Accessibility Tools

  • Content scaling 100%
  • Font size 100%
  • Line height 100%
  • Letter spacing 100%

Robert Phiddian

Robert Phiddian

Robert Phiddian teaches literature at Flinders University and is specially interested in political satire, parody, and humour. He researches political satire, including current Australian political cartoons, with Haydon Manning. He is Chair of the Adelaide Festival of Ideas, and has a particular interest in the quality of public language and in writers’ festivals. He is also Director of the Australasian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres.

Robert Phiddian reviews 'Speaking of Universities' by Stefan Collini

September 2017, no. 394 30 August 2017
It stands to reason, apparently, that universities are inefficient creatures that need ever more market discipline and corporate responsiveness to fulfil their potential. After all, what is education but an industry, and British industry is plainly more successful than British universities. Or perhaps not. Stefan Collini points acerbically to the fact that British industry (with its mixed record) ... (read more)

Robert Phiddian reviews 'An Essay on Man' by Alexander Pope, edited by Tom Jones

December 2016, no. 387 30 November 2016
For the novice, Alexander Pope’s couplets can seem a numbing wilderness of equipoise – rhyme balanced against rhyme, half lines balanced around the caesura, regular iambs marching on to the end of pentametrical time (alternatively ‘to the edge of doom’). With a bit of experience as a reader, however, it is the wrought tension of Pope’s couplets that fascinates. The balance is only ever p ... (read more)

Robert Phiddian reviews 'Jonathan Swift: His life and his world' by Leo Damrosch

May 2014, no. 361 30 April 2014
Twelve years after Swift’s death, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu showed a visitor to her house in Venice a commode lined with books by Pope, Bolingbroke, and Swift. This, she explained, ‘gave her the satisfaction of shitting on them every day’. We still don’t know exactly what it was that caused her to fall out with Swift, Pope, and their friends in the 1720s, but there’s no questioning the e ... (read more)

Robert Phiddian reviews 'Taking Stock' edited by Mark Finnane and Ian Donaldson

June 2013, no. 352 27 May 2013
This is a highly intelligent collection of essays by some of the nation’s finest minds about the ebb and flow of intellectual endeavour in the humanities since the institution of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1969. In the thirty-one essays – built around keynotes, panels, and responses – there are too many gems among them for me to be willing to pick out individual contribution ... (read more)

Robert Phiddian reviews 'Bad News: Murdoch’s Australian and the Shaping of the Nation' (Quarterly Essay 43) by Robert Manne

November 2011, no. 336 25 October 2011
Were I Editor in Chief of The Australian for a day, the first thing I would do is can the ‘Cut and Paste’ section on the Letters page. Its schoolyard bullying of the fools and knaves idiotic enough to oppose the paper’s line – usual suspects include Fairfax journalists, the ABC, Greens politicians, Tim Flannery, and Robert Manne – lies at the heart of what stops The Australian from ... (read more)
Page 2 of 2