[Literature in Australia and New Zealand]

Topics in Cultural Studies: Australian Film and History (EN5222)

Semester II, 2000/2001

Lecturer: Associate Professor Arthur Lindley, Department of English Language and Literature, National University of Singapore

Aims and Objectives

An undeerstanding of Australian films as historical and cultural as well as esthetic artifacts.


None, but some previous module(s) in film studies would be very helpful.


English Dept. Video Rm 2; 6 p.m. to whenever

12.101: introduction: Australian film history; national cinema and national identity

19.1: Picnic at Hanging Rock: Europeans and the land

26.1: My Brilliant Career: women's isues

2.2: Gallipoli: masculinity and the formation of national identity

[9.2: no meeting; lecturer on conf. lv.]

16.2: Mad Max II: masculinity and the deconstruction of national identity

23.2: one-week break

2.3; The Last Wave: European-Aboriginal relations

9.3: Crocodile Dundee: heroes, larrikins and Aborigines

16.3: Strictly Ballroom: immigrant experiences/pop culture

23.3: Muriel's Wedding: marginality and pop culture

30.3: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: gays and straights

6.4: Conclusion(s); Australian cinema and Singaporean.


This module deals with the development of the Australian national cinema, paying particular attention to the period from its revival in the 1970s to the present. Aside from charting its growth -- from classic heritage films like Picnic at Hanging Rock and My Brilliant Career to such contemporary successes as Shine, Muriel's Wedding, Strictly Ballroom and Romeo and Juliet -- into one of the most productive and respected of the world's smaller film industries, we will be looking at three major areas of concern: (1) the role of film in promoting and inscribing versions of national history and identity; (2) the troubled relation of Australian film to the British and American film industries; and (3) the peculiar economic and demographic conditions which affect the nature of the industry in Australia. We will also be considering the complex involvement of government in the development of Australian cinema. All of these topics have important implications for the developing national cinemas of countries like Singapore. Primarily, however, we will be looking at a series of exciting and challenging films in their historical and social context.

Practical Work

Students are expected to do one oral presentation (20 minutes, no written copy required) on one of the films in the course + a term paper (ca. 10 pages, typed and double-spaced) on some aspect of the general topic of Australian cinema and national identity.


2-hour final examination: 60%
Term paper: 30%
Oral presentation + participation in seminar: 10%

Text and References

There are no required textbooks for this module.

Primary films are listed on the schedule. Other films of interestinclude Holy Smoke (Jane Campion, 1999), Shine (Scott Hicks, 1996), William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (Bazz Luhrmann, 1996), Babe (George Miller, 1996), The Piano (Campion, 1993), A Cry in the Dark (Fred Schepisi, 1988), The Man from Snowy River (Geo. Miller, 1982), The Year of Living Dangerously (Peter Weir, 1982), Walkabout (Nicholas Roeg, 1971).

Useful introductions to the subject include Tom O'Regan, Australian National Cinema (1996); Scott Murray, Australian Film, 1978-1994 (1995), which is lavishly illustrated; and Ina Bertrand, Brian McFarlane and others, The Oxford Companion to Australian Film (1999), which is in the NUS Library Reserve Books/Readings Collection.

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Last Modified: 8 February 2002