From Pericles to Trump, a good speech has been an integral part of the democratic process. William Chew/Flickr

Speechmaking

In an age of rhetoric, Australian politics is missing the American flair

Australian politicians – unlike their American counterparts – have largely abandoned the art of stirring speeches. Good rhetoric doesn't equal good policy, but at least it's evidence of imaginative thinking.
Lionel Shriver in 2014: her keynote address at the Brisbane Writers Festival on cultural appropriation has unleashed a torrent of opinion. Dean Lewins/AAP

Writing

Lionel Shriver and the responsibilities of fiction writers

Lionel Shriver's controversial speech about cultural appropriation has made headlines around the world. But the debate need not be a binary one – novelists might approach characters from other cultures as 'thoughtful tourists'.
One of the most famous attempted rapes in literature: the nymph Daphne turns into a tree to escape the god Apollo. Apollo chasing Daphne, Cornelis de Vos, 1630.

Guide to the classics

Guide to the classics: Ovid’s Metamorphoses and reading rape

There are calls for Ovid's Metamorphoses to be taught with a trigger warning. This 15-book epic is a rollercoaster of a read, with moments of both delicious joy and abject depravity. Like much great art, it was not created to please.
Seventy real horses mixed with the fake to create the chaos of battle. Iloura

Television

How Game of Thrones' Emmy-award-winning battle scene was made

An Australian VFX company has won an Emmy for its work on season six of Game of Thrones. Over eight months a team of 120 pulled out every trick in the book to create the visceral 'Battle of the Bastards'.
We need women to participate equally in science fiction’s conversations about humanity’s future. MsSaraKelly

Friday essay

Friday essay: science fiction’s women problem

Science fiction is a popular and lucrative genre – but most authors are men and relatable female characters are sadly lacking. Given this entrenched sexism, it's time for publishers to take affirmative action.
Summer in the you beaut country, John Olsen, 1962. Courtesy National Gallery Victoria, © John Olsen

Art

Here’s looking at: John Olsen, Summer in the You Beaut Country, 1962

A yellow line becomes a blistering ray of sunlight in Summer in the You Beaut Country. John Olsen's paintings, often described as 'quintessentially Australian', teem with life.
Elioth Gruner Spring Frost 1919: one of the paintings included in the gallery’s program. Art Gallery of New South Wales Gift of F G White 1939

Art

Finding momentary pleasure: how viewing art can help people with dementia

A new study shows that looking at paintings can bring pleasure to people living with dementia, affecting their wellbeing even after the memory of the event has gone.
Refugee artist Eaten Fish has attracted international attention for his powerful cartoons of life on Manus Island. © Eaten Fish/Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites

Cartooning

The tragedy of Eaten Fish, the award-winning cartoonist on Manus Island

A young Iranian detained on Manus Island has won a prestigious international award for his cartoons reflecting life there. Our government should allow this young man to fly to the US to accept his award.
A doll lies in the ghost town of Pripyat, abandoned since the nearby Chernobyl power plant suffered a catastrophic meltdown in 1986. Henrik Ismarker/Flickr

Testimony

Friday essay: Svetlana Alexeviech didn’t make it to the Royal Commission

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse has documented heart-rending testimonies and elicited shattering revelations. But how does a society witness itself failing at its most fundamental duty?
Mike Parr’s performance work ‘Jackson Pollock the female’ is part homage and part sabotage. National Gallery of Australia

Art

Here’s looking at: Mike Parr’s Jackson Pollock the Female

Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles is one of Australia's most famous cultural acquisitions. When Mike Parr lay supine before it, streaked with his own blood, he offered a new way of looking at the act of painting.

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