|NEWSLETTER NO. 31 SPRING 2005|
|THE EDWARD A. CLARK CENTER FOR AUSTRALIAN
& NEW ZEALAND STUDIES
|THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN|
UT-Austin faculty affiliates of the Center will make presentations to the Seminar members on a range of topics: Australia's geography and environment (Prof. Robin Doughty); Australian Literature and Film (Prof. Don Graham); Australia's multicultural and immigration setting (Prof. Gary Freeman); Australia's constitutional and legal systems (Prof. Rhonda Evans Case); Australia's history and current political scene and its relations to the U.S. (Prof. John Higley); living and researching in Australia (Prof. Jane Maxwell).
Mark Darby, Director of the Fulbright Commission in Canberra, and one of the Commission's staff members, Joanna Monaghan, will be in Austin to greet the Seminar participants and then travel with them to Sydney. The Center will hold its orientation in UT-Austin's famous Humanities Research Center, which will provide Seminar members with opportunities to inspect some of the many literary and artistic treasures at the University. And the Center will hold a welcoming orientation dinner at the equally famous Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on the members' first evening in Austin.
Prof. Jason Pierce, now on the faculty of the University of Dayton, was elected president of ANZSANA, replacing the outgoing president, Richard Teare, who has directed the Georgetown Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies. Prof. Rhonda Evans Case, who will from September be a visiting faculty member of McKenna College at California's Claremont Colleges, will serve as ANZSANA's vice-president. Jason Pierce, whose wife Emily just gave birth to a son, wrote an extended dissertation on Australia's High Court, and Rhonda Evans Case wrote her dissertation on the construction of anti-discrimination legal regimes in Australia and New Zealand. Both scholars have regularly presented papers at ANZSANA meetings during the past several years, and their election to the Association's top positions for the next two years will provide it with energetic young scholarly leadership. Other board members include Francine McKenzie (Western Ontario), Kim Nossal (Queen's University), the directors of the two Australia/New Zealand Centers – John Higley and Alan Tidwell, Frances Cushing (University of Texas) secretary-treasurer, and Dick Teare, past president of ANZSANA.
A record number of participants, who presented 34 papers on Australian, New Zealand and relevant American and Canadian topics, gathered at Harvard on the last weekend in April for this year's ANZSANA meeting. For the first time, ANZSANA's meeting took place concurrently with that of the American Association for Australian Literary Studies (AAALS), which was also well attended. Altogether, more than 100 scholars working on antipodean and salient North American issues were at Harvard for the two conferences. They were held in adjacent rooms with a common evening reception, joint coffee breaks and lunches, and a common conference dinner at which Dennis Altman, from La Trobe University and this year's holder of the Harvard Chair in Australian Studies, was an entertaining speaker.
As they have done so often in the past, Hal Bolitho, who chairs Harvard's Committee on Australian Studies, and his able co-organizer, Janet Hatch, provided the two associations with lavish hospitality. As a venue for the two meetings, the Harvard Faculty Club was perfect, and if the showery weather was typical for springtime Cambridge, the blooming flowers and trees in all their finery more than compensated for the sprinkles.
Sentiment was widespread among participants in both meetings that holding concurrent gatherings makes a lot of sense. The boundary between literature on the one side and social science and history on the other has kept the two associations too separate for too many years. But it was repeatedly breached at Harvard, to the intellectual benefit of all. At the associations' respective business meetings, each agreed that meeting jointly again in April 2006, most probably in Montreal, is desirable. Meeting in Montreal would be the first time AAALS has met in Canada, whereas ANZSANA has held its meeting in Canada during alternate years ever since it formed ten years ago. At Harvard, Canadian scholars who work on Australian and New Zealand topics were conspicuous in both meetings, and the ANZSANA meeting was again blessed, as it has been for the past three years, by the presence of David Korth, from the Dept. of Foreign Affairs & International Trade in Ottawa. As well, New Zealand's deputy chiefs of mission at both its Washington Embassy and Ottawa High Commission attended, which was most gratifying. Among the North America-based ANZSANA participants, the one who could claim the greatest exertions in reaching Cambridge was Dr. Jason Lacharite. He began his journey from the University of Northern British Columbia, took a red-eye from Vancouver to Toronto, then to Boston, and arrived an hour before he presented his paper. A close runner-up for this dubious travel award was ANZSANA's long-time participant from Mexico City, Prof. Alfredo Romero-Castilla, who waves the Australian banner on the faculty of UNAM.
Harvard is always something of a mecca for itinerant Australian and New Zealand scholars, and this year's meetings were no exception. Fully 13 scholars based in Australia attended the ANZSANA meeting and they were accompanied by two scholars from New Zealand. (Their travels do not count in the above "greatest exertions" sweepstakes, but they could of course sweep North Americans vying for the prize off the table.)
It remains to say that the ANZSANA meeting program was superbly put together and overseen in implementation by Dick Teare and Grace Tompkins, from the Georgetown Center. Except that he will remain on the ANZSANA Board for another two years as immediate past president, this was Dick Teare's swan song. He now retires "again" after serving ANZSANA with unmatched distinction during all the years that he directed the Georgetown center following his retirement from the US Foreign Service. May Dick's second retirement be much longer than his first one, basking in the knowledge that he has done many marvelous things for North American scholarship on Australia and New Zealand.
John Higley has agreed to serve on a Council of International Education Exchange (CIEE) team of scholars who will visit Sydney, Macquarie, and Wollongong universities during early August to examine their Australian Studies programs, which annually bring significant numbers of students to Australia from American universities belonging to the CIEE. Higley will also visit the Australian National University's Research School of Social Sciences on 4-5 August.
Spring 2005 Visitors to the Clark Center
Dr. Leigh Dale, University of Queensland
Dr. Sarah Ferber, University of Queensland
Professor Dennis Haskell and Rhonda Haskell, University of Western Australia
Geoff Gray, Senior Trade Commissioner, Australian Embassy, Washington, DC
Dr.Brendon O’Connor, Griffith University
In early April, Robert Ross, who was for a dozen years associated with the Clark Center, suffered what he thought was a slight stroke. But he was instead diagnosed as having advanced and inoperable lung cancer. On May 25th, Robert died at his Dallas home in the care of his loving wife Anita.
With Robert's passing, the Clark Center has lost one of its closest friends. Robert was present at the Center's creation in 1989, serving for the next ten years as its Research Associate. In that capacity, he edited Yacker from its inception and for a score of issues. As founding president of AAALS, he organized two memorable conferences of the Association in Austin during the 1990's. From his large circle of literary friends and admirers, he brought to the Center and the University a passel of distinguished visiting scholars and writers for lectures, readings, and teaching. In short, he was the Center's resident intellectual and expert on Australian literature. He enabled the Center to show much more than a social science face to the community of scholars working on Australian affairs.
Robert was a most distinctive man. He had a tremendous sense of humor and a mordant wit. His scathing comments about American popular culture and politics were invariably delivered with a deadpan expression but permeated with outrage over the latest instance of egregious philistinism. His well-known disdain for "post-modernism" (he would have insisted on the punctuation) was proclaimed in the most hilarious of ways. In matters literary and cultural, he delighted in separating wheat from chaff and then stomping merrily on the latter.
If Robert's service to the Clark Center was invaluable, his service to AAALS was seminal. He and a handful of others founded the Association, and in 1986 Robert became the founding editor of Antipodes, a role he performed with the utmost diligence and distinction for the next fifteen years. More or less single-handedly, he made Antipodes into a premier outlet for scholarly and professional writing about Australian arts and letters.
Robert, it's fair to say, had two abiding love affairs during his adult life. The one was with Anita, his wife of many years and the one person who could regularly take the mickey out of him, delightfully, and still be around to do it again another day. His other love affair was with the novels and short stories of Thea Astley, who preceded Robert in death by half a year. Robert adored Astley's writing and tirelessly promoted her work in North America and beyond. One of his last acts was composing a loving tribute to Astley, which appears on the opening page of last December's Antipodes. Ending his tribute, Robert took the liberty of quoting himself – "a practice I have always considered unforgivably pretentious" – from something he wrote long ago when he had encapsulated Thea Astley's writing as depicting "the pure in heart seeking salvation amid a world flawed and damned." Would that I could have coined that about Robert himself, for it captures him perfectly. So many will miss him so much.
YACKER Is published in the fall & spring by The Edward A. Clark Center for Australian & New Zealand Studies,
Harry Ransom Center 3.362
The University of Texas, Austin, TX 78713-7219
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