Meaghan Morris: Cultural Historian

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Chris Healy


Meaghan Morris was celebrated at the Meaghan Morris Festival as a mentor, a cultural theorist, a much-loved colleague, a lecturer, a polemicist and a stirrer, a teacher, an internationalist, a translator and much else besides. Here, I want to add to that chorus by making a very specific case: that Meaghan Morris is the most significant and innovative living Australian cultural historian. This characterisation is, in part, rooted in my own investments in work at the intersections of cultural studies and cultural history but it is of much greater significance. An influential contemporary characterisation of cultural studies is that it was a boomer reaction to existing disciplinary constraints, a manifestation of anti-canonical impulses that choose instead to celebrate marginality while at the same time making an innovative case for the ways in which culture matters. It follows that if, today, academic disciplines in the social sciences and humanities have become highly flexible (rather than canonical) and maintained their institutional hegemony while simultaneously becoming irrelevant to much knowledge-work and that, today, margins and mainstreams seem like next-to-useless terms to describe cultural topographies or flows and that, today, culture matters nowhere so much as the rapacious industries of media cultures, then perhaps the moment of cultural studies seems of historical interest only.1

Article Details

The Meaghan Morris Festival
Author Biography

Chris Healy, University of Melbourne

Chris Healy teaches cultural studies at the University of Melbourne. His publications include 'Forgetting Aborigines' (2008) and 'Assembling Culture' (co-edited with Tony Bennett, 2011).