Nick Cave performing with The Bad Seeds in Budapest in June. His song lyrics, with those often melancholy, churchy organ chords, are dripping in references to what might be called sacredness.
The enquiry into sacredness is not over, it’s just beginning for the 21st century, and in wildly disparate modes and places. In music, Nick Cave, Hozier and Dr G. Yunupingu have led the way.
Portrait of Marquis de Sade (1740-1814), whose name and writings gave us the term ‘sadism’
In early 20th-century Australia, a series of highly publicised murders of women saw newspapers widely discuss sadism.
Government MPs raise their hands in response to a question from Scott Morrison: our PM emulates a Pentecostal preacher, engaging in the call and response that features in that tradition.
We need a new national narrative, for reasons of diplomacy, trade and social cohesion and to grapple with many global challenges. The humanities and social sciences will be vital in shaping it.
Vincent Copley senior and Vincent Copley junior at Redbanks Conservation Park, Burra, in June, 2018. They are holding Ngadjuri book, with their grandfather and great-grandfather, Barney Waria, on the cover.
Photo: C.J. Taylor, Flinders University.
In the 1940s, the last initiated Ngadjuri man, Barney Waria, gave a series of interviews to anthropologist Ronald Berndt. Almost 80 years later, Waria's grandson wants to share this material with his family.
The majestic White Ibis.
The ibis has become an Australian cultural phenomenon. The birds' tenacity and fearlessness as environmental refugees mean they attract love and hate alike.
S.T. Gill, Kangaroo Hunting, The Death, from his Australian Sketchbook (1865). Colonial hunting clubs were established across Australia in the 1830s and 1840s.
National Library of Australia
In the mid 19th century, kangaroo hunting was a sport. Colonial hunting clubs were established across Australia and everyone from Charles Darwin to Anthony Trollope tried their hand at shooting roos.
Food can serve many functions in crime fiction, from being used directly as a weapon to expressing cultural belonging, gender or class.
Food is an increasingly popular ingredient in crime fiction, serving up insights into the character of the detective hero and adding spice to the mystery.
Peter Coleman-Wright and Merlyn Quaife during a dress rehearsal of Bliss in 2010: it is one of few important local operas over the past three decades to have been staged a second time.
Australian operas have been written about many pressing topics - from the Stolen Generations to the Lindy Chamberlain case - but few have been staged a second time. What is going wrong?
The Meg: Jaws, but considerably larger.
The latest scary shark film, The Meg, opens this week. But fictionalised tales of monster fish blind us to the important role sharks play in maintaining the health of our oceans.
Detail from Little Big Woman: Condescension, Debra Keenahan, 2017.
Designed and made by Debra Keenahan, Photograph by Robert Brindley., Author provided (No reuse)
The female dwarf, disability, and beauty.
The Conversation, CC BY 23.2 MB (download)
For centuries, women with dwarfism were depicted in art as comic or grotesque fairytale beings. But artists are challenging these portrayals and notions of beauty and physical difference.
Detail from Julie Shiels’ 1954 poster White on black: The annihilation of Aboriginal people and their culture cannot be separated from the destruction of nature.
State Library of Victoria
It is 50 years since anthropologist W.E.H. Stanner gave the Boyer Lectures in which he coined the phrase 'the great Australian silence'. How far have we come since?
Zoey Deutch in the film Vampire Academy (2014).
Angry Films, Kintop Pictures, Preger Entertainment
Gothic fiction has become the ideal genre for exploring the grotesque, frightening aspects of coming of age. And disruptive girls with supernatural powers have replaced the passive heroines of old.
Guy Pearce as the Chandleresque private investigator Jack Irish: in the early years of Australian crime fiction, convicts and bushrangers featured prominently.
Australia's rich tradition of crime fiction is little known – early tales told of bushrangers and convicts, one hero was a mining engineer turned amateur detective – but it reveals a range of national myths and fantasies.
Whistling tree frogs, Litoria verreauxii, are one of the species monitored around Canberra for their response to climate change.
Catching the eye/flickr
Climate change can seem far removed from our everyday lives, which is why a citizen science program measuring how frogs are dealing with a warming world is so important.
A curry-themed shoulder bag: ‘Curry’ is a word that no self-respecting subcontinental would own without a thousand caveats attached.
Whether being called 'curry munchers' or pigeonholed as authorities on a dish largely invented by the British, diasporic South Asians are emulsified in a deep pool of curry.
Australia’s cultural obsession with the US and the UK has real impacts on our politics.
Coined in a science-fiction novel in 1995, the Anglosphere has become Australia's cultural (and political) obsession. That leaves us blind to other perspectives.
Australia’s romantic attitude to farming has done untold damage to the land.
The powerful ideological connection between Australia and agriculture is being increasingly scrutinised. A spate of recent books have recast basic assumptions about our relationship to the land.
Surrounded by Angels, by Carl Schweninger der Jungere, 1912.
Notions of heaven have changed through the ages, from an eternity centred on God to a more secular place where loved ones will reunite.
The courts are, or can be, theatres of remorse.
In many legal jurisdictions of the world, including Australia, an offender’s remorse is a mitigating factor at sentencing. And yet how judges evaluate such expressions is unclear.
A sculpture of William Ricketts looms over those of Arrernte and Pitjantjatjara men at the sanctuary in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges.
A mossy sanctuary in Victoria's Dandenong Ranges houses 92 sculptures, mostly of Arrernte and Pitjantjatjara men, women and children. They are steeped in primitivism, yet the park is a popular tourist attraction.