 April 2016

Time: 12.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: An East-West Interaction through Literacy Education - the New Method of Teaching and Learning Chinese in Early Twentieth-Century China

The New Method of teaching and learning Chinese refers to a progressive teaching-learning process, in contrast to the traditional Chinese rote learning. The method was introduced into China from the West at the end of the nineteenth century and became popular during the late Qing campaign for literacy education. A close textual examination of selected literacy textbooks of the time is used to investigate how Protestant missionary educators, native Chinese Christian and non-Christian teachers incorporated this new pedagogy in their teaching and textbook composition. It aims to demonstrate a mutual understanding of what comprised “useful knowledge” and the method for knowledge transmission through literacy education among missionary educators (including native Chinese Christian teachers) and non-Christian Chinese reformers and educators. Through this East-West intellectual interaction the relevance of Christian education to the building of a modern China is also discussed.

Limin Bai SeminarDr Limin Bai is a Senior Lecturer in the Chinese Programme. Her primary field of research is Chinese intellectual history and education from the late seventeenth century to early twentieth century. She is the author of Shaping the Ideal Child (2005) and Meeting the Challenges: Chinese Students’ Experience in New Zealand (2008).

Reseach Seminar Series - Assoc Prof Jean Anderson (French Programme)

Date: 17 March 2016

Time: 4.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: Madamoiselle Marple Crosses the Channel

Neither Agatha Christie nor her 1927 creation Miss Jane Marple needs much of an introduction: we know to look past the old-maid façade to appreciate the character's deductive powers; we grasp the dialectical tension between the idea of spinsterishness (equated with unworldliness) and detective ability based on a shrewd understanding of human nature. Another essential characteristic of Miss Marple is her Englishness: again, Christie exploits the contrast between the prim and proper bastion of village life and the desperate deeds she unravels.

Crossing the Channel, I will explore unmarried female investigators in French representations. Maurice-Bernard Endrèbe's spinsterish detective (she is in fact a widow), Elvire Prentice, aka la vieille dame sans merci, appeared in a series of 11 novels published between 1944 and 1977. In Jean-Pierre Ferrière’s les sœurs Bodin series, Blanche and Berthe take centre stage in seven novels published between 1957 and 1961: they are clearly marketed as spinster caricatures. Charles Exbrayat’s Imogène MacCarthery series consists of seven novels published between 1959 and 1975.

French crime fiction features far fewer female detectives than are found in the Anglo-American tradition: those cited here were clearly popular enough to merit serial publication, but are little studied today. Instead, there is a strong focus on the hard-boiled American influence. Was there no room in the French tradition of a very male-dominated genre for a straight-talking and astute female investigator? Are the caricatural aspects of the few women protagonists essential to the morphing of Miss Marple into a French market, and if so, why might this be?.

Jean Anderson is Associate Professor of French and a practising literary translator. Her publications include critical studies of 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century French women's writing, contemporary crime fiction and television series, and francophone poetry and prose (Belgium, Tahiti and Mauritius). Following co-edited volumes (with Drs Carolina Miranda and Barbara Pezzotti) on crime and the foreign (Bloomsbury, 2012) and seriality in crime fiction (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), they are currently co-editing a third book of essays, this time dealing with crime and food.

Research Seminar Series - Dr Limin Bai (Chinese Programme)

Date: 17 September 2015

Time: 4.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, Level 6, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: Historical Memory, Education and Nationalism: A Comparative Study of Narrations of the 1895 Sino-Japanese War in Japanese and Chinese Textbooks (1897 – 1907)

The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 was one of the key events in the history of both Japan and China. Through a textual examination of the accounts of the war in Japanese and Chinese textbooks in the decade following the war (1897-1907), this study aims to demonstrate how the memory of the war was exploited as an educational instrument to stimulate a spirit of nationalism in both countries.

The Chinese history textbooks selected for this study were all published in Shanghai between 1903-1907, when the Qing government was forced to implement reform measures, which led to the birth of a modern Chinese school system based on the Japanese model. Two Meiji Japanese readers, Jinjō shōgaku tokuhon 尋常小學読本 (Japanese Reader for Regular Elementary School) (1903) and Shinpen teikoku tokuhon 新編帝国読本 (New Reader of the Empire) (1897) are chosen for the comparison which shows that while both Japanese and Chinese textbooks all included a narration of the war and the sea battles, the accounts differed as they were not intended for historical truth but for ideological purposes. Meiji Japanese textbooks were employed as a tool to convey official ideology and to build nationalism; and the triumph of the war was used to further enhance patriotism and loyalty to the emperor and the empire.

In comparison, the Chinese accounts centered on China’s humiliation and the weakness of the Qing Empire in contrast to the prosperity of Meiji Japan. Chinese narrators used China’s defeat as fuel to address China’s crisis and to push for political reforms. Therefore, the Chinese accounts of the war were integrated into the themes promoting a Chinese version of social Darwinism for the survival of China, Chinese race and Chinese culture.

Limin BaiDr Limin Bai is Senior lecturer in Chinese Studies, School of Languages and Cultures, Victoria University of Wellington. She has published extensively on Chinese history, society and education in both English and Chinese, spanning the late imperial period to contemporary China. She is the author of Shaping the Ideal Child (2005) and Meeting the Challenges: Chinese Students’ Experience in New Zealand (2008).

Research Seminar Series - Dr Luo Hui (Chinese Programme)

Date: 6 August 2015

Time: 12.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: Toward a 'Chinese cinema' in New Zealand: soft power, agency, and cinema across borders (Or how to navigate the NZIFF to enjoy a good Chinese film, or two)

Chinese cinema, perhaps more than any other national cinema, is subject to the most divided, even polarised, representation as it travels across national and ideological boundaries. Much of this fragmented picture has to do with the bipartite structure of the Chinese film industry — a government sanctioned ‘mainstream’ cinema and an 'underground' cinema that operates largely outside of, if not in opposition to, the state system. To complicate matters further, there is a considerable grey area between the mainstream and the underground where a film could swing either way, depending on the whims of Chinese censors or luck at an international film festival.

What vision of Chinese cinema does the New Zealand International Film Festival project? And how fractured is this 'Chinese cinema' as it hits New Zealand screens? This paper examines Chinese film programming at the 2015 NZIFF (New Zealand International Film Festival) to tease out the cultural politics behind it, and to reflect on the broader issues of soft power, national identity and transnational flow of cultural capital.     

Luo HuiDr Luo Hui specialises in contextualising and interpreting Chinese literary and visual texts, with particular focus on transmission and reception. He is currently Chinese programme director, co-director of the New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation, and arts advisor for the Confucius Institute at Victoria University.

Research Seminar Series - Jon Preston (PhD Candidate in Spanish and Latin American Studies

Date: 16 July 2015

Time: 4.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title:  Dissidence through a Vision of the Vanquished and the Banished: The Mapurbe Poetry of David Aniñir

This seminar focuses on the poetry of David Aniñir, an urban Mapuche from the suburbs of the capital of Chile, Santiago. Aniñir’s work revolves around the juxtaposition of his indigenous heritage and his urban upbringing and lifestyle, and serves to challenge a number of dominant discourses about the position of Mapuche in contemporary Chile. Two key aspects of Aniñir’s poetry are discussed in this seminar: the various layers of dissidence which permeate his work, and the presentation of a new urban Mapuche identity combining Mapuche and non-Mapuche traditions and cultural forms. In contrast to the existing literature, it is argued that Aniñir’s denunciatory nature demonstrates not only his ethnic identification with Mapuche, but also a broader class awareness in Chile and beyond. Moreover, the analysis presented in this seminar contends that Aniñir’s urban Mapuche identity seeks to add value to traditional Mapuche culture, rather than contaminating or desecrating it, as others have argued.

Jon PrestonJon Preston is a PhD candidate in Spanish and Latin American Studies in the School of Languages and Cultures. His research interests centre on Chilean culture, history and politics from the mid-20th century onwards. His thesis analyses three different cultural forms which can be considered to be dissident in contemporary Chilean society: the urban Mapuche poetry of David Aniñir; sites of memory commemorating the victims of repression during Pinochet’s dictatorship; and the autobiographical books and documentaries of Carmen Castillo, a left-wing exile.

Research Seminar Series - Prof Yiyan Wang (Chinese Programme)

Date: 4 June 2015

Time: 4.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: The Cultural Forms of the Everyday: Domestic Modernity in the Short Stories of Ling Shuhua (1900-1990)

This paper discusses three of Ling Shuhua’s short stories with a focus on the family home where the housewife was a “girl student” with a modern/Western education. Known as the Chinese Katherine Mansfield, many of Ling Shuhua’s short stories depict domestic lives of educated women in Chinese metropolises in the early 20th Century.

This paper delineates Ling Shuhua’s fictional domestic space against the Chinese intellectual discourse on modernity with an understanding of the significance of the everyday informed by Lefebvre, Highmore and others. Through demonstrating how modernity has been imagined and practised in the daily life at its private and intimate levels instigated by the educated housewife, I seek to highlight the transformative role of women at home. I present two arguments: a. domestic modernity is a significant aspect of Chinese social modernity; b. the cultural forms of domestic modernity created and/or practised by women exert great transforming power fundamental to social and cultural change.

Yiyan WangYiyan Wang is Professor of Chinese at the School of Languages and Cultures at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research interests include modern Chinese literature and culture, studies of Chinese diaspora and modern Chinese intellectual history.  

Research Seminar Series - Dave Evans (PhD Candidate in Spanish and Latin American Studies)

Date: 21 May 2015

Time: 12.10 am

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: Mexican Film of the 1940s and Revolutionary Worldviews: Pedro Infante and the Cinematic Representation of Modern Mexican Masculinity

This seminar focuses on the figure of popular Mexican actor Pedro Infante and the images of masculinity that his films projected. The treatment of male identity in the films of Infante is full of contradictory tensions that stem in part from the societal process of adaptation to modernity in the decades following the Mexican Revolution. This analysis of Infante and his films, while building on existing research into Infante’s connection to Mexican modernity, offers a new approach by tying several of his films together (including his famous Nosotros los pobres trilogy from the mid-1940s) to show a progression from rural to urban masculinity to which audiences could relate. It argues that the movement in Infante’s characters, which mirrors that of Infante himself, serves as an example for how tough men could successfully transition their traditional masculinity to fit into post-Revolutionary society.

Dave Evans is a PhD Candidate in Spanish and Latin American Studies within the School of Languages and Cultures. His research interests include popular culture, representation in media, and classic cinema. More specifically, his thesis centres on the Mexican Golden Age of Cinema (1935-1955) and these films’ connections to modernity.

Research Seminar Series - Dr Carolina Miranda (Spanish and Latin American Studies Programme

Date: 7 May 2015

Time: 12.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: An (un)suitable job for a woman…?: Ruth Epelbaum, María Inés Krimer’s Kosher PI

The focus of this seminar is Argentinean María Inés Krimer, who is associated with a new wave of crime authors coming to the fore in the 2000s, one which has changed the locus of crime writing by relocating it exclusively to Argentinean soil. Krimer’s novels problematize the social, political and cultural anxieties of a modern Buenos Aires seen through the eyes of a Jewish woman private detective, Ruth Epelbaum. As one for hire, Epelbaum’s inquisitive eye proves suitable for the job as it exposes all types of crime endemic to the big city, from corruption and scandal within the Jewish community, to a more sophisticated and complex type of organised crime involving high-ranking politicians and public personalities.


carolina.mirandaCarolina Miranda lectures at Victoria University, Wellington. Her research interests include translation and twentieth-century Latin American literature. A board member of The Australian Journal of Crime Fiction, she has published a monograph on Roberto Arlt’s theatre and narrative work, and various pieces on Argentine, Spanish and New Zealand crime fiction. Together with Jean Anderson and Barbara Pezzotti, they co-edited The Foreign in International Crime Fiction: Transcultural Representations (Continuum 2012), and Serial Crime Fiction: Dying for More (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming, August 2015).

Research Seminar Series - Alessandro Macilenti (PhD Candidate in Italian)

Date: 23 April 2015

Time: 12.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: Uncanny black gods: Sirene's hyperobjects

Laura Pugno's Sirene (2007) is a deeply metaphorical novel heavily influenced by mangas, including Rumiko Takahashi's Mermaid Saga (2003) and Satoshi Kon's Kaikisen (2006). In Pugno's words, Sirene is a "research novel" whose function is to create estrangement in the reader. This process of estrangement, Pugno adds, allows the writer to pose deep questions about our society without becoming didascalic. More specifically, Sirene is a dystopic science fiction novel that highlights the dangers of grasping at anthropocentric beliefs. Human behaviour has yet to catch up with the biological and ecological implications of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection from a common ancestor, which places the human species besides (and not above) every other living being in evolutionary terms. But although our era is still dominated by anthropocentrism, blissful anthropocentrism is a thing of the past as humans realise that sentience is not exclusive to them.

In Sirene, Pugno presents a world where the Sun bathes the Earth in deadly mutagenic radiation: as uncanny mermaids emerge from the ocean, humans must abandon the dry land and retreat underwater. What does the encounter of these two species tell us about ourselves and about the other forces that inhabit the Anthropocene? In this seminar, I use Timothy Morton's "hyperobjects" framework to highlight how Sirene approaches the themes of hybridisation, interdependence of life and, more importantly, illustrates a new humanistic teleology of guardianship.


Alessandro Macilenti - small.jpgAlessandro Macilenti is a graduate student in Italian at the School of Languages and Cultures, about to complete his PhD under Dr Sally Hill's supervision. He is interested in determining how literary language can convey urgency to the environmentalist narrative and can increase awareness of environmental degradation among readers. More specifically, he analyses twenty-first century literary works depicting ecologically degraded places to expose the literary mechanisms that authors employ to challenge the reader’s awareness.

2015 Research Seminar Series - Dr Catherine Churchman (Asian Studies Programme)

Date: 2 April 2015

Time: 12.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Title: "Bronze Drums and Tadpoles - Celebrated and not-so-celebrated legacies of Guangdong's non-Sinitic past"

1500 years ago the Chinese presence in the area we now know as Guangdong was limited to cities along the coast and main river systems. Outside these cities the local populace mainly consisted of people speaking non-Sinitic languages (mainly Tai languages), who in Chinese texts went by a variety of names such as Li, Lao, and Man. Fast forward to 1800 and we have populations of “Yao” and “Lang” and “Dong” living in rural areas in western Guangdong, but by 1900 they had disappeared completely; one county that counted over sixty Yao settlements in 1800 had only twenty Yao living there by 1980, and these were migrants from other parts of the country. Studies of genetics, linguistics, toponyms and textual analysis all indicate very strongly that the present day Cantonese are the descendants of many of these disappeared peoples, buit that that their way of life became so similar to that of Han Chinese in other regions of China that until recently they had no consciousness of being historically anything other regional variations on a larger Chinese theme.

Popular discourses on the history of the Cantonese and their origins follow two very broad trends: The most popular, and more traditional trend of discourse promotes the idea that not only are the Cantonese the authentically Chinese descendants of northern migrants, but that they also speak a more authentic variety of Chinese language, pointing to influence of nomadic steppe peoples in northern Chinese history, and the belief that Tang Dynasty poetry still rhymes when read out in Cantonese (but not in Mandarin). The less popular and more novel trend refers to twentieth century scholarship on the non-Sinitic origins of the Cantonese, viewing them as Tai peoples who assimilated to Chinese culture and adopted a Sinitic language over a long period of time.

I argue that in the last thirty years there has been an increase in popularity of the latter trend together with an upsurge in interest in the pre-Sinitic peoples of southern China, their artefacts (the bronze drums) and their language (the Yue substratum in Cantonese), this is the result of a burgeoning regionalism in Guangdong which has been encouraged by both the existence of a large community of Cantonese speakers beyond the control of a central Chinese government as well as by the reappraisal of non-Mandarin Chinese languages and southern Chinese history in Taiwan. These have given new significance to the pre-Sinitic history of Southern China in heterodox (and sometimes secessionist) expressions of regional identity.


Catherine ChurchmanDr Catherine Churchman studied Chinese and Dutch Studies as an undergraduate in New Zealand and Taiwan before receiving her doctorate in Asian History from the Australian National University in 2012. Catherine’s research interests include the history of the Lingnan region of southern China and Mainland Southeast Asia in the first millennium CE, Chinese contact creole languages of Southeast Asia (in particular Malaysian Hokkien), Southern Chinese local identities both within China and amongst the Chinese diaspora, Vietnamese and Tai literature written in Nôm (Chinese-based demotic script), Sino-Vietnamese literature, and the role of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the Korean War.

Seminar - (Hetero)Sexism and Racism in European Commercials

Date: 23 March 2015

Time: 4.10 pm

Venue: Room 606, von Zedlitz Building, Kelburn Parade

Dr Laura Corradi is an Italian sociologist of the body and the author of more than 90 publications on women's health at work, breast cancer activism, gender health and environment.

In this seminar, she will present the results of a postcolonial and intersectional feminist research project about social representations of women’s bodies in European advertisements. She will offer a semiotic analysis of hetero-normative, sexist, racist, ageist commercial images and messages.

Dr Corradi was awarded her PhD by the University of California at Santa Cruz and currently holds a tenured position Università della Calabria, Southern Italy, as a researcher and professor of Gender Studies and Intersectional Methodology. She is currently Visiting Professor at the University of Sydney.

FHSS Learning and Teaching Seminar Series: Nicola Gilmour

Date: 6 October 2014

Time: 12.15 pm

Venue: Murphy LT220

Dr Nicola Gilmour, Spanish Programme, SLC, will present a seminar on "How and why I use my imaginary friends in my teaching".

FHSS Learning and Teaching Seminar Series: Stephen Epstein

Date: 19 May 2014

Time: 12.15 pm

Venue: HU LT220

Associate Professor Stephen Epstein, Asian Studies Programme, will present a seminar on "How and why I use You Tube and Facebook in Teaching".

School of Languages and Cultures and the Confucius Institute Seminar - Dr Richard J. Meyer (Guest Lecturer)

Date: 27 February 2014

Time: 3.30 pm

Venue: von Zedlitz Building, Room 606, Kelburn Parade

Title: "Wang Renmei and Shanghai Cinema of the 1930's"

Wang Renmei was on a fast track to become one of China's leading film stars in the 1930s. Her early films were received with magnificent praise by audiences and critics alike, though she later lamented that she became famous too early and never had a chance to properly study acting.

Wang's personal struggles reflected the turbulent period from the end of the Qing dynasty to the rise of Deng Xiaoping. Meyer explores Wang's artistic achievements amid the prevalent anti-feminist and feudal society in China prior to the founding of the People's Republic in 1949 – attitudes which contributed to the downturn of Wang's promising career and forced her to accept various bit parts.

In addition, personal problems as well as the Anti-Rightist Movement and the Cultural Revolution led to her hospitalisation for mental illness. Wang's life is emblematic of the experiences of many left-wing and Communist Party members from the Shanghai film community who were viewed with suspicion by Mao and later the Gang of Four.

Dr Meyer will present the film Wild Rose after his talk.  The motion picture established Wang Renmei as one of the leading film stars in China.

Richard J. Meyer teaches film at Seattle University. In 2012 and 2013, he was Visiting Scholar at the New Zealand Film Archive. Dr Meyer is Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Professor of Telecommunications Emeritus at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and Visiting Professor at the Center for Journalism and Media Studies at the University of Hong Kong. Presently Dr Meyer is President Emeritus of The San Francisco Silent Film Festival and a member of the Board of Directors of the Seattle International Film Festival. He produces and introduces restored silent films accompanied by music at various "Live Cinema" presentations.

Refreshments will be provided by The Confucius Institute.

Back to top ^


Reimagining In Flanders Fields

Date: 8–17 April 2015

Time: 11.30 am

Venue: RB007 and RB006


Black and white image with red poppies in a field

"Reimagining In Flanders Fields" is a set of creative translation workshops for Victoria students, focusing on John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Fields, led by postgraduate students and staff from the School of Languages and Cultures.

Workshops will run from 11:30am to 12:30pm on the 8th, 9th, 10th, 13th, 14th, 16th, and 17th of April in Rankine Brown 006 and 007. They are run on a drop-in basis and participants do not need to book in advance.

"Reimagining In Flanders Fields" will be followed by "The World's Longest Zine-fest."

This event is part of the Entrenchments 2015 project.


Back to top ^