November 13-16, 2001 – Meaghan Morris: Lectures & Seminar


In the Outback of Civilization: Anthropology as Popular Culture in Modern Colonial Australia
Tuesday, November 13
4:00 PM
The lecture will include film clips from the 1940s Australian film Uncivilized.


“Two Schools”:Contact Narrative and Cultural Rivalry in Martial Arts Cinema
Thursday, November 15
4:00 PM
The lecture will include film clips from the 1970s Hong Kong film Bruce Lee in New Guinea.


On History in Action Adventure: Cultural Studies, Critical Theory, and the Question of Genre
Friday, November 16
10:00 AM-12:00 PM

Copies of the readings for this seminar are available to the UCSC community at the Center for Cultural Studies office, or may be requested via email ( Please make email requests at least one week in advance.

Meaghan Morris’s pathbreaking work in cultural studies ranges across many fileds, among them film and media; gender, nationality, and globalization; and Australian and Asian-Pacific popular culture. In two lectures and a seminar, Meaghan Morris presents her current work. One project centers on pioneering Australian travel writer/journalist Ernestine Hill, who used the literary action-adventure genre and “contact” stories about both Aborigines and Asian peoples in Australia to promote civilizational values and policies. The other examines the deployment of history in action cinema over the past 30 years, with attention to Hollywood, Hong Kong, and the production narratives about these “two schools” and “two styles.” The seminar will take up connections between the two projects, which form a trilogy with Morris’s 1998 book, Too Soon Too Late: History in Popular Culture, in which she writes:

Sharing neither the immobilizing conviction that practical action is pointless or doomed in the present, nor the panicky belief that immigrants, the internet, postmodern architecture, and aliens from outer space are terminating history, I think it worth remembering that cultural criticism is necessarily subject to phases of market boredom with …”critical ” historical sense…and with the slow, incremental temporality endured by any struggle with serious designs on the future. My response to such boredom is–that’s tough for cultural critics. Alternative values and their constituencies may be obliterated in an apocalyptic event, but they will not disappear by decree of some jaded culturati, nor fade to fit the needs of the conference component of the hospitality of industry. (232)


Morris is also the author of The Pirate’s Fiancee: Feminism, Reading, Postmodernism (1998) and Ecstasy and Economics: American Essays for John Forbes (1992), and co-editor, among other works, of Australian Cultural Studies: A Reader (1993) and Michel Foucault: Power, Truth, Strategy (1979). Currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University, Hong Kong, she has taught at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, Duke University, the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and La Trobe University.

Meaghan Morris’s visit is sponsored by the research clusters in Asia-Pacific-America and in Civilizational Thinking.