Humanities highlighted at regional conference

Friday, 21 June 2019

50 humanities centre academics and postgraduate students from Newcastle and around the country came together to discuss strategies and developments in humanities research in the regions.

Centre for 21st Century Humanities members at the Humanities in the Region conference.

The Centre for 21st Century Humanities and the School of Humanities and Social Science hosted the Australasian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres’ (ACHRC) Humanities in the Regions symposium on 30 – 31 May at New Space.

The theme of the symposium was ‘Renewal - Regional humanities research in the 21st Century'.

The event brought together 50 humanities centre academics and postgraduate students from Newcastle and around the country to discuss strategies and developments in humanities research in the regions.

Centre member Dr Julie McIntyre organised the event with Associate Prof Nancy Cushing. She said the event was successful because presenters were generous in sharing their experience on practical aspects of research practice from collaboration through to accessing funds.

“Usually academic conferences are for testing new research with fellow experts. Often we also compete with these same experts for research opportunities. Instead, our event reached across disciplines and fields to discuss how we can best create and respond to the potential to change thinking within and beyond our regions,” Dr McIntyre said.

“As well as meeting in New Space we held sessions at Newcastle Library and Newcastle Museum. This strengthened the University of Newcastle’s ties with these important cultural institutions, showcased the city and kept our conversations lively and engaged. There was agreement that regional universities and cultural institutions have an experimental energy that is vital to the continued renewal of studies in the Humanities.”

Head of the School of Humanities and Social Science, Prof Cathy Coleborne opened the event. The first keynote address was given by Prof Ros Smith who as Acting DVC-R and former Centre director gave a speech about the important two-way relationship between centres within institutions and networks of colleagues extending globally in the humanities, detailing the rise of the Centre for 21stCentury Humanities at the University of Newcastle.

A number of other Centre members were involved in the event including Emeritus Prof Hugh Craig who spoke about Time Layered Cultural Map funded by an ARC LIEF grant, Dr Elizabeth Roberts-Pedersen who spoke about her DECRA grant, and Dr Gillian Arrighi who talked about humanities fellowships with national and international institutions. Associate Prof Bill PalmerProf Victoria Haskins and Prof Lyndall Ryan were on a panel together chaired by Dr Hedda Askland highlighting their projects that all involve new humanities methods for the 21st Century.

“This two-day forum was a great opportunity for our members and other colleagues and postgraduate students at UON to meet with humanities researchers in the regions from around Australia,” said Centre Director Professor Haskins. “It provided a vibrant forum to exchange new ideas about interdisciplinarity, e-research and industry and community engagements, not only with fellow academics but representatives from our local cultural institutions. A number of exciting new connections were forged.”

Associate Prof Anna Johnston, Deputy Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland, gave the day two keynote address and focused on Eliza Hamilton Dunlop. Dunlop lived at Mulla Villa at Wollombi in the lower Hunter Valley for a time in the nineteenth century. Delegates took a field trip to Mulla Villa on the final day of the conference.

The event also featured speakers from a range of cultural institutions including the Newcastle Museum, the Newcastle Library, and the NSW State Library, as well as from universities, including Flinders University of South Australia, the University of Queensland, and Southern Cross University.

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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.