Contemporary Humanities and Creative Arts

Our scholars explore the complexity of the human experience. Through critical analysis and by creating innovative methods for engaging with performance and media arts, they develop understandings of and responses to the social, cultural and environmental contexts in which we live.

The broad theme of ‘Understanding and Doing: Contemporary Humanities and Creative Arts’ includes the following five specialist research strengths:

The members of these research clusters produce scholarly work that explores a range of diverse cultures, creative practices and philosophical frameworks. Their published findings span different historical periods, technologies and artistic traditions.

The impact of our work

Our humanities scholars include path-breakers in colonial and transnational history and contemporary philosophy. They have penned prize winning history books, paradigm shifting articles on transnational history, made documentary films, and mobilized contemporary philosophy and interdisciplinary historical research to refine our understanding of the role of networks, indigenous peoples, migrants and children in contemporary Australian life.

Our philosophers ask critical questions about our social, political and moral worlds through their scholarship in areas such as the relationship between identity-formation and community, biopolitics, childhood and innocence, indigenous rights, and the nature of morality and knowledge.

Performance Studies and Screen & Media Studies scholars produce interdisciplinary work analysing and producing different media forms and performance methods, including film, dance, music, drama and live art.

Researchers in the field of Literary and Cultural Modernity combine literary and cultural analysis with an examination of the media forms that define and inform the present. They examine questions of cultural and artistic value, the role of the media in shaping attitudes and beliefs, the function of literature and Australia’s place in the contemporary literary and cultural world. Their work is discussed in the media and at prestigious events, such as the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Working across disciplines as diverse as archaeology and law, and in archives from Germany to the Philippines, our Imperial, Colonial and Transnational research cluster is leading Australian research into the deep history of the indigenous-colonial encounter, migration and transnational and comparative history.

Evidence of excellence

Many of our researchers are the recipients of prestigious national and international awards, including the Prime Minister’s Award, the U.S. Urban History Prize, and the American Historical Association prize for legal history. Our networks include some of the nation’s most eminent scholars who, collectively, have published hundreds of books, chapters, journal articles and edited collections.

The profile of our scholars is recognized by their membership on editorial boards, associations and leading international research networks, including the Australian Academy of the Humanities, the Australian Academy of Sciences, the Royal Historical Society (London), Australian Historical Association and Performance Studies international.

Our network of experts has been successful in winning substantial numbers of competitive research grants, and in enriching research through international collaborations with leading institutions such as UCLA, Oxford University, the University of North Carolina, New York University, Bauhaus University, the University of Parma and the Institute of American Research.