Detail from Emily Kam Kngwarray, Anmatyerr people. Yam awely 1995 synthetic polymer paint on canvas 150 x 491 cm National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Gift of the Delmore Collection, Donald and Janet Holt 1995 © Emily Kam Kngwarray.

Friday essay

Friday essay: in defence of beauty in art

Why did this woman, so devoted to her political cause and to her vision of a united France, chose to be burnt at the stake at the age of 19 instead of acquiescing to her judges’ directives?


Essays On Air: Joan of Arc, our one true superhero

Essays On Air: Joan of Arc, our one true superhero. The Conversation22.1 MB (download)
Joan of Arc has been depicted as a national heroine, nationalist symbol, a rebellious heretic and a goodly saint. Forget Wonder Woman and Batman – Jeanne d’Arc may be our one and only true superhero.
Morning Mist Rock Island Bend, Franklin River, Southwest Tasmania. Peter Dombrovskis/ (courtesy Liz Dombrovskis) AAP

Friday essay

Friday essay: how archaeology helped save the Franklin River

The Franklin River campaign is commonly seen as a green victory; a fight for the right of 'wilderness' to exist. But archaeological research revealing the region's deep Aboriginal history was crucial to it.
Detail from Saint Michael and the Demon, a neogothical stained glass window from Saint-Martin de Florac Church. Vassil/Wikimedia Commons


The Vatican, the exorcists and the return of the Devil in a time of enchantment

The Vatican is training priests to recognise and deal with the demonically possessed. This re-emergence of the Devil in popular Western culture is part of a new engagement with an enchanted world.
Heavy metal concert fans: there are striking differences in the emotional responses of fans and non-fans of death metal. Parth Joshi/flickr

Music and psychology

Death metal is often violent and misogynist yet it brings joy and empowerment to fans

For non-fans, listening to death metal is a negative experience. But research has found the music has the opposite effect on fans, giving rise to positive experiences such as power, joy and peace.
A fragment of a wall painting showing two lovers in bed from the House of L Caecilius Jucundus in Pompeii, now at Naples National Archaeological Museum. Wikimedia Commons

Friday essay

Friday essay: the erotic art of Ancient Greece and Rome

From phallus-shaped wind chimes to explicit erotica on lamps and cups, sex is everywhere in ancient Greek and Roman art. But our interpretations of these images say much about our own culture.
Marchers at the 1978 Mardi Gras parade. Sally Colechin/The Pride History Group


Essays On Air: On the Sydney Mardi Gras march of 1978

On the Sydney Mardi Gras march of 1978. The Conversation, CC BY31.7 MB (download)
On a cold Saturday night in Sydney on June 24, 1978, a number of gay men, lesbians and transgender people marched into the pages of Australian social history. I was one of them.
Detail of ‘Smell’ c1500, from The lady and the unicorn series. wool and silk, 368 x 322 cm Musée de Cluny – Musée national du Moyen Âge, Paris Photo © RMN-GP / M Urtado


Explainer: the symbolism of The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry cycle

The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, woven around 1500, have been called the 'Mona Lisa of the Middle Ages'. While they make for breathtaking viewing, their threads are encoded with much meaning.
An echidna in the Western Granites at Jam Tree Gully. John Kinsella

Friday essay

Friday essay: species sightings

On his bush block in the WA wheatbelt, poet John Kinsella attempts habitat restoration and reflects on the responsibilities of the writer as a witness to species loss.

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