Arts + Culture – Articles, Analysis, Comment

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Ongoing controversy around wild horses in Australia encompasses debate about their impact and their cultural meaning, argues Michael Adams. Marcella Cheng/The Conversation NY-BD-CC

Essays On Air: The cultural meanings of wild horses

The cultural meanings of wild horses. The Conversation18.6 MB (download)
Today's episode of Essays On Air explores how humans have related to horses over time and across the world, and asks: is it time to rethink how we 'manage' brumbies in the wild?
An illustration from a 1914 edition of Anna Karenina. Zahar Pichugin/Shutterstock.com

Guide to the Classics: Anna Karenina

Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is often acclaimed as the best novel ever written. The enthralling narrative explores love and family through intertwining plot lines, with Anna and her desire at the centre.
The painting Group of Natives of Tasmania, 1859, by Robert Dowling. Wikimedia

Explainer: the evidence for the Tasmanian genocide

That colonial wars were fought in Tasmania is irrefutable. More controversially, surviving evidence suggests the British enacted genocidal policies against the Tasmanian Aboriginal people.
It is commonly thought that anyone in ancient Rome who killed his father, mother, or another relative was subjected to the ‘punishment of the sack’. But is this true? Creative Commons

Mythbusting Ancient Rome: cruel and unusual punishment

From being thrown off a cliff to being sewn into a sack with animals, ancient Rome is notorious for its cruel and unusual punishments. But we must be careful what we take as historical fact.
A central convention of Greek mythological narratives called katabasis, the hero’s journey to the underworld or land of the dead. Marcella Cheng/The Conversation NY-BD-CC

Essays On Air: Journeys to the underworld – Greek myth, film and American anxiety

Journeys to the Underworld – Greek myth, film and American anxiety. The Conversation36.9 MB (download)
Our new podcast, Essays On Air, features the most beautiful writing from Australian researchers. Today, classics expert Paul Salmond explores how modern cinema directors borrow from Greek legends.
Our first episode is from Paul Salmond, an expert on the Classics and Ancient History at La Trobe University, reading his essay ‘Journeys to the underworld – Greek myth, film and American anxiety’. Wes Mountain CC-BY-ND

Essays On Air: a new podcast from The Conversation bringing the best writing to you

Essays On Air 01: Introducing Essays On Air.
The Conversation is launching a new podcast, Essays On Air. It's the audio version of our Friday essays, where we bring you the best and most beautiful writing from Australian researchers.
Happy Christmas Ethiopia: this photo was part of a Christmas card sent to Germaine Greer from the Diverse Productions film crew who worked with Greer on her 1985 documentary Diverse Reports: Ethiopia. Photograph: Colin Skinner, reproduced with permission. University of Melbourne Archives, Germaine Greer Archive, 2014.0054.00156. Copyright: Colin Skinner.

Why it’s time to acknowledge Germaine Greer, journalist

One of the least recognised aspects of Germaine Greer’s professional life is her international career as a journalist. It spans reportage in Vietnam and Ethiopia and interviews with figures such as Primo Levi.
Rabaul is famous for its twin volcanoes, which erupted simultaneously in 1994. Unknown photographer Image supplied by David Bridie and Gideon Kakabin

The A Bit na Ta exhibition reminds us of our forgotten links to Papua New Guinea

An exhibition at the Melbourne Museum tells the history of colonialism in East New Britain, PNG, from the perspective of the local people. This is history from the ground up, told through film, art and music.
Installation view of Kelly Doley’s Things Learnt About Feminism #1–95 2014: a Day-Glo wall of wisdoms, homilies and histories. Collection: Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art, University of Western Australia Photograph: Robert Frith - Acorn Studios

A riotous, often ribald exploration of feminism’s unfinished business

A collaborative Melbourne exhibition traces the concerns of women since the 1970s.
The Roman weekday ‘dies Veneris’ was named after the planet Venus, which in turn took its name from Venus, goddess of love. Detail from Venus and Mars, Botticelli, tempera on panel (c1483). Wikimedia Commons

Explainer: the gods behind the days of the week

The origins of our days of the week lie with the Romans. Three are named for planets, the other four gods.
Taylor Mac sacrificed the audience in a ‘Radical Faerie realness ritual’. Fortunately we survived. Melbourne Festival

How our arts critics saw 2017

2017 gave us a blockbuster female superhero, radical faerie realness rituals, and the 'frenetic flapping of male genitalia'. Here's what our arts critics made of all that.