New PhD scholarship rounds

The recruitment of talented and high quality students worldwide is one of the key strategies of Monash University. To help achieve this goal, the university has reviewed current practice and announced two significant changes with regards to graduate research student recruitment:

  • Increase from two to four graduate research scholarship rounds per year; and
  • Separation of domestic and international applicants for scholarship rounds.

This initiative led by Monash Graduate Education (MGE), will take better advantage of the recruitment windows for applicants from the northern hemisphere, and ensure competitiveness for both local and international markets. Changes will be implemented from 1 June 2017 following the closure of applications for the current scholarship round.

The table below highlights the key dates for the current round and each of the new scholarship rounds:




Applications open

Closing Date

Enrolment period





31 May 2017

1 Jul – 31 Dec 2017



1 Jun 2017

31 Aug 2017

1 Jan – 30 Jun 2018



1 Jun 2017

31 Oct 2017

1 Jan – 30 Jun 2018




1 Sep 2017

31 Mar 2018

1 Jul – 31 Dec 2018



1 Nov 2017

31 May 2018

1 Jul – 31 Dec 2018



1 Apr 2018

31 Aug 2018

1 Jan – 30 Jun 2019



1 Jun 2018

31 Oct 2018

1 Jan – 30 Jun 2019

Note that there is no change to the current Scholarship Round closing Wednesday 31 May 2017 that is open to BOTH domestic and international applicants. 

Applications for the new, separate scholarship rounds 3 and 4/2017 will open on 1 June 2017 as indicated in the table above.

Further Information

For more detail about the change to Graduate Research Scholarship Rounds, please refer to the following MGE Intranet page.


The global opportunities with Arts at Monash

Nic Davidson & Sarah Holloway, Founders of Matcha Maiden
Nic Davidson & Sarah Holloway, Founders of Matcha Maiden

Arts/Law (2012) graduate Sarah Holloway co-founded Matcha Maiden, a global e-commerce organic matcha powder supplier, and about a year ago started the physical venue Matcha Mylkbar in Melbourne, soon opening in Sydney. Sarah shares her experience making the most of Monash’s global exchange opportunities with her language studies and how this advantaged her in both her law career and current business.

She says, ‘languages have really propelled my career and personal life. I can’t even describe the tangible benefits. It helps you in everything you do.’ She shares tips about the world’s ‘blue zones’, the benefits of matcha, and on advice for future students:

‘I always say that if you’ve got a remote interest in being global and not just local, travelling, or even mind-opening, then Monash is the best place to be.’

For the full interview, listen to our podcast:

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Monash research positions available

Three Graduate Research positions are now open in the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies. Please note applicants who already hold a PhD will not be considered.

2017 Monash Master of Arts Scholarship in Philosophy

Application deadline: Friday 28 April 2017

A Master of Arts candidate is being sought in the topic of women and freedom in the history of philosophy, or a related topic in philosophy more generally. The student’s research will be connected to a larger project, ‘Women on Liberty:  From the Early Modern Period to the Enlightenment (1650-1800)’, funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant (project no. DP140100109). Supervisor: Associate Professor Jacqueline Broad, Philosophy, School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies, Monash University.

Read the full candidate requirements, remuneration and application details.


Monash PhD Position in Philosophy

Application deadline: Friday 12 May 2017

A PhD candidate is being sought in Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science. The successful candidate will be part of a 3 year interdisciplinary research project on mind wandering and spontaneous thought in wakefulness and sleep. Supervisor: Dr Jennifer Windt, Lecturer, School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies

Read the full candidate requirements, remuneration and application details.


2018 Monash PhD Position in Philosophy of Mind/Cognitive Science

Application deadline: Monday 31 July 2017

A PhD candidate is being sought in Philosophy of Mind/Cognitive Science in association with the Australian Research Council Project “Measuring the Mind: A Framework for Building a Consciousness Meter.” Supervisor: Dr Tim Bayne, Professor, School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies

Read the full candidate requirements, remuneration and application details.


Calvin Fung’s winning short story and research

Calvin Fung
Calvin Fung

Calvin won the Monash University entry for his short story, ‘The Beggar and the Glimpse’, in the Monash Undergraduate Prize for Creative Writing, an annual prize open to any undergraduate student in Australia and New Zealand, now in its fifth year (the 2017 prize is now open closing 12 April). Award-winners are announced at the Emerging Writers’ Festival each year and their work published in Verge, a journal produced by Monash Arts Creative Writing students.

Calvin’s work centres on a story about a young man in Hong Kong dealing with the umbrella protests that happened in 2016. On the Emerging Writers’ Festival website, ‘The Beggar and the Glimpse’ features the judge’s comments:

“successfully addressing the moral tug-of-war between political action and traditional family values, taking recent political history as the subject matter. The immediacy of the story and the depiction of unfolding events were compelling. Good writing in an unconventional (non-Anglo) idiom.”

Originally from Hong Kong, we spoke to Calvin about his move to Monash, his short story as well as his plans for the future, which include centering gothic literature and Hong Kong as a setting in his PhD.

How did you come to be at Monash?

When I was 16 I went to the Chinese University in Hong Kong (CUHK) to study. After two years I came to Monash on exchange and I decided that Monash was much more suitable for me and so I transferred. I did a Literary Studies major but I also did creative writing units with Professor Chandani Lokuge – I did her introduction to creative writing and her advanced fiction writing. I feel like she taught me how to write! And I did my Honours year in Literary Studies at Monash and my thesis topic was ‘Writing the Self in the Gothic Autobiography’.

What did your Honours thesis explore?

Since secondary school, I’d wanted to study Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. And so I studied the way in which the narrative is transmitted in the text as well as in my favourite novel, James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner.  I looked at how life-writing and autobiographical elements in these two texts allow us to uncover more about the self and desire.

This exploration of self and desire seems linked to the entry you won an award for in the international Undergraduate Awards last year. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

I was studying a bit of digital narratology, like in video games. And for one of the research workshops in Honours, I studied sexual and gender identities in video games. I’m getting this work published in a journal, and it was a version of this that I submitted and received an Undergraduate Award for.

Interesting. Are you continuing an exploration of these identities in your PhD in creative writing?

Yes! That’s what I’m doing right now. I’m really interested in 19th or 20th century literature. I really love gothic literature. I think it destabilises a lot of binaries. I have a particular interest in critical theories as well.

I also want to experiment with narrative as well, and play with how the story is told. I’m influenced by Jeanette Winterson’s ‘Written on the body’; her mode of narration was very inspiring. In Winterson’s novel, you never really know if the narrator is male or female whereas typically we find that’s a given in a story, that you know the gender of the protagonist. Very basically, we like to know what ‘sex’ he or she or they are, but she deprives us of that and I think that’s quite new and that’s something I want to play around with. And, also, I want to explore psychological disassociation as well. In gothic work, like in Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories, we have the unreliable narrator, and that’s something I want to play around with as well.

So I’m going to write a gothic novel set in Hong Kong. I really want to return home with my writing. I wanted to do an Asian/Hong Kong gothic work. There’s not much of that already and is an area worth developing. I would say mainly I want the work to be about identity, especially identities that are often suppressed in Hong Kong – marginalised communities.

Hong Kong, photo courtesy Calvin Fung
Hong Kong, photo courtesy Calvin Fung

‘The Beggar and the Glimpse’ gives us a glimpse of that return home with your writing. Can you share with us a bit about that?

The story was based on what happened in Hong Kong in 2016. Basically, during Chinese New Year in 2016 there were riots in HK and it was very violent. I thought I was looking at something from a war region but kept realising it was from my home. I was really emotionally affected and I wanted to express something. So I decided to write this story. I wrote it really quickly compared to my other short stories, like in 1 or 2 weeks.

This story is very different from my normal style. Usually, I like to write romance fiction, especially romance that doesn’t deal with normative relationships, but this is the first time I’ve attempted political fiction. It’s a new region to me.

It seems to tackle different issues between the generations in Hong Kong that were brought up during the umbrella protests there last year. Can you tell us a bit more about this?

I definitely wanted to explore the generation gap, as we have a stereotypical notion that the older generation is more conservative and I guess you can see this in Brexit, where the newer generation want to branch out. We have that in Hong Kong as well – people who are pro-establishment and anti-establishment.

After all these protests and outbreaks of students trying to fight for their freedoms or young people trying to fight for their futures, the older generation feels like we’re trying to usurp their authority in some way. You can have many different interpretations of this but what I wanted to explore was a new sense of distrust. People could no longer trust each other.

Mistrust seems to be a cornerstone in this short story, linked to the story’s title and ending, where a boy giving money to a beggar glimpses at an older couple then is charged with a confrontation of mistrust from them. Why was this so important to convey?

I thought was important was that the older couple couldn’t trust the younger boy, even though the younger boy didn’t do anything at all. And I feel like years ago, this moment in the story might not have happened. When you see someone giving money or being charitable it’s read as an admirable trait but now there’s that distrust. I think it’s significant because when you look at someone doing something and you already have this interpretation or predetermined notion of them because of all of the politics going on, we can no longer believe in the good in people any more.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong

The colour red comes up a lot as well, can you share with us what that means?

Red in Chinese culture is important for many reasons. For one, red is used to scare off monsters in mythical legends. So red is an important colour but in a different society, red is blood, it’s bloodshed, it’s violence, it’s love, it’s a very strong and passionate colour. So mixing traditional values with the depiction of violence we get red because it’s blood and it’s Chinese New Year at the same time. I wanted to incorporate that.

What about your ideas behind weaving in food and Cantonese, the language of Hong Kong?

I think this is another part where I tried to experiment with the story. I showed this short story to some of my relatives who understand Cantonese. They look at these words and they understand, but to a different audience they might see it and feel distant from what I’m trying to say because of these foreign words in italics. So what I wanted to do was instill a sort of curiosity so that maybe they would investigate further into the politics of Hong Kong – which I really hope people will do.

Read ‘The Beggar and the Glimpse’, available in Verge 2016.

Submit an entry to Verge 2017 (closes 9 April).

Submit an entry to the 2017 Monash Undergraduate Creative Writing Prize (closes 12 April).

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2018 Walter Mangold Language Scholarships


A sociological study of patients’ use of digital media


Culture to go? Symposium explores creative and cultural industries futures

Debates around the creative industries, and the ‘creative cities’ and ‘creative classes’ associated with these, have now been raging for two decades. The celebratory rhetoric associated with their early expressions have been met by empirically informed critical research.

This has pointed to the economic reductionism and over-inflated expectations brought by this policy agenda; the realities and inequities of creative labour; the growing exclusion of creative producers and suburban consumers from the urban core; and the general erosion of any value for culture other than its contribution to jobs and growth.

Yet this critical work often forgets, or disavows, the optimistic – even utopian – impulses which gave rise to the great expectations placed on the cultural and creative industries from the 1970s onwards. Our take-downs can often forget the possibilities still (we hope) inherent in the idea of culture, and the crucial importance of thinking about the ways in which it is produced and consumed.

In a world that has recently taken a turn to the political dark side but which contains immense capacities to be transformed into something human, where do we stand in relation to the question of cultural economy?

This symposium brings together leading Australian and overseas researchers and thinkers in this field. They will outline how they see the contemporary stakes in various aspects of the cultural economy. They will cast a critical eye to the future and look at where we might go in the next decade if given a chance.

Some of this might be utopian and speculative, but perhaps out of this will come a chance to seize the initiative and develop a new program for culture, not just digging trenches for the coming onslaught against it.

Interested in attending this symposium?

Cultural Economy Futures: A Symposium
DATE: 11 April, Tuesday
TIME: 09:00 am – 6:00 pm
LOCATION: Level 7, 271 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

Download symposium flyer (PDF)


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Part II: Raising the political stakes with Jeanne d’Arc and Dr Ali Alizadeh

I think truth is something we, artists and scientists alike, are all interested in in different ways. My novel might propose a truth about what it means to be a revolutionary subject, and a scientist might propose a truth about the cause of global warming. So we’re interested in truths in different ways. And I think there’s a lot more we have in common than not.

This interview is a continuation of Part I: Raising the political stakes with Jeanne d’Arc and Dr Ali Alizadeh where we explore Dr Alizadeh’s decades-long research into the controversial life and death of Jeanne d’Arc, depicted in a comprehensive new literary work by Dr Ali Alizadeh titled The Last Days of Jeanne D’Arc due out this year. We discuss political writing, the phenomena and ideology of real revolution, the question of war, and the revolutionary potential of Jeanne d’Arc in contemporary discourse, politics and concepts of universalism.

The search for truths… as someone who’s always wanted to be a writer, I’m curious if there was a book that got you started?

I loved reading adventure stories, I loved Zorro. He was my favourite comic book hero. I had a couple of books about him that I remember reading a lot, obsessively. My grandmother used to read a lot to me as well, when she babysat me. I’m pretty sure the influence of that is still with me. And interestingly, I guess, war and history and politics also affected me a lot, because I grew up in Iran during the revolution and I felt that even as a child what I was reading had to be somehow connected to the world I was living in. 

At least one or two generations of people in the Western world now have not experienced an actual war or a revolution. This is not a criticism but there seems to be a de-politicisation amongst readers and writers in the West, where people at best can only talk about this idea of identity politics. But for people like me politics is a very real thing, and I experienced that from a really early age as a very young child. That’s why I guess I was drawn to Zorro, he’s a political figure as well. 

Joan of Arc statue in the French Quarter in New Orleans, USA.
Joan of Arc statue in the French Quarter in New Orleans, USA.

It’s kind of interesting when you look at the origins of action heroes and comic book heroes in US popular culture – they’re also political. Today we have Superman and Batman and they seem to be battling each other for no reason other than their egos, but once-upon-a-time there were political stakes. And stories with real political implications were the stories my grandmother used to tell me and I think they really influenced me. 

Later on in life, in my late teens when I thought I would become a writer, I was reading a lot of the things other kids were reading at the time like avant-garde poetry, things that were a bit underground, and I still like them, but I think to me it’s been quite important as I’ve developed to make a connection between my formative experiences as a writer, the formative things that I was reading – things like Zorro! – and what I’m writing now. 

I think that’s why I’m going back to history and things like that, history, politics, revolutionary writing, which is at odds with contemporary Australian writing scene. Most of my peers in Australia would not be producing that kind of writing at all but I’m returning to my origins in a way.

This de-politicisation you mention, do you think writers can afford to stay away from politics given the current political climate?

That’s a good question. In Australia, I would say the Indigenous rights movement has gone mainstream, environmental concerns have gone mainstream, general views about race, gender, they are totally mainstream – what would have been activism in the 90s is now what I call mainstream moralism. In the 90s, you would have been a radical if you talked about being queer or about immigrant rights or reclaiming the streets. Today, these are the values of our bourgeois ruling class. 

So that means more writers are writing about those things. It is very common now to find some kind of environmental concern, or some sort of sympathy for refugees or whatever in a novel by a best-selling novelist published by a major commercial house, much more so than before.

But I would say what’s happened is that what we are seeing is not a political move but more of an ethical or a moral move.

I think political writing proper is still very rare in Australia. And that’s writing that I think really aims to make the reader, or make the artform, instigate some kind of a change in the politics of the world. Not just in the way we live, not just by getting people to be more ethical about recycling their rubbish or whatever, I mean, not just that, but actually writing that is directly about politics. 

And I have a definition of politics: politics really is about the relationship between the people and how they are governed. That’s a very classic definition of politics. I know we use ‘politics’ as with the word ‘revolution’ very loosely and freely these days – there can be a ‘food revolution’, ‘IT revolution’, ‘fashion revolution’. But I don’t. There really have only been a few actual revolutions in history and revolution is a real historical phenomena where a government is changed and the ruling classes toppled –  that’s a revolution, and politics to me is something associated with that as well. 

The word politics to me has its own integrity so that’s why I really rail against the idea of identity politics for example. I don’t think identity has anything to do with politics. When it does it’s dangerous, and turns into sectarian politics which produces fascism. But I think when we talk about immigrant rights, minority rights or whatever we are not engaging with a political question. I think concerns like that constitute an ethical or moral question. So, today, despite the ethical tone on environment, refugees, etc, I still don’t think Australian writers are engaging with politics the way I define it.

How do you see Australian writers tackling politics then?

I’ve done a lot of research into contemporary poetry and I think you do see a few Australian writers that tackle politics. Like, for example, the poet Lionel Fogarty, who’s viewed by some scholars and others to be a sort of representative of an Indigenous identity, and I’m sure it is a very legitimate way to look at his work, but when I read his work I also find a real questioning of dominant Australian ideology. And I think that sort of relationship with ideology is what some genuinely political art does. 

By ideology I mean the dominant values of the society because we say in Marxism that there is a relationship between the dominant values and the dominant class. So if today, for example, we decide that we should all of us drive less because it’s better for the environment, and if this becomes such a dominant value, and I would argue it has, then I’m sure somebody’s making money from it, and I’m sure they are the most powerful class in society who are making money from it. So you know this is where some of us Marxists end up being labelled as conservative by so-called progressives because we question dominant ideology. We say look at any given point in time / dominant ideology, no matter how progressive it might look, is serving the economic, material interests of the ruling class. 

So I think when writers attack ideology, then that’s where we can get some real political action.

Not in the work of writers who happily endorse progressive values of the ruling class but writers who say, no, there is hypocrisy for example, in the way you champion minorities. And then they go bravely to places where sometimes they shouldn’t go. And if you’re a writer like me, before you know it you get accused of racism just because you question the concepts of charity and sympathy, for example, in your writings. Publishers are so jittery about that sort of thing. They’re not sure how readers might interpret them. 

But I think from time to time you get writers, for example Christos Tsiolkas, who’s now a sort of establishment figure in Australian literature. Looking at some of his early writing, novels like Dead Europe and Jesus Man, he was really railing against the dominant values of the ruling middle-classes in Australian society and he was, if you like, trying to be offensive, intentionally. Being offensive is one way to do the kind of thing I’m talking about, and could be immature, and sometimes it is just immature. There are moments when some writers are prepared to do things that may not be good for their careers, that may make them unpopular, but they write this sort of thing anyway. But if the story of Christos Tsiolkas is anything to go by, we can see that if a writer wants to really make a living as a writer he or she has to make a U-turn, and of course in Tsiolkas’s more recent writing that’s what we see, and his fans are celebrating his new ethical tone, the fact that he’s not just railing against society but he’s offering solutions. What are these solutions? I don’t know. But in The Slap, the solution was I guess, to suggest that people should just learn to get along, don’t destroy things, preserve them. 

It’s a real problem of our time, especially for our writers, and I have many private conversations with writers and a lot of them tell me that they will not write against dominant ‘progressive’ ideology, because they know they will not be published if they do that, or they will be misunderstood, or they will not get a grant – there are real economic concerns here. If a book is considered too controversial and the message in it is not easily palatable for a progressive literati – and in Australia the literary culture is by and large ‘progressive’ – then the literary scene will not support that author. But you do occasionally get people like me. I was chastised for my last book. I was almost publicly humiliated for doing the sort of writing that I’m encouraging, and I was called all sorts of horrible things. Ultimately, I thought, that’s fine. We need to be able to speak out against dominant values, and I think we should be able to do that in literature, and also at universities. I fear that there are cultural trends that are trying to prevent that.

For those interested in research, what advice do you have for them?

The main thing I can say about doing HDR at Monash or anywhere else is that you need commitment and passion. Because I’ve seen too many very bright students given advice on what is ‘good to research’, and not going very far because they haven’t developed their own interest. One of the best things I was told recently was to start a project that I would do even if my project got no funding, something that I would do anyway even if I got no money or recognition for it.

When I did my PhD I knew I wanted to end up writing a book on Jeanne d’Arc, so it helped that my PhD was also a part of that project, otherwise I would not have been able to complete it. Many things happened along the way, financial pressures, social pressures, and I think that to survive those pressures and to do really well, you need to find something that has real personal resonance, something that you want to be remembered for. Avoid the trendy topical ‘research priority’ of the week – far too many bright minds have been sacrificed in on the altars of short-term academic careerism. 

Finally, what are your last words on Jeanne d’Arc and what do you hope readers will get out of your forthcoming novel?

Her story has been told many times, but I think I’ve told it in a new way, in a way that may scandalise some readers, but I hope it does justice to her story because I think it’s an amazing story.

I think the thing that I hope people would get out of the book is, firstly, the realisation that truly radical subjectivities like hers are possible. I want people to be reminded that someone as revolutionary as Jeanne really did exist.

We live in an age where we think change is impossible. Or that the most rudimentary reforms is the best we can hope for. There’s nothing we can do, we feel totally impotent, or maybe we can, you know, drink fair trade coffee and change the world by doing that. I think it’s really important to be reminded that people like Jeanne who really genuinely changed the world really did exist. And that they did it in ways that are really profound, shocking and disturbing.

I think it’s really important to be reminded that to change the world one must really fight, and one must make real sacrifices. 

I would like us to look at people like her more realistically and take them more seriously. And maybe even recognise elements of her in ourselves. I personally remind myself of her courage, regularly. And there are other elements of her personality that are really amazing and inspiring too, and I hope people would get that from the book.

Dr Ali Alizadeh is in the School of Languages, Linguistics, Cultures and Literary Studies and coordinates two units: Writing in Australia and Reading the City. Among Dr Alizadeh’s books are the collection of poetry, Ashes in the Air (UQP, 2011), shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, Poetry; the work of creative non-fiction Iran: My Grandfather (Transit Lounge, 2010), shortlisted for a NSW Premier’s Literary Award; and the novel The New Angel (Transit Lounge, 2008). His most recent book is a work of fiction titled Transactions (UQP, 2013), long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. 

Dr Alizadeh is interested in political writing, poetry and fiction that explore controversial themes such as history, violence and war. His research is mostly in contemporary writing, especially contemporary Australian writing, and also philosophy, literary theory and Marxism, and he supervises a range of postgraduate research that has an affinity with his research areas.

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Part I: Raising the political stakes with Jeanne d’Arc and Dr Ali Alizadeh

Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc)’s controversial life and death are being depicted in a comprehensive new literary work by Dr Ali Alizadeh titled The Last Days of Jeanne D’Arc due out this year. We sat down with Dr Alizadeh to explore his decades-long research into the character of Jeanne d’Arc that brought up questions about political writing, the phenomena and ideology of real revolution, the question of war, and the revolutionary potential of Jeanne d’Arc in contemporary discourse, politics and concepts of universalism.

Jeanne D’Arc is quite an important but complex figure in European history. How did you first come across Jeanne?

Jeanne d'Arc, photo by Jasper Pitt-Alizadeh
Jeanne d’Arc, photo by Jasper Pitt-Alizadeh

I was aware of her when I was very little and I became interested right away.  I think that’s because when you’re a child, you see her and you automatically realise that she was also a child. I think it happens to a lot of people, especially as children when you encounter her image in popular culture or church or wherever – they see a figure that they can relate to very quickly. They recognise her youth, her courage, her vulnerability, her desire to want to change the world. You see, in her, the original revolutionary figure.  

Which is very interesting when you contrast that with how she’s been used politically in France, as this kind of figurehead, and part of an absolute counter-revolutionary, chauvinistic attempt to roll things back and return to the time of Christian, patriarchal and monarchical authority in France. There’s still a group there that wants to bring monarchy back to France after 230 years and they see her as their mascot. And of course she’s also the mascot of the Front National who’s likely to win the election, unfortunately. But recently I read a book by a French communist writer, Daniel Bensaid, who identified with Jeanne as he was growing up, in a way similar to me, so for a lot of us on the Left it’s very weird to have this figure wrongly identified with a certain Rightist political movement.

She’s a complex figure politically but for various reasons young people from very different cultural and political backgrounds have gravitated towards her and I think there is something in her image, there’s something kind of mysterious in her image, that has radical promises embedded in it.

Radical promises – is this what you look into?

For me, the real question is the revolutionary potential. She’s such a figure for revolution and change. How to reconcile that with a whole range of other things that are associated with her, such as patriotism, ultranationalism, and a very conservative take on Christianity. 

And then there’s the question of war, which is a difficult one because she was a warrior, she wanted to become a warrior, she won battles. For me, when I started writing this 20 years ago, I had a certain politics – I was anti-war – but how can you be anti-war when you’re writing about her? Not very easy. But I’ve changed my own views a little bit. 

Something about her that’s really amazing and very timely now is her universality, as a symbol for universalism.

She decided to fight for a cause that affected the entire nation, and not just her region, not just the peasants in her village, not just a certain group of people, a certain religion, a particular gender, race, etc. Today, it would be inconceivable that any revolutionary would say, ‘I want to do something for everyone’. If they did that we would think they were a lying politician. But that’s actually what revolutionaries do, that’s what a revolution is, a kind of transcending of particularity to the point of genuine true radical universality. 

I think that today in our post-modern condition which is obsessed with particularity and identity and our own individual struggles and so on, the best we can come up with is what we call inter-sectionality, where momentarily we might be allied if our little selfish concerns intersect, but tomorrow, in this capitalist culture, we could become sworn enemies again. That’s not radical at all, I mean the real radicalism of a figure like Jeanne or events like the French Revolution is about the promise and the real practice – very difficult, sometimes violent and disruptive practice – of what it means to be a member of the human race. And want to produce a real, collective universal solidarity for a political cause. 

And I think that’s a really important thing to be reminded of today. Especially as today the figure of Jeanne is being hijacked by this and that interest group who want to use her as their mascot. She belongs to everyone and I think this is something she embodied in her own life. And she did that by negating or destroying publicly her own personal and individual identity, by saying: I will not appear as a woman, I will not appear as a man, I will put on an armour. She must have had a very deep intuition of what it is to become the hero for everybody. We need more leaders like that, but I think we need that kind of understanding of subjectivity in our personal lives as well.

How have other writers and artists depicted her character?

She’s proved very difficult for a lot of writers. Of all the famous writers and artists who have written about her – Shakespeare, Friedrich Schiller, Mark Twain, and many very famous ones – I think they’ve all failed miserably. I don’t think anyone would defend Shakespeare’s depiction of her in Henry VI. It is so amateurish Shakespeare scholars say it could only have been written by someone other than Shakespeare himself, or one of his assistants must have helped with that. But I think that’s because she’s a very difficult character. 

Jeanne D'Arc
Jeanne D’Arc

But how do you write about someone who’s so sincere, passionate, who wants to lead an army and is so brave and courageous, and at the same time is an introvert, a mystic, from a peasant background? It seems like it’s a very difficult character to reconcile all these contradictory elements. I’m sure that if it were a fictional character the editor would say, ‘No no this character is not realistic, you can’t have a 17 year old girl convince a king to give her an army in late medieval Europe. That’s absurd!’ But that actually happened, so how do you make that believable as a writer?

In terms of what historians and novelists have done in the past, there’s a brilliant movie from 1928, called The Passion of Joan of Arc. It’s a black and white silent movie directed by Danish filmmaker Carl Dreyer and it’s very moving, very affecting but it’s only about one part – the trial – and how she felt while she was being interrogated. I don’t think Dryer could tell the whole story, but he did capture a moment of her suffering and her passion. 

And there’s a great play by George Bernard Shaw from around the same time. It’s satirical, it mocks the perceptions of people who encountered her, but it has nothing to say of the person she was. 

I can go through a list, but there is not a single artwork, other than my own forthcoming novel, that I can hold up and say, this tells us something about who she really was as a full person or how we might be able to put together all of this body of information, everything we know about her, together. And I’m not saying that to be arrogant. When I did my PhD research I read so much, basically everything available in English, and to the best of my ability in other languages, and I just couldn’t find a complete account of her subjectivity. There was nothing there that really convinced me, about which I could say: Yep, that nails it.

Some have ultimately resorted to conspiracy theories, that, for example, the Queen of France’s mother was behind it all – that’s the latest trend especially coming out of liberal feminist American circles and scholarship. According to this theory, it was a socially important successful woman who created Jeanne; poor little peasant Jeanne was useless on her own. I strongly think that’s a wrong view, and there’s no historical proof for it. 

But there’s other more bizarre conspiracy theories that say she wasn’t a peasant after all. That she was the bastard sister of the King of France, that she didn’t get burnt at the stake, that someone else got burnt and she went on to get married and have children. A couple of weeks ago there was a conference in the region in France where she’s from, and a journalist who’s made a living peddling these conspiracy theories was saying publicly again, ‘No no, you’ve been lied to, she’s she was the bastard daughter of the King of France, and she’d been trained from when she was born to ride a war horse and wear armour, and she never heard voices’. She’s a very difficult character to get your head around, and many people can’t.

Is it a question of evidence?

The interesting thing about her is that we know so much about her. She was the most famous person of her era. This was early to mid-15th century and there is so much documentation. When she first appears on the political scene, we immediately get records of her, chronicles that are being written, there is a very famous long poem written on her by the most famous poet of the period. Then of course there are all of her correspondences. Then when she is caught by her enemies, her enemies make sure the trial is absolutely legitimate, and they have it fully documented in old French and in Latin. All the minutes of the trial are transcribed thoroughly, the Latin is for the Pope. So we have these two very huge bodies of text available to us.

Jeanne D'Arc
Jeanne D’Arc

Then 20 to 25 years after her execution, once the French were winning the war against the English, they reopened the trial to prove she was not a heretic, to show that she was innocent. They brought all of these soldiers who had fought with her, her childhood friends from her village, countless people to give testimonies about what they knew about her, so then we get another huge body of documents. We know so much about her, some bizarre things – we know about her menstruation cycles, colour of hair, her diet, her not needing to go to the toilet so often because she had a strong bladder. These are the kinds of things that we don’t know about famous people in our own time, yet we know all this about someone who lived almost 600 years ago. 

We have a lot of facts I guess. But putting them together is the challenge, the imaginative, conceptual challenge.

Perhaps the historical works and recent accounts are more of a reflection of the people then and what they were trying to find in her as opposed to about her?

That’s a very good point. Even today, we’re nowhere nearer to having a better understanding of her. Scientists are interested in her as well so they come up with their own absurd theories. The latest scientific theory is that she had epilepsy, and they think they’ve solved her ‘problem’. But we know Jeanne never had seizures, so the scientists have come up with some very rare form of epilepsy which doesn’t cause seizures, that could also, conveniently, cause auditory or visual hallucinations. But what are the chances of somebody with such a ridiculously rare condition to also become a military genius?! Jeanne was someone who led armies to victories that they wouldn’t otherwise have won without her. I’m not biased against people who have epilepsy, I find it very difficult to reconcile this latest scientific proposal with what Jeanne did during her life.

I guess we have real limitations in the ways we try to approach such a figure and it’s possible that she’s a bit too complex anyway. But I think we’re, generally speaking, determined to simplify things, to reduce things, to something we can understand. So theories about epilepsy and schizophrenia are supposed to provide us with an answer. I think that desire to have a conclusive answer is the problem, maybe. Her name has come up a bit in French politics and it’s the same business – very simplistic ways of looking at very complex phenomena.

The ability to handle very complex phenomena – how do you think the Humanities enables this?

We’re called ‘humanities’ for a reason, because we value the human subjects in all of their aspects, and we do value emotions. I tell my students that how you feel about a novel or a book of poems will definitely determine whether or not you’ll be able to write about it well. You can’t write a great essay about a book you just don’t enjoy reading. That’s definitely one of the foundations of the humanities. I guess that’s why we’re not called ‘the humanity sciences’, no one’s come up with a term like that. There’s the social sciences but terms like ‘literary sciences’ or ‘creative sciences’ don’t really work instead of ‘humanities’, and it’s partly because we do really value the human faculty, the mind, the subjective elements that we think are key in advancing the knowledge in our discipline.

Of course science is about creativity as well, but to take a very simplistic view of comparing science to art, we, in the humanities or arts, do really value what people are capable of doing when they use their imagination and emotions and philosophy. Things like that are important in science too but we do think that thought, reflection, ethics and politics come into our discipline a lot more.

I don’t necessarily see a sort of opposition between art and science because ultimately truth is what we’re all interested in.

I think that one view of the humanities, something I don’t like, is moving too much in that fad in the 80s post-modernism, where truth is denounced in the name of culture, and I certainly don’t agree with that because I think truth is something we, artists and scientists alike, are all interested in in different ways. My novel might propose a truth about what it means to be a revolutionary subject, and a scientist might propose a truth about the cause of global warming. So we’re interested in truths in different ways. And I think there’s a lot more we have in common than not.

Continue reading Part II of this interview exploring the search for truths, political writing in Australia and advice for those interested in undertaking a PhD…

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2017 Green Room Best Actor winner awarded to Monash Professor

Theatre-maker and Director of Monash’s Centre for Theatre and Performance, Associate Professor Jane Montgomery-Griffiths, has won best actor in the prestigious Green Room Awards 2017 (27 March) for her performance in the Pulitzer prize winning play, Wit.

Jane Montgomery-Griffiths for Wit, photo by Pia Johnson
Jane Montgomery-Griffiths for Wit, photo by Pia Johnson

Now in their 34th year, the Green Room Awards are Melbourne’s premier performing arts industry awards and recognise excellence and innovation across a range of categories.

Nominated in the Independent Theatre category for her role in ‘Wit’ by Margaret Edson play, the production played to sell out audiences and rave reviews from all major Melbourne theatre critics.

Dean of the Arts, Professor Rae Francis, congratulated Associate Professor Montgomery-Griffiths on winning the best actor award.

“The project is a wonderful example of the impact that our academics are having beyond the academy, and also an inspiring example of the benefits of collaboration across disciplines, institutions and sectors.”

Associate Professor Montgomery Griffiths said she was thrilled to receive the award:

Wit is a beautiful and important play, and performing in it was one of the highlights of my career. It’s also wonderful that this production, the first professional production of the play in Australia, demonstrates how Monash and the theatre industry are working together to foster thought-provoking and powerful Practice-as-Research projects.”

This production was made possible by the generous support of the Monash Academy of Performing Arts, and the Pratt Foundation through its ongoing financial sponsorship of the Centre for Theatre Performance.

It also received the approval of Ovarian Cancer Australia (for whom the production held a benefit performance) and has formed the basis of a Monash/Warwick Alliance grant to examine the role theatre can play in empathetic engagement with, and public health education on, Ovarian Cancer, and an Arts Faculty seed funding grant to pursue an ARC Linkage between producing theatre companies and Ovarian Cancer Australia.

A number of Monash alumni and current students were also nominated for the Green Room Awards including: Chris Wenn for sound design; Mark Wilson for direction, writing  and best production; Melanie Jame Walsh for experimental performance; and two for ‘Wit’. In addition, two Monash teaching staff Emma Valente and Stephen Nicolazzo were nominated both for best independent production, and Emma Valente for best lighting too, and Monash’s CTP artist in residence, Zoe Dawson for best writing. 

Cheap print: new book about pocket-sized popular music anthologies from the nineteenth century

Dr Paul Watt
(Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music) and Dr Patrick Spedding (LLCL)—with Professor Derek B. Scott (University of Leeds)—are the editors of a new book published today by Cambridge University Press.

Cheap Print and Popular Song in the Nineteenth Century: A Cultural History of the Songster is a study of pocket-sized anthologies of song texts, usually without musical notation.

Called songsters these anthologies were published in the thousands—sometimes tens of thousands—but few have survived into the twenty-first century.

This book examines the musical, social, commercial and aesthetic functions songsters served and the processes by which they were produced and disseminated, the repertory they included, and the singers, printers and entrepreneurs that both inspired their manufacture and facilitated their consumption.

Taking an international perspective, chapters focus on songsters from Australia, Britain, Ireland and North America and the varied public and private contexts in which they were used and exploited in oral and print cultures.

‘Putting this book together has been exciting not only for us as the editors, but also for our contributors. We have looked in far-flung places for these rare artefacts and to bring their histories to life has been fantastic. Learning about the composers, performers, printers and audiences for these songsters has been a revelation,’ said Dr PaulWatt.

Cheap Print and Popular Song in the Nineteenth Century is the second book published as part of the Monash–Leeds Research Partnership in Music. In 2011, Dr Paul and Dr Spedding co-edited Bawdy Songbooks of the Romantic Period, which was published to wide critical acclaim.

Dr Spedding comments: ‘We have been very lucky to have had the chance to, first, recover a large collection of lost nineteenth-century songsters and, then, to have been able to facilitate the publication of path-breaking new research on the significance of songsters in general. A lot remains to be done, but we are now closer than ever to understanding the scope of popular song in the nineteenth-century.’

Other books arising from the Monash–Leeds partnership include the Oxford Handbook of Music and Intellectual Culture in the Nineteenth Century (edited by Paul Watt, Sarah Collins and Michael Allis) and The Symphonic Poem in Britain, 1850–1940: Texts and Contexts (edited by Michael Allis and Paul Watt).

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Speaking the language of us

In 18 months, about 60 people from 30 different nationalities who speak 40 languages in total have been profiled on Multilinguals of Melbourne, an online photojournalism project on Melbournians started by Master of Interpreting and Translation student Laura Blackmore.

It’s a page where Melbourne’s cultural diversity comes into play but perhaps more importantly, highlights the often overlooked but significant role language, translation and interpreting plays in acute life-and-death matters and more broadly, equity and social justice. Disney also recently recognised Laura’s vision and featured her story in their ‘Dream Big Princess’ campaign.

We spoke with Laura about how Multilinguals of Melbourne got going, what she’s learnt from her study at Monash so far, and what she’s planning to do next.

Laura Blackmore
Film still of Disney video on Laura Blackmore

How did the idea for ‘Multilinguals of Melbourne’ come about?

I can’t pinpoint exactly how, but it was one of the many nights up in my dorm at Monash when I was thinking of Humans of New York [photography project turned photojournalism series with two best-selling books], and then I thought of starting Multilinguals of Melbourne.

I always wanted to create something to show my friends and family back home who I was meeting, as I’m not from Melbourne originally – I’m from Jervis Bay in NSW (two hours south of Sydney). 

It started with my roomies first: Clara from Germany, Nive from India, and Clarisse from Taiwan. Through that I started interviewing people in my course, and then some organisations stated sending me messages. Meltomo [an online platform where Melbourne and Japan connect] from Melbourne messaged me, and we did a big group interview, then some organisations from different parts of Australia including a language bookshop in Perth, and then an overseas Language School in Texas contacted me.

Clarisse was one of the first people featured on Mom and also my roommate at the time. She is an international student from Taiwan and was studying her master's at Monash
Clarisse was one of the first people featured on Mom and also my roommate at the time. She is an international student from Taiwan and was studying her master’s at Monash
Nivedita was the first person featured on MoM and was also studying her master's at Monash. She is an international student from India.
Nivedita was the first person featured on MoM and was also studying her master’s at Monash. She is an international student from India.
Clara (left), Nivedita and Clarisse were my roommates when I came up with the idea of MoM and they were all a huge inspiration for starting the blog
Clara (left), Nivedita and Clarisse were my roommates when I came up with the idea of MoM and they were all a huge inspiration for starting the blog

Why did you choose Monash?

I had a friend who also applied to do the Master of Interpreting and Translation, and had heard great things about it, and the course also has the NAATI approval. I also looked up the campus, and campus life looked great as well.

Living on campus at Clayton was great: we had Sunday afternoon mingles, we had a big event for Diwali the Indian festival of Lights, we had a fair, we had sports – just a great community to come back to.

I was so new to Melbourne it was so nice to have people around me on campus. And I was a ten minute walk to classes so couldn’t complain.

Shankar was featured on MoM and was an international student from India who was studying his undergraduate degree at Monash
Shankar was featured on MoM and was an international student from India who was studying his undergraduate degree at Monash
L-R: Clarisse, Nivedita & myself after the very first photoshoot for MoM
L-R: Clarisse, Nivedita & myself after the very first photoshoot for MoM

How was your experience with the Master of Translation and Interpreting course?

With the master’s, I found it quite a bit more challenging than I thought it would be, just because my level of Spanish wasn’t as great as it could have been.

But I still really enjoyed the course I still really enjoyed the challenge, I really enjoyed being with different people as well.

We had core subjects on the theory of translation and practical-based tutorials, where we actually had to translate from Spanish to English with a wide range of people.

We also got to hear about some language-oriented PhD studies. I got to sit in on one where my tutor presented her project: a book, on a famous Mexican author. That was really interesting for me because I had travelled there.

The team who started Meltomo, who are an Australian/Japanese organisation who promote cross-cultural interactions including all things culture, fashion and language and were all featured on MoM
The team who started Meltomo, who are an Australian/Japanese organisation who promote cross-cultural interactions including all things culture, fashion and language and were all featured on MoM

My eyes were really opened with this course, I didn’t realise how hard it would be to translate cultural norms, like pop culture for instance.

People don’t value the profession of translation and interpreting because they don’t know how hard it is. I mean, I can translate something but someone else can come in and translate it quite differently depending how much they know about the culture.

They often say, choose a country to specialise in as there’s so much within that country – politics, law, travelling, tourism – so much that you want to be the best in a particular culture.

Arden, Joslyn and Nathan are from the ACYA VIC BLC (Australia Chinese Youth Association Victoria Bilingual Language Competition) and were all featured on MoM
Arden, Joslyn and Nathan are from the ACYA VIC BLC (Australia Chinese Youth Association Victoria Bilingual Language Competition) and were all featured on MoM

And for me, it’s also about the skills you learn from learning a language. In school, we learn about the ‘three Rs’ – reading, writing, and arithmetic – but these can be learnt from learning another language too. 

The skills you learn from learning another language are applicable to other areas of study and it just opens your eyes to other people who are out there.

Stevi is the most recent person to be featured on MoM and was an international student at Monash
Stevi is the most recent person to be featured on MoM and was an international student at Monash

It also gives you a certain amount of empathy – you know they’re also trying when you meet someone here and they can’t speak English. People don’t generally want to stand out that way. It’s compassion from other people. Being a good human.

Recently, you were a Disney Language and Culture Ambassador, can you tell us a bit about that?

I’d come back from Mexico last year and thought I’d give ‘Multilinguals of Melbourne’ a really good go.

Then about a month later Disney asked if I wanted to be part of the ‘Dream Big Princess’ campaign which was about girls having their own dreams, interests and hobbies, and so I got to be interviewed for that in July last year and it was released in September.

They wanted to change the narrative for girl power and change the face of who they are, like with the Frozen movie. I was in it with two other girls, a cake maker and a boxer who’s going to the Australian Commonwealth Games, hopefully. I felt really empowered that I got to be a part of it.

What did this involve, what was your story for Disney?

I guess by trade I’m a journalist and language lover, and creating ‘Multilinguals of Melbourne’ when I moved to Melbourne was a way for me to make friends too.

I also love connecting people, people say to me, ‘hey, I’m going to South America in a year, how can I learn Spanish?’

And it’s also for 14 year old me. If I had seen something like this when I was 14, I’d think, oh people actually use languages!Film still of Disney video on Laura Blackmore (click the image to view the video)

Where do you envision ‘Multilinguals of Melbourne’ going?

I would love to be able to go and do ‘Multilinguals in Melbourne’ in different parts of Australia and the world – I know that’s a huge goal.

Maybe make mini documentaries capturing Australia for what it is, not just those in languages. I want to keep interviewing people and meeting people at the grassroots level. Maybe collaborate with a print magazine too; I’m putting the feelers out there. I have big dreams, but I guess it’s about what people want too.

On that, I don’t really feel like there’s a company that’s producing these stories – I feel like language gets left off the music and cultural scene in reporting and magazines.

I know languages can feel dry but I think it’s an uncharted area and I want to explore it more. I also feel like I owe it to the people who have been featured on ‘Multilinguals of Melbourne’ and to continue to facilitate connection through our shared passion for language and cultural diversity.

All photos courtesy of Laura Blackmore.

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Zareh Ghazarian delivers Senate Occasional Lecture

Dr Zareh Ghazarian delivered the Senate Occasional Lecture in Parliament House

Dr Zareh Ghazarian, Lecturer in Politics and International Relations from the School of Social Sciences, delivered the Senate Occasional Lecture in Parliament House, Canberra on 17 March, 2017.

The lecture marked the 40th anniversary of the election of the Australian Democrats to the national parliament. It drew on Dr Ghazarian’s research on minor parties as well as findings from his most recent book, The Making of a Party System: Minor Parties in the Australian Senate.

The lecture considered the rise of minor parties in the Australian Senate, especially since the 1980s, and constructed a novel framework for analysis.

As Dr Ghazarian explained, “minor parties winning Senate contests in recent years are advancing a specific policy agenda with links to broad social movements, whereas earlier minor parties arose as a result of fragmentation in a major party with the view to be either watchdogs on, or frustrate, the major parties”.

The lecture also highlighted how the Australian Democrats revitalised the role of the Senate in Australian politics and government.

A recording of the lecture can be found on the Australian Parliament House website.

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Monash journalism staff & graduates win three Quills


Curtailing unemployment and division in Istanbul with International Studies

International Studies student Shannon Kay is currently working first-hand in Istanbul, Turkey, which as of February 2017 is host to more refugees than any other country in the world. This includes almost 3 million registered Syrians, with over 500,000 refugees trying to re-establish themselves in Istanbul, a city with a population of over 15 million.

Through a Monash Arts international internship placement, Shannon became co-director of Small Projects Istanbul (SPI) that mostly serves the Arabic speaking community displaced from Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Yemen, through offering educational, social and livelihood support to families and children rebuilding their lives in Istanbul. We crossed to her for a live update. 

Small Projects Instanbul

Firstly, what brought you to SPI?

I am currently completing my final year of an Arts (Global) degree, majoring in International Studies, and focusing on anthropology, political science and history, with a specific interest in the Middle East. Through the support of Monash University, I was able to complete an international internship placement over January to April last year with SPI as part of my degree. It brought a new level of academic focus and direction to my work.

What is your role at SPI?

I have been volunteering as a co-director here since July 2015, during this time the SPI community and education centre has rapidly expanded and now runs a busy weekly schedule for a growing community of beneficiaries. We have also sponsored the enrolment of over 50 primary and high school students from Syria to return to formal education at local Arabic and Turkish schools.

Can you give us a snapshot of the scope of work you’re involved in?

Yes the SPI program has:

  • 20+ programs running throughout the week;
  • 60+ children participating in weekly education and social integration activities as a pathway into formal education;
  • 100+ women working in a handicraft collective established through SPI as a means to generate income and create social connections;
  • 20+ children between 0-4 participating in early childhood development activities while their mothers are working in our handicraft program; and
  • 30+ young professional Syrians having made social connections, extending their networks and finding employment through contacts at SPI.

And, we have just launched a new campaign!

Impressive. How has this work impacted on you and your perspectives?

Through my studies and work I have developed a deep belief and passion for the need for transformative change in our current world systems. I am attempting to enact these beliefs in my daily activities with SPI and in my life in general. This is not the kind of work that can be achieved in isolation, and I have been fortunate enough to meet and work alongside countless others who share my vision.

Personally I find this work both challenging and energising, and feel very privileged to have the opportunity to work so closely with a community of individuals whom I find extremely inspiring in their attitudes and wisdom throughout the hardships of their daily realities. 

What advice would you give to current students?

I believe that individuals can make a difference, and grass-roots efforts like SPI do change lives. I challenge you to commit to one small change in your life. Be brave, see the power of your actions and inspire those around you.

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Testing times: new research project looks at expectations in healthcare testing

Australians have high expectations of tests in healthcare. But are they higher than warranted? And are they impacting on healthcare expenditure?

Importantly, what role do particular socio-cultural factors play in producing and sustaining expectations that may be higher than warranted by scientific evidence?

How do different healthcare contexts shape the meanings attributed to tests—their perceived applications, value and risks?

These are some of the questions underpinning a new ARC-funded project that will be the first sociological study in Australia of expectations in healthcare testing. It aims to understand the sociocultural processes underpinning optimism for the use of testing technologies in healthcare.

Focussing on the Australian national cancer screening programs and routine testing in clinical practice, the project will explore the mechanisms by which optimistic expectations of healthcare testing emerge and function among different stakeholder communities.

Insights from this study will ultimately help to inform the development of policies and strategies that ensure a cost-effective use of healthcare resources.

Find out more about the ‘Expectations in healthcare testing’ study at the newly launched project website.

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Outstanding Young Alumni Award 2017: Monash Arts alumnus Fahd Pahdepie

Fahd Pahdepie speaking at the Alumni Annual Gala Dinner, Jakarta, 18th March, 2017.
(Photo courtesy Australian Embassy, Jakarta)

Monash Master of International Relations alumnus, Fahd Pahdepie, has won the 2017 Outstanding Young Alumni Award. Supported by the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, the award is part of the 2017 Alumni Awards which recognize and showcase the significant contribution made by Australian Alumni in their professional fields.

Fahd is an author and social entrepreneur who developed, an online platform for aspiring writers, videographers, photographers and graphic designers to showcase their projects and build networks. Fahd explained that is an open platform which invites creative people from multiple disciplines to spread the idea of diversity and tolerance.

“Imagine if they can create writing, designs, illustrations, videos, or music that campaign for diversity and create a counter-narrative to terrorism? That will be something!” said Fahd.

Since it’s launch in January 2016, the site has reached more than 46,000 members, and over 74,000 works have been uploaded. One project example was a competition run by in collaboration with ‘Yayasan Indonesia Tanpa Diskriminasi’ (Indonesia Without Discrimination Foundation) and  ‘Aliansi Nasional untuk Bhinneka Tunggal Ika‘ (National Alliance for Indonesian Ethnic and Religious Diversity), calling for essays, posters, and videos to promote tolerance and diversity. Thousands of works were submitted during the competition, and Fahd sees many of those works as having the potential to change people’s hearts and minds.

“I believe that creative industries can be used to prevent youth from being lured into extremism. I do it with my writings in social media and also my books. If I can soften people’s hearts with my works, videos or music that’s what I will do, to build a counter-narrative to extremism. I am pretty sure that if we want to be successful in de-radicalisation, we must invest more in the creative industries,” said Fahd.

Monash Master of International Relations alumnus, Fahd Pahdepie

Fahd said that he has always been interested in entrepreneurship, but that it was his Monash master’s degree that really got him on the path to where he is today. He said he found the course “was an eye opener.”

Talking about the impact that Monash academics and their research had had on his own interests and career development, he said, “I remember a paper in Dr. Gu‘s class about ‘Social Media as the New Battleground in Indonesian Politics’, and that was the trigger for me to set up Digitroops Indonesia, an agency that provides strategic social media services for government institutions, politicians, political parties and companies.” 

“I also remember that Associate Professor Pete Lentini’s lectures gave me ideas that in order to fight extremism and terrorism, we could use art, community development, and also the creative industries, and so that is what I did after I graduated from Monash,” he added.

So what is next for Fahd Pahdepie?

“I want to make a movie. So far, I think the movie is the highest achievement in creative work. I believe that I can spread more messages and reach more audiences with movies. I want to inspire as many people as I can, and that is what inspires and motivates me to do the best in my life,” said Fahd.

So watch this space, we’re sure we’ll hear more from this dynamic Monash graduate in the future, and we congratulate him for his well deserved award. 

Fahd’s award was presented to him along with other recipients of the 2017 Alumni Awards at a prestigious Alumni Annual Gala Dinner in Jakarta on the 18th March, 2017.

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What leading editors look for in student journalists


Nathalie Nguyen’s ‘South Vietnamese Soldiers’ launched at ADFA

Professor Peter Stanley (left), Associate Professor Nathalie Nguyen, and Dr Tom Richardson (right).

Associate Professor Nathalie Nguyen, Director of the Monash National Centre for Australian Studies, had her book South Vietnamese Soldiers: Memories of the Vietnam War and After launched at the Australian Defence Force Academy UNSW, Canberra, on 7 March 2017, by Professor Peter Stanley.

Associate Professor Nathalie Nguyen (author) at book launch. Photos courtesy of the Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society, UNSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

“Nathalie’s South Vietnamese Soldiers is a powerful book, telling a story that has been neglected if not suppressed … Nathalie rescues these men and women from that black hole, and in the most accessible and immediate way … I found her account profoundly moving,” said Professor Stanley (noting also that he was standing in for the late Professor Jeffrey Grey).

“She shows, I think, that a nation now substantially of migrants must now acknowledge and embrace the histories of Australia’s many constituent ethnic groups as part of its history … These conflicts, like the memories Nathalie has recorded and interpreted, are now part of our nation’s memory of war,” added Professor Stanley.

Associate Professor Nguyen gave a presentation, and was then in conversation with Dr Tom Richardson, who is currently working on Professor Craig Stocking’s Official History project. Questions from the audience followed.

Hosted by the Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society, the event was attended by nearly sixty people and represented a very good mix of veterans and cadets, members of the Vietnamese community in Canberra, scholars and academics, members of the general public, and librarians.

Book launch of South Vietnamese Soldiers: Memories of the Vietnam War and After

The National Library of Australia was a partner organisation for Associate Professor Nguyen’s ARC Future Fellowship project on Vietnamese veterans, and was well represented at the launch.

A key outcome of Associate Professor Nguyen’s project was the creation and establishment of a new oral history archive entitled “The Vietnamese Veterans in Australia Oral History Project” at the National Library. These oral histories will be preserved in perpetuity and available to the public and future historians.

Photos courtesy of the Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society, UNSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

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Game, set, match with alumnus Joel Smith

From creating a documentary in Norway to producing a 10 week radio show, we spoke with Joel Smith about his study experience at Monash and how he landed his dream job at Tennis Australia.

So how did you get to Tennis Australia?

You have to put yourself out there for your first job, and in doing so I have been able to steer my way back to what I am doing today.

The skills I learnt from my journalism degree at Monash certainly built the foundation for choosing a current career path of social media. This not only included how to write articles but also how to conduct yourself in front of a camera.

I recently wrote an article for which appeared to millions, and I’d like to thank my degree at Monash for things like writing style, editorial style, and the basic structure of an article. 

However, there was more to journalism than the above. We learnt about journalism conduct and ethical practices. I guess you could say a boring subject at the time, but I’m very grateful for having this knowledge now that I am in the media industry.

What drew you to study journalism, marketing and PR at Monash?

Good question. I think, going through high school, like many students you’re not that sure what you want to do. However, my interests and passions in sport and media swayed me towards the idea of a career in journalism.

There’s no doubt it’s a long hard slog to find exactly what you want but the thing is I didn’t know what that thing was. Therefore, I chose to study journalism, but kept it open with a major in marketing and a minor in PR. My course allowed me to discover all the elements of journalism and the different avenues you could go down, but I certainly didn’t know at the time that I would find myself smack-bang in the middle of the two [journalism and marketing]. The media landscape is rapidly changing and I guess I’m changing with it.

Lucky you studied the perfect mix. What were some of the highlights for you in it?

There wasn’t one semester that was the same, which kept things interesting. We heard from various industry guest speakers including the one and only Mike Sheahan (Former Chief Football Writer at the Herald Sun) and we had classes with industry people like Jay Mueller (Former 3AW radio producer) and a journalist from The Age.

The course was really hands on too, especially radio and TV which included creating a 10-week radio show, a 90 second news story and a 5 minute current affairs story. We were basically asked to do what you would be doing out in the real world – the media world.

A whole radio show?

Yeah, in second year we had a radio subject which required us to be part of a 10-week radio show with Monash Radio. This was a 60-minute time slot which included everything from music, interviews as well as news breaks. If I had to pick a traditional medium – radio would be my pick. It’s a more relaxed environment, you can talk about anything and it’s not down-the-line editorial. We had a lot of fun doing it.

Talking about fun, I heard you got a scholarship to live in Finland and Norway studying journalism for a semester?

Yes! This was certainly the highlight of my time at Monash. I was lucky enough to be selected to go over to Finland for three months as part of the Global Environmental Journalism Initiative. This involved completing a number of units within their Environmental Journalism course at the University of Helsinki. It was an unreal experience! 

I was actually over there for about six months in total. Three months at the University of Helsinki, followed by 6 weeks in northern Norway where we spent some time at the Sámi University of Applied Sciences, where we were asked to put together a documentary piece on any local issue. My fellow student and I did a video piece on how new technologies like the snowmobile was taking over traditional transport. Through way of research, we spent a week with the local people called the Sámi people. This was such an eye-opening experience; seeing how they lived and worked.

Sounds amazing. It’s always interesting to see how people have reached their dreams, can you tell us a bit about your first steps?

For sure. I guess that first job is always the hardest because you are lacking in experience. No one in the big wide world knows about you. Your networking is limited and it’s so competitive, so you have to think about what is your point of difference, what will get you across the line? 

My first job was at a media agency, and to be honest I didn’t know media agencies even existed but it was just about putting myself out there and giving it a crack. However, I sincerely believe that the only reason I got a look in was because of my university degree. As a result, securing the job basically launched my career. Yes, it was in media, but at the same time it certainly was not what I was expecting first job out of university. But I was up for it, and I knew if I just got my foot in the door, who knows where I could end up and look where I am today!

What advice would you give students or young alumni looking to get their dream job?

Firstly, don’t be too selective when seeking that first job immediately after graduation. It’s very competitive out there and if you become too picky you’ll just find yourself applying again and again. From not knowing media agencies were a thing to six years later in my dream job. Therefore, take a risk, get out of your comfort zone and you never know where that’ll lead you.

My second piece of advice is that if you want something enough, you’ll find a way to get it. Previous to Tennis Australia, I was working at the Salvation Army as their social media coordinator. Although it was such a rewarding organisation to work for, it wasn’t where I wanted to be. After many thoughts and conversations, I took a leap of faith and actually resigned without having another job to go to. Three months passed before I was offered a job to work for one of the biggest sporting events (Australian Open) in the world. You may say luck was on my side but I was prepared to do whatever I had to secure my dream job.

Study at Monash Arts


Monash journalism’s strong showing in the Quills


Verge 2017 call out for submissions!

Monash University’s annual creative writing journal is now calling for submissions.

Verge 2017 Submission Guidelines:

1. Open to emerging and established writers.

2. No submission fee.

3. Must be an original unpublished work and not be under consideration elsewhere.

4. Poetry: maximum 60 lines; Graphic novel and photo essay: print quality, maximum 4 pages; Short story, narrative non-fiction and personal essay: maximum 3000 words.

5. 12-point font; Times New Roman; A4 page with 2.5cm margins; minimum 1.5 line spacing. Please note: authors of works requiring specific layout or white-space can request details for final page dimensions of the printed issue.

6. If a text file, use a header with the title of your work and the page number. Your name must not appear on your work.

7. Each submission must be saved as ‘Your name – Title of the work’ (maximum 3 submissions).

8. Acceptable file formats: .doc, .docx and .rtf for text files; .jpeg, .psd and .png for image files. Contact the editors with any queries.

9. Include a cover letter that has your name, address, email, phone number and a 50-word third-person bio.

10. Submit only electronic copies with the subject heading ‘Submission’ to midnight on Sunday 9 April 2017.

Back issues of Verge are available at Monash University Publishing.


Monash journalism alumna Alana lands key reporting role at The New Daily