Identity Anecdotes: Translation and media culture
Sage, $67 pb, 250 pp
In October 2006, the Australian Literary Review published a list of the forty most influential Australian intellectuals, the results of a peer survey undertaken by the Australian Public Intellectual Network. Meaghan Morris ranked seventh, sharing her berth with Tim Costello and Inga Clendinnen. Leaving aside the problems, exclusions, and biases that attend the compilation of such lists, I was heartened to see Morris’s name in the top ten. Theory and cultural studies have long been demonised outside the academy, and their position within the university system remains subject to sniping. As a writer, critic and editor, Morris’s work over the last two decades has defined Australian cultural studies – indeed, she co-edited Australian Cultural Studies (1993) – and the results of this survey suggest at the very least a reluctant recognition of her contribution to Australian intellectual life. Identity Anecdotes: Translation and Media Culture is neither a defence of cultural studies nor an overview of Morris’s prodigious career. Rather, it is an eclectic collection of essays, written between 1998 and 1999, which are all more or less obliquely concerned with questions of Australian culture and history. It offers a virtuosic demonstration of the capacities of theoretically informed cultural and historical criticism.