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The Cinema of Attractions (film essay)

Posted on June 30, 2013 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (147)

During the early stages of film production, audiences demonstrated a fascination with moving pictures, now referred to as the “cinema of attractions”. This period emphasised visual spectacle and unique imagery, over narrative structure (Gunning). The first film-makers were more aware of their audience, and were creating images of fantasy and exoticism, specifically for them to see. After 1910, however, film theorists observed a decisive shift towards theatrical storyte...

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The Russo-Japanese War (hist essay)

Posted on May 18, 2013 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (0)

The political and military strategies of the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905) demonstrate an adherence to Carl von Clausewitz’s principles of war, particularly his arguments regarding the influence of policy. Clausewitz writes that war is merely the “continuation of policy by other means”, a political instrument, wielded by the state, to fulfil its objectives. Those objectives may include the acquisition of land or resources, the expansion of its economic o...

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The Battle of Vienna (hist essay)

Posted on April 17, 2013 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (2)

By the morning of September 12, 1683, 150,000 Turks had laid siege to the city of Vienna. They had captured their outer fortifications, and were tunnelling beneath the inner walls. Deep trenches had been built to shield the Turkish lines from Viennese archers, and the invading soldiers were now assaulting the city gates with cannon fire. But there was also a separate, subterranean battle being fought. Turkish sappers were attempting to burrow beneath the city walls, and detonate explosi...

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Youth Subcultures (soc essay)

Posted on March 24, 2013 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (145)

According to Nilan, Julian, and Germov (2007), a subculture is a group of people who represent lifestyles and “modes of meaning” alternate or subordinate to the dominant culture. Members of a subculture will express themselves in opposition, or as outsiders, to the established societal structure. Indeed, they may define themselves in defiance to positions of authority, and work actively to undermine the state. More often, however, a subculture defines itself as a group of p...

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Caleb & Sweeney Todd (lit/film essay)

Posted on February 25, 2013 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)

The gothic sublime defines itself in contrast with romanticism, particularly in its exploration of human psychology, criminality and madness. While the romantics associated the sublime experience with external forces of nature and divinity, gothic artists turned their gaze inwards, to the “tangled labyrinth of dreams”. Vijay Mishra writes that Gothicism represents a regression from the “soaring grandness” of Burkean sublimity, and into the deep chasm of fear and ...

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The Tell-Tale Heart (lit essay)

Posted on February 24, 2013 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (1)

The Tell-Tale Heart (Edgar Allan Poe, 1843) is a short story with elements of horror and suspense. While the tale depicts a grisly murder, the horror comes from the twisted psychology of the killer, and the cold, meticulous process of his deed. Poe’s story represents a new kind of genre that emerged during the Victorian era – the detective story. While very similar to a Gothic tale, this piece focuses on a crime (a murder), a criminal’s inner psycho...

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Watchmen & The Tyger (lit essay)

Posted on February 12, 2013 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Watchmen (1987) is a twelve-issue comic series, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons. It depicts an alternate history of the world in which superheroes began emerging in the 1940s and 50s, and aided the United States government during the Cold War. The series itself is set during the 1980s, after the Watchmen have been outlawed and disbanded by a totalitarian American government, and the nation readies itself for nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Moore contrasts...

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The Lamb was Bleating Softly (lit essay)

Posted on February 9, 2013 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

The Lamb was Bleating Softly (Juan Ramon Jimenez) conveys the arrival of an extraordinary (perhaps divine) presence into a rural landscape. The poem opens with the farm animals being stirred awake by “His” appearance. They are excited, and this anticipation is communicated aurally, as the narrator him/herself is roused by the commotion. The fact that the animals sense His coming first may suggest a communion with nature that is simply weaker in humans. The open...

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Dawn After the Wreck (lit essay)

Posted on February 7, 2013 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (1)

This painting (by Joseph Mallord WilliamTurner) portrays the elements of land, sea and sky, and a lone dog, gazing upwards. The colours seem to bleed into each other, making it difficult to determine where the water ends and the sand begins. It is also unclear whether the sun is rising or setting, or whether the tide is ebbing or flowing, leaving the entire scene in a state of flux. The twilit sky is reflected by the wet sands, giving the picture a mirrored feel, and drawing the viewer...

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Paradise Lost (lit essay)

Posted on January 31, 2013 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

The object of Paradise Lost (1667), as John Milton declares in the opening passages, is to learn why Adam and Eve tasted the Fruit of Knowledge, and who or what seduced them into disobedience against God. He also wants to understand the reason for God’s plan, and to justify his decision to expel the fallen angels, and human beings, from Heaven.


The character Satan is initially in despair over how far he has fallen, not just the physical fall from He...

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The Prelude (lit essay)

Posted on January 30, 2013 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Lines 356–400 of The Prelude (Wordsworth, 1850) explore the notion of guilt in a young boy. Wordsworth recounts the finding of a little boat. He argues that it was Nature herself that lead him to the vessel. The environment has taken on a voice of its own, and the boy is letting himself be guided and swayed by the forest and the river. On the other hand, perhaps the boy is very much in control, and is using the still canvas of nature to pour out his own whims and desires. A...

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Book of Thel (lit essay)

Posted on January 17, 2013 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (0)

The Book of Thel (Blake, 1789) suggests that you cannot know life until you experience it for yourself. The maiden Thel is fascinated by what the future holds for her. She asks four different individuals, at different stages of maturity, for answers. However, none of their advice prepares her for the reality of life, with all of its torment and heartbreak. The sublime experience of the “hollow pit” cannot be understood at an intellectual or academic level. It had to b...

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Moral Panic and the War on Drugs (soc essay)

Posted on January 12, 2013 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Throughout the twentieth century, drug use has undergone cycles of intense public scrutiny and concern. From the 1960s onwards, the media and legislators have focused on specific drugs as representations of the wider cultural and moral decay of youth demographics. These intense, often exaggerated, reactions to drug culture mark a moral panic that was drawn to boiling point during the 1980s and has sustained itself through negative public opinion well into the 2000s. America&#...

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The Exorcist & The Silence of the Lambs (film essay)

Posted on November 2, 2012 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Horror films often portray images of intense violence and gore. This filmic technique is not unique to the genre of course, as action films, thrillers, and especially war dramas also depict scenes of violence. However, in those cases, the violence is contextual. The threat applies to the characters in the film, and works more as a plot device than a subject of examination. In horror films, the violence is universal. It reaches past the screen, and affects the audience members viscerally...

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Cultural Cringe in Australia (soc essay)

Posted on October 28, 2012 at 7:10 AM Comments comments (0)

The term “cultural cringe” was first used in 1950, by the Melbourne critic Arthur Phillips, and refers to the ingrained feelings of inferiority felt by local intellectuals, writers and musicians. Phillips pointed out that the public widely assumed that anything produced by Australian artists was inherently deficient, when compared to British and European works. He argued that the only way local art professionals could gain public esteem was by travelling overseas and receivi...

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Bronson (film essay)

Posted on October 18, 2012 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Voyeurism in the “True Crime” Narrative

Charlie Bronson, “Britain’s most violent prisoner”, has spent 38 years beyond bars, most of it restricted to solitary confinement. Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2008 film is a dramatic recounting of Bronson’s life, and an example of the “true crime” narrative. True crime texts are generally inspired by media headlines, which reflect press and public obsessions with v...

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The Maralinga Nuclear Tests (hist essay)

Posted on October 1, 2012 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (3)

Maralinga is a remote desert area of western South Australia. It is the home and hunting grounds of the Tjarutja people, who had lived in the region for thousands of years. In the 1950s, however, the Australian government granted the United Kingdom access to the area, so that their scientists could test nuclear devices and atomic weaponry. Fatefully, the name Maralinga translates into “Fields of Thunder”, which is exactly what the Tjarutja people witnessed on 27 September 19...

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The Mabo Decision (hist essay)

Posted on September 10, 2012 at 10:30 PM Comments comments (1026)

In 1992, the High Court of Australia rejected the notion of terra nullius, and legally recognised the occupation of Indigenous People’s before and during the process of British colonisation. It was the first time, in the eyes of the law, that Aboriginal people had been acknowledged as the traditional custodians of the land. The ruling introduced the concept of native title, which is the recognition that “some Indigenous people have rights and interests to their land th...

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Night of the Living Dead (film essay)

Posted on August 13, 2012 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (1)

When Night of the Living Dead (Romero 1968) was first released, American society was in a state of cultural and racial conflict. It was fighting two wars – the war from within and the war from without. One was being fought amongst its own people, expressed through the racial clashes between black and white Americans. The other war was being fought in the far away jungles of Vietnam, against the faceless, nameless enemy dwelling in the shadows.



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Indigenous Education (soc essay)

Posted on July 13, 2012 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (26)

Education is one of the most important elements of Indigenous self-determination and cultural integrity, and yet it is also the institution most in need of reform. Nationwide, Indigenous students achieve consistently poorer results than their non-Indigenous counterparts. The problems that Aboriginal students face at secondary and tertiary levels of study are systematic, as well as psychological. Indigenous education is plagued by systemic bias and structural violence, as well as a perva...

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