Arts & Culture

How Beethoven’s ‘mistake’ became one of our most famous tunes

Without question, the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony contains one of the most famous tunes ever written. Scott Davie The Conversation Since its first performance in 1824, the “Ode to Joy” has been repurposed in endless ways, both reverential and exploitative, from performances at the Berlin Wall to its use in tawdry advertising. This final movement, which combines voices and orchestra, is based on Friedrich Schiller’s 1786 poem extolling a humanist theme of universal joy. Beethoven started sketching ideas ... Read More »

Provocative, political, speculative: your guide to the 2018 Stella shortlist

Six years ago, The Stella Prize burst onto the Australian literary scene with an air of urgency. The A$50,000 award was the progeny of the Stella Count – a campaign highlighting the under-representation of women authors in book reviews and awards lists. Camilla Nelson The Conversation In the years since, the prize has challenged the gendered ways in which we think about “significance” and “seriousness” in literature. Judging a literary award is invariably a contest of aesthetics and politics. And ... Read More »

Folau’s free speech under attack

Israel Folau’s tweet that gays will go to hell “unless they repent of their sins and turn to God” is causing a storm in the Twittersphere with critics accusing the Australian rugby player of being insensitive and homophobic. Brisbane Times Kevin Donnelly Such is the adverse reaction that Rugby Australia has scheduled a meeting with Folau later today in an attempt to limit the adverse fallout. And the latest controversy follows Folau’s statement last year that marriage should only ever ... Read More »

Fifteen years after looting, thousands of artefacts are still missing from Iraq’s national museum

On April 10 2003, the first looters broke into the National Museum of Iraq. Staff had vacated two days earlier, ahead of the advance of US forces on Baghdad. Craig Barker The Conversation The museum was effectively ransacked for the next 36 hours until employees returned. While the staff – showing enormous bravery and foresight – had removed and safely stored 8,366 artefacts before the looting, some 15,000 objects were taken during that 36 hours. While 7,000 items have been ... Read More »

Leading human rights barrister Julian Burnside examines asylum seeker policies worldwide

World Premiere of Border Politics The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival will screen the world premiere of Border Politics on 15 May in Melbourne. Border Politics follows human rights barrister Julian Burnside as he crosses the globe to examine the treatment of refugees. Georgia Rowles. Pic: James Dryburgh Tasmanian Times The documentary highlights refugee and asylum seeker policies enforced in developed countries. Julian Burnside compares the attitudes of these countries to demonstrate the role political leadership plays in refugee ... Read More »

Number of teachers fired from public schools on the rise

Teachers are being dismissed for being inefficient at their job at nearly three times the rate of previous years, and sexual misconduct remains one of the top reasons teachers are sacked. Pallavi Singhal Nigel Gladstone WAtoday Last year, 11 teachers in NSW government schools were dismissed or allowed to resign following proven allegations of sexual misconduct with students, and two were dismissed for sexual misconduct which didn’t involve students, including a… Four teachers were also sacked for offences related to ... Read More »

The plight of Rohingya women

As the minority Rohingya people flee persecution in Myanmar, none face greater hardship and suffering than Rohingya women. By Imran Mohammad. The Saturday Paper I write this as a Rohingya man, a refugee, looking at an unacknowledged reality in the upheaval of my people. The majority of Rohingya women have never had the opportunity to express themselves. It is like their lives begin and end inside four walls. They can be made to commit to a virtual stranger in an ... Read More »

The Stella Prize 2018 shortlist continues to shake up the Australian literary landscape

In 2011 at an International Women’s Day event in Melbourne, the panel of female authors, publishers and literary journalists noted that over the entirety of its 55-year run, only 10 women had been awarded the Miles Franklin, widely considered to be Australia’s most prestigious… Patrick Carey ABC It seemed especially ironic given that Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin, who wrote under her last two names as means of obscuring her gender, is generally thought of as Australia’s first great… Rather ... Read More »

German politicians invest in opera when seeking re-election – here’s why

In virtually all rich democracies, governments subsidise expensive highbrow culture, such as theatre and opera. And they hire artists to work for these theatres and operas as public employees. Pieter Vanhuysse The Conversation At first sight, this might seem to pose a puzzle. After all, highbrow culture is elitist. And it seems electorally irrelevant. Parties don’t really compete on culture in elections. It’s unlikely that hiring artists to turn them into grateful voters (patronage) makes electoral sense. Even if it ... Read More »

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

A life in pictures Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the anti-apartheid activist and former wife of Nelson Mandela, has died. The Guardian During her husband’s incarceration, she campaigned tirelessly for his release and the rights of black South Africans. She later became a controversial figure in South African politics due to allegations of corruption and involvement in acts of brutality. Matt Fidler Read More »

Making drama out of the refugee crisis

Films about Europe’s migrant crisis run the risk of being artful and exploitative. Now directors are seeking to redress the balance Charlie Phillips The Guardian The release in cinemas next month of young British film-maker Orban Wallace’s Another News Story provides an opportunity to reflect on how documentaries have covered the European migrant crisis since it came to widespread attention in 2015. Wallace’s brilliant film turns the camera on the news crews and film-makers who have spent the past three years waiting on harbours, cliffs ... Read More »

Where the Brownshirts Came From

Book review: Hitler’s stormtroopers were more representative of German society and politically relevant for longer than previous historians acknowledged. James H. Barnett The Weekly Standard The key to reading history of Nazi Germany, a wise professor once explained to me, is to attempt to understand the logic and mentality of those who embraced the Nazi movement without ever losing sight of what an ultimately absurd and fundamentally evil project theirs… This is the approach readers must bring to Daniel Siemens’s Stormtroopers: ... Read More »

Meg Wolitzer’s New Novel Takes On the Politics of Women’s Mentorship

It will be tempting for most critics to approach “The Female Persuasion” through the lens of the current political climate — perhaps nigh impossible for them not to. Lena Dunham The New York Times Meg Wolitzer’s 12th novel begins with a campus assault that leads to a protest that leads to an intergenerational feminist debate that takes a turn for the toxic. It’s as if a healthy portion of the Twittersphere were aggregated, swallowed and spit back out as the ... Read More »

Cheating at cricket just one of the unthinkable things Aussies do now

I can’t see why people are so shocked to discover our cricketers have been cheating. Surely that’s only to be expected in a nation that’s drifted so far from our earlier commitment to decency, mateship and the fair go. Ross Gittins The Sydney Morning Herald Such behaviour is unAustralian? We do, or condone, many things that used to be thought of as unAustralian. There was a time when it would have been unthinkable for Australians to stand by while an ... Read More »

Truth, Power, and the Academy: A Response to Hal Brands

Academic expertise should guide U.S. foreign policy. Unfortunately, it does not really work that way. John Glaser War On The Rocks On a host of issues, there is an enormous gap between scholarship on international relations and the policy consensus in Washington. The United States persistently pursues foreign strategies that run contrary to the policy implications of the academic consensus. And on questions that are hotly debated in academia, Washington displays inviolable bipartisan unity. Hal Brands addressed the gap in ... Read More »

Australia’s real leadership failures are in politics, not cricket

Where’s the national outrage over a terrified boy being abandoned to violent despair by our political leaders? Van Badham The Guardian Australian cricketer Cameron Bancroft has been caught on video shoving some yellow sticky tape into his underpants. Fortunately – or unfortunately – there was a cricket match in play at the time. The image of him shoving sticky tape into his underpants was broadcast live to the crowd at the Newlands ground in South Africa, and they booed. “I ... Read More »