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University of Melbourne CCGC Seminars: Friday 22 March, Natalie Dyer and Sophie Chandra

The Culture and Communication Graduate Committee at the University of Melbourne continue this year’s Friday Seminar Series of graduate presentations on Friday 22nd March, starting at 4pm in Room 106 of the John Medley Building. Staff and graduate students are welcome. The details of the talks are as follows:

Natalie Dyer: Reading Hélène Cixous’s Coming to Writing towards a theory of the Menstrual Imaginary

Abstract: In this thesis I enquire into the symbolic meaning of menstruation by posing the question: What is the menstrual imaginary? I take French writer and theorist Hélène Cixous’s essay Coming to Writing (1976) as my starting point for theorising a menstrual imaginary. I argue that Cixous develops a feminine imaginary relating to the maternal body, and with particular reference to menstruation, at the level of the symbolic. She deploys the hybrid animal woman figure of the Sphinx to convey the prohibited maternal body reborn out of a “good abyss”, connected with an animal voice, and the abject, which forges a “menstrual imaginary”, towards a poetic feminine writing practice. I find that the Sphinx and the Medusa alike provide access to a symbolic language that unveils menstruations meaning, that is aside from the physical act of flushing out toxins and draining away detritus from the woman’s body, menstruation means access to a feminine imaginary, which helps to positively develop female subjectivity

Sophie Chandra: Exposing the Closet Racist: Critical Race Debates in Contemporary Singapore

Abstract: In modern society, and one with clearly defined policies of multiracialism, the word ‘racism’ remains a largely unspoken word in official discourses in Singapore. My thesis explores the racial concerns that dominate the public sphere as race classification continues to guide Singapore’s mode of governmentality. I draw on Foucault’s (1980) theory of “biopolitics” and “genealogy of modern racism”, as well as Essed’s (2002) notion of “everyday racism” to examine the emergence of new forms of racism. By analysing the culture of a society that is organised around the idea of race, I argue that these mutations of racism – such as racism denials and symbolic racism – are very much prevalent in the lived experiences of Singaporean citizens and foreign migrants alike.

Note: As it will be Good Friday next week we will not be running the Friday Seminar Series, but please join us on the 5 April for Amanda Apthorpe’s Completion Seminar.

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