Transcript

Professor Chris Mackie:

I work mainly on Homer, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, which is the earliest work of European literature. I suppose my work aims to identify what kind of epic poetry lies behind the Iliad, what kind of myth lies behind the Iliad, and the way that the poem developed into the poem that we've got today.

Professor Susan Thomas:

Over my career I've worked across a number of areas. Colonial literatures, post-colonial literatures, 19th, 20th, and 21st century women's writing, feminist theory, and theories of cultural and literary decolonisation. I'm particularly interested in the worldliness of texts, their engagement with their cultural and historical moments, and the ways in which we in our time can read the engagements of texts with different cultural and historical moments.

Professor Peta Tait:

The question is what do the creative arts reveal about society. And I research theatre, film, other art forms including circus. And I'm interested in how meaning is communicated. Spoken expression is only one dimension, because humans communicate visually and non-verbally, and actors learn how to control these effects.

Dr Birgit Hellwig:

I'm a linguist, and together with my colleagues at the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology we specialise in the analysis of languages across the world. My own projects focus on the little-described languages of Africa, especially Nigeria and Sudan, and of Papua New Guinea.

Professor Chris Mackie:

We have to imagine that before Homer's Iliad there was a vast corpus of myth, and what I try to do is look at that myth in the Iliad and try to work backwards. And very few people do that.

Professor Susan Thomas:

The depth of the historical research that I do enables me to make new and radical discoveries about particular authors, and about intercultural dynamics.

Professor Peta Thomas:

I work both in theoretical ways and artistic ways, so I'm an academic scholar and a creative writer, and I keep the two quite separate. I really enjoy working with students in both these ways.

Dr Birgit Hellwig:

Human language is incredibly diverse. We estimate there is around 7000 different languages spoken in the world, and study after study reveals new surprising insights about how one language differs from another language.

Professor Chris Mackie:

It's important to study this because Homer is our first work of European literature, it emerged out of the blue in about 700 BCE, and some people would say it's the greatest work of literature ever created, that's the Iliad, and the Odyssey as well, a magnificent work, and they are, in some ways, the foundations of Western civilisation.

Professor Susan Thomas:

I think it's important to study human creativity, its literary and cultural histories, and the capacity of literature to move us and engage us.

Professor Peta Tait:

Performance has been recognised as a central part of how society functions. It reflects society back to itself and it also sets up a social space to try out ideas, to experiment, to test the limits.

Dr Birgit Hellwig:

It's really important to preserve a record of these languages for the speech communities to have them maintain their languages, and for the academic community to be able to understand how human language works.

Professor Chris Mackie:

These works have been studied for, in the case of Homer, about 2700 years and when you identify something that is essentially new, you get a tremendous amount of satisfaction that after all those years you can still identify new things.

Professor Susan Thomas:

I think that through researching literature you come to a more systemic understanding of questions around human creativity, around literature.

Professor Peta Tait:

I also draw on philosophy and in particular Merleau-Ponty's ideas to understand the engagement between a performer and a spectator, and what I would term body-to-body phenomenology.

Professor Chris Mackie:

My name's Chris Mackie and I'm Professor of Greek Studies in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science at La Trobe University.

Professor Susan Thomas:

I'm Sue Thomas, I'm Professor of English in the School of Communication, Arts, and Critical Enquiry at La Trobe University.

Professor Peta Tait:

My name is Peta Tait, Professor of Theatre and Drama, in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University.

Dr Birgit Hellwig:

My name is Birgit Hellwig, I'm an ARC Future Fellow at the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology here at La Trobe University.