Programme – 2024

Forthcoming events

Wednesday 24 July

6.30 pm start. Ellington Jazz Club, 191-193 Beaufort Street, Perth, upstairs.

Quiz Night!

PMRG is bringing back its annual fundraising quiz night! Expect an evening of trivia, table games, raffles, prizes, and fun. It’s not just for history buffs—test your knowledge of geography, music, movies, Australiana and more!

Teams will be competing as tables of 6. Tickets are $20 each, or you can book a whole table for $100. Singles are welcome and will be joined to make complete tables.

Food and drinks are available for purchase at the venue.

Please bring $2 coins for table games, true/false heads & tails, and raffles throughout the evening.

* Unfortunately, the upstairs area we’ll be in is not wheelchair accessible.

You can book your tickets online at https://www.trybooking.com/CSJMH.

Poster available here.

Wednesday 28 August

6.30 pm. Via Zoom.

Jennifer Bailey will present a paper on the tale of Peredur in the Middle Welsh Mabinogion, details TBC.

Monday 9 September

6.30 pm. Arts Lecture Room 4, UWA

Associate Professor Suzanne Wijsman (UWA) will present a paper, details TBC.

Thursday 3 October

6.30 pm. Via Zoom

Aleksandra Glabinska-Kelly (Charles Darwin University) will present a paper, ‘Apollo and the Cumaean Sibyl by Claude Lorrain and Salvator Rosa: A Comparative Study of Two Seventeenth-Century Landscape Paintings’.

This paper compares two seventeenth-century Baroque landscape paintings, the French painter Claude Lorrain’s (1604–1682) Coastal Landscape with Apollo and the Cumaean Sybil with a landscape painting composed by the Italian artist Salvator Rosa (1615–1673), River Landscape with Apollo and the Cumaean Sibyl. Claude Lorrain is a representative of an ideal landscape painting style inspired by classical literature such as Virgil’s Aeneid VI and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The classic association can be noticed by the idyllic, calm, luminous light, the quiet image of pine trees and the resting of the ancient ruins. Salvator Rosa represents a different kind of landscape painting, namely a fantasy one, with wild bare branches, dark forest and dramatic shadows foreshowing a storm. The provenance of the motif will be presented, giving some examples of the images of both Sibyl and Apollo in fine art before the seventeenth century. The analysis of the two works will concentrate on both the colour, composition of figures and other objects, as well as suggesting possible symbolic interpretations of those images and opening a discussion round the following questions: Why does Apollo approach the prophetic Sybil? Can we find particular reasons for this motif’s popularity in the seventeenth century? Can we uncover analogies to current societies’ widespread interest in future-telling and prophecies?

Aleksandra Glabinska-Kelly has recently submitted her PhD thesis, ‘Jan ze Trzciany, Arudinensis: The Concept of Human Dignity in Polish Renaissance’, at Charles Darwin University. She has a master’s degree in education (University of Södertörn, Stockholm),  a Master of Arts with major in History of Ideas (Stockholm University), and a Master of Scandinavian Languages and Culture (University of Gdańsk), and has published bilingual poetry. As a member of the Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia, Renaissance Society of America, and Australasian Association of Philosophy she have participated in various national and international conferences.

Saturday 16 November

UWA, venue TBC

2024 Conference: Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales

Further details available here.

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Earlier events

Tuesday, 13 February

6.30 pm, Arts Lecture Room 4, UWA

Professor Susan Broomhall will present a talk on Anne of Brittany and Natural Resource Management at the Château of Blois.

Towards the turn of the sixteenth century, France was experiencing a range of innovations in botany and horticulture that ranged from knowledge about new crops, new techniques for landscaping and for supporting exotic non-natives, to new garden designs reflecting Italian trends. This paper explores the contribution of Anne of Brittany, twice queen of France, to these developments, examining a series of contemporary archival documents, literary and visual evidence, and both eyewitness accounts and archaeological evidence about garden design, garden architecture, and decorative scheme. With a particular focus on the Château of Blois, this research examines how Anne was positioned by contemporaries and subsequently as a manager of natural resources, of both the kingdom of France and the duchy of Brittany.

This research forms part of an ARC Discovery project on the cultural history of early modern natural resource management.

Susan Broomhall is Professor of Early Modern Studies at the Australian Catholic University, where she is the Director of the Gender and Women’s History Research Centre. 

A poster can be found here.

Wednesday 6 March

6.30 pm, Arts Lecture Room 4, UWA

Annual General Meeting

followed at 7.00 by a presentation by Glenn McKnight and Louise Pitcher on their exciting research projects.

Glen McKnight: Recurrence and Revolution: Ancient Orphism in Early Modern Reception and Radical Politics

Ancient Orphism was a mystery religion worshipping Dionysos, the god of liberation, and Persephone, Queen of the Dead. Allegoresis was significant in the religious practice of the Orphics, and Glen’s study maintains a similar focus on poetry in its psychosocial function. A tradition of reception exists between esoteric philosophy and many poets now considered canonical, often representing a challenge to contemporary orthodoxy that ranges from ironically subversive to outright rebellious. This presentation is an overview of Orphic reception found in Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Shelley, and others, exploring Orphic figures in relation to a pronounced and deliberate instability: a coincidentia oppositorum found in androgyny, sexual and social radicalism, pantheistic mysticism, vegetarianism, and death as a metaphor of transformative rebirth.

Glen McKnight is undertaking a PhD in Classics Reception at the University of Western Australia and is the incumbent president of PMRG. He has presented on Orphism and the Orphic mysteries internationally and currently tutors in mythology at UWA. In his spare time he mopes about and writes depressing poetry.

Louise Pitcher: Contextualising the Chemise à la Reine Gown

The chemise à la reine was a controversial style of dress in the late eighteenth century. The lightweight cotton gown was made famous for scandalising the French public when it was worn by Marie Antoinette in her 1783 portrait La reine en gaulle by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, resulting in the painting being removed less than a week after being displayed. The dress is permanently entwined with colonialism, described in Marie Antoinette’s own diaries as a ‘robe à la Créole’, and inspired by the white muslin gowns of colonial women. This talk will cover Louise Pitcher’s work in progress contextualising this dress within colonialism, French fashion, and the work of modern material historians.

Louise Pitcher is a postgraduate student commencing her PhD in Media and Cultural Studies at Curtin University, interested in historical costuming for the stage and screen, representations of monstrous women, and genre films.

You can download a poster here.

Thursday 21 March

6.30 pm, Arts Lecture Room 4, UWA

Associate Professor Hiroki Okamoto will present a talk on Medievalism and Arthurian Legend in Japan

In Japan, there is widespread interest in Western medievalism, which serves as a significant source of inspiration for mangas, animes, and video games. Among the various medieval materials, the Arthurian legend has garnered substantial attention. While the Fate series (a visual novel developed by Type-Moon) can be viewed as a culmination of today’s Japanese Arthuriana, this is not an isolated and momentary phenomenon, but rather can be seen as a result of the constant exposure to and growing diffusion of these medieval stories through a variety of forms such as translations, adaptations, guidebooks, and scholarly publishing. As in the West, modern Arthuriana in Japan has been spread through the reading of Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur and its various adaptations. While acknowledging their robust influence, this paper addresses the reception of related stories not featured in Malory’s Morte, particularly the episodes of the adventures of Sir Gawain. The paper explores the growing expansion and changing focus of the legend, discussing the rise of Gawain’s fame as a token of diverse medievalism.

Hiroki Okamoto is an Associate Professor at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, and has published on Arthuriana.

You can download a poster here.

Friday 5 April

9.15am3.00pm, Arts Seminar Room G01, UWA

Humanities Research Skills Masterclass with Dr Victoria Bladen (University of Queensland) 

This free in-person all-day event is open to all undergraduate and postgraduate humanities students at any university. It aims to address the skills needed by second- and third-year undergraduates and Honours students to undertake major research projects and to navigate the Masters/PhD path. The focus is primarily on literary studies, Classics, and history, and all humanities students are welcome. There is no need to be undertaking medieval or Renaissance studies.

The Masterclass will cover: research proposals, interdisciplinary, projects, drafting abstracts, research skills, literature reviews, referencing, journal articles, conference papers, and a creativity workshop.

The morning will consist of a series of talks by Dr Bladen and academics from UWA and PMRG. After lunch, Dr Bladen will lead a creativity workshop.

Light refreshments will be provided. Please register online (free) to allow us to cater for numbers at: https://www.trybooking.com/CQBPL.

You can download a flyer with QR code here.

Thursday 11 April

6.30 pm, Arts Lecture Room 4, UWA

Emeritus Professor Richard Read will present a talk, ‘A Very Long-Distance Contrast: Duccio’s Maestà (1308), Edward Hopper’s Self Portrait (1925–30) and the Emergence of Easel Paintings’.

Binary oppositions are anathema to current academic thinking, but they have their uses. In establishing a detailed contrast between a fourteenth-century, Italian double-sided altarpiece and a twentieth-century American self-portrait, there is no sense of direct historical influence of the former on the latter, and yet through Hopper’s cryptic allusions to the artist-behind-the-canvas tradition made famous by Velázquez’s Las Meninas (1656), it is possible to trace the links by which easel painting emerged from the early modern practice of painting on both sides of panels, which was the norm until the emergence of one-sided paintings on canvas in the Italian Renaissance. The present-day exhibition of Duccio’s Maestà in fragments in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo at Siena encapsulates fundamental changes in viewing practices that accompanied that emergence, and yet vital—if shadowy—continuities can be detected in the conflicting narrative and iconic, private and public meanings embedded in both paintings.

Richard Read is Emeritus Professor and Senior Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia. He wrote the first book on the British psychoanalytic art critic Adrian Stokes, which won a national prize, and has published extensively on the relationship between literature and the visual arts, nineteenth- and twentieth-century art, film, art theory, and complex images in global contexts. In the last four years he has published two books on landscape painting and sensory perception. This lecture is the result of research funded by an ARC Discovery Grant that will form a book on The Reversed Canvas in Western Culture.

You can download a poster here.

Tuesday 14 May

6.30 pm, Arts Lecture Room 4

Dr David Robinson will present a talk, ‘Europe and Africa before Imperialism: EarlyModern Africa and the Forging of the Global Order’

In the Western mind Africa has always been ‘deepest’ and ‘darkest’, with the knowledge of most quickly petering out beyond its shoreline. Dominating stereotypes of Africa often portray African societies as primeval, static, isolated, undeveloped, and unimpactful upon the global order, with the continent being a zone merely of intervention from the surrounding world seeking to either assist its occupants, or to exploit its people and steal its treasures. This presentation will survey key patterns of social development on the African continent, challenging many of these myths by demonstrating the diverse patchwork of societies that developed via the interaction of their indigenous conditions with influences from far afield. For thousands of years African affairs and development were interconnected with those of their neighbouring continents, and Africa would be central in providing motivations and resources for the European Age of Discovery. The presentation will thus culminate in an examination of how the interaction of European and African powers in the Early Modern Period would establish the international dynamics of the transcontinental trade triangles upon which the global order would develop over the coming centuries.

Dr David Robinson has a PhD (History) and Master of International Relations from the University of Western Australia, with a research focus on contemporary history, Great Power conflict and the politics of the developing world. He taught History and Political Science at Edith Cowan University for twelve years, started a transition to secondary education by completing a Master of Teaching (University of New England), but has now settled into a role working for the Government of Western Australia in Aboriginal Heritage. He still retains a strong interest in global history, politics, and African affairs.

You can download a poster here.