RCMC Guest lecture by James David Findlay: “Representations of Australia’s Convict Settlers in Film & Television”

Guest lecture by James David Finlay (Sydney) on Friday,  April 04, 2014, 3pm at Universität Hamburg, Phil 1273, Von-Melle-Park 6: “Penal Colony: Representations of Australia’s Convict Settlers in Film & Television”

Abstract von James David Findlay:
My research is concerned with the impact of film and television on the construction of historical myth and legend in national culture. Since the pioneering days of Australian cinema, filmmakers have re-imagined and celebrated the lives of men and women transported as convicts to the colonies. This study will traverse these representations, tracking their thematic development, exploring how the experiences of Australia’s convict settlers have been represented through the pre-eminent narrative modes of the twentieth century (namely film and television). By historically contextualizing these depictions alongside the changing cultural, social, political and academic discourses surrounding convict histories the study aims to reveal how cinematic renderings of Australia’s settlement narrative have profoundly shaped popular understandings of Australia’s colonial past.

How does my research relate to Germany?

The international component to my research explores a collection of globally produced films that reveal how convict histories transform when transplanted via cinema outside of the national sphere. The research will explore how these representations have informed
international audiences about the nature of Australian society past and present, how these films work to strengthen or undermine imagined national identities and investigate what happens when transnational perspectives are viewed by Australian audiences. Focus will also be given to the globalization of film production and financing practices with the emergence of international co-productions between Australia and overseas partners, particularly when fictionalizing convict histories, which by their nature tell an international story. One of the major works I am investigating is Douglas Sirk’s Zu neuen Ufern (1937), produced by UFA. The film is unique for focusing on women convicts sent to the Parramatta female factory in Sydney, an important episode of convict history rarely explored in Australian films.

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