The Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture (MACLAC) research cluster operates between the Departments of English and of Gender and Cultural Studies. It is made up of academic staff and students from all levels, drawn together by a shared preoccupation with the development of literature and culture from the fin-de-siècle through modernism and into our lived present.

MACLAC is designed to stimulate the intellectual interests of all members, who represent a major concentration of expertise on literary and cultural issues from this century and the last. The members of MACLAC publish academic books and articles in high quality venues, address national and international conferences, and secure competitive grants and fellowships.

MACLAC also functions as a pedagogical resource for its members, who teach at various levels and in multiple departments across the University of Sydney. Through collective engagement with the latest research, MACLAC members ensure the ongoing invigoration of teaching materials and the dissemination of fresh ideas.

With frequent meetings, an online network, and the discussion of current projects, we consolidate our considerable strengths and seek to create durable intellectual networks at home and abroad.

A short selection of research topics currently being pursued (individually or collaboratively) by members:

  • The Avant-Garde in Literature and Cinema
  • Cinematic Events: Dreyer, Godard, Tarkovsky
  • Literary Production under States of Exception
  • Encyclopedic American Fiction?
  • Cinematic visions of California
  • Joyce and Heidegger's ecstatic temporality of Dasein
  • Autothanatographic traces in Derrida and Rousseau
  • The Litter and the Letter
  • William Gibson and Digital Culture
  • Influence and Ethics in Maurice Blanchot and Georges Bataille
  • True crime and the avant-garde

Please contact us

Please contact the MACLAC conveners – Melissa Hardie and Mark Steven – if you would like to learn more, and even potentially join this exciting research cluster at the University of Sydney. Whether you are an established academic researcher, a postdoctoral or early career researcher, or interested in pursuing graduate or Honours work in any field falling under our general rubric, we want to hear from you.

Featured MACLAC Member

Sarah Gleeson-White
Department of English

Current Projects
Current work focuses on Faulkner as a Hollywood screenwriter:

  1. Faulkner at Twentieth Century-Fox. He worked on six properties in collaboration with other "reputations": Daryl Zanuck, John Ford, Howard Hawks, Nunnally Johnson, Joel Sayre and Lamar Trotti.
  2. Two Faulkner screenplays: "Sutter's Gold" – in particular, its relationship to Absalom, Absalom!
  3. "Drums Along the Mohawk", in the context of narratives of the American Revolution.

I am also starting to think about literary regionalism and cosmopolitanism, in particular the place of regionalism as American Studies goes global. The US South is my exemplary region.

Research Interests

  • Modern US literature
  • US South
  • Faulkner as screenwriter
  • The Hollywood screenplay
  • Literary regionalism
  • The 1930s
Strange Bodies Cover

"William Faulkner, Screenwriter: 'Sutter's Gold' and 'Drums Along the Mohawk'."

"Go Down, Moses: An American Frontier Narrative"

"A Peculiarly Southern Form of Ugliness: Welty, McCullers, O’Connor"

"Revisiting the Southern Grotesque: McCullers and Bakhtin"


MACLAC enjoys privileged access to perhaps Australia's richest pool of research materials in the area of modern and contemporary literary studies. The Fisher Library at the University of Sydney is second to none in its range of on-line and printed resources. Its collections and databases are too numerous to mention in full, but a tiny sample would include:

  • Extensive audio-visual holdings;
  • An outstanding interlibrary loan service to access rare materials housed overseas;
  • Oxford Reference Online;
  • JSTOR, Project Muse and the Web of Knowledge databases;
  • The American Poetry Full Text database;
  • Comprehensive facsimile manuscript editions of the works of many major modern authors, including William Faulkner and James Joyce.


MACLAC meets monthly in the Rogers Room, John Woolley Building (A20), University of Sydney, on the first Friday of each month from 3:00pm. There is no membership fee apart from self-motivation and enthusiasm. We meet generally for an hour and a half, and among other things tend to do the following:

  • Announcements of conferences, research groups and seminars nationally and internationally;
  • Research news, funds, tactics, timing: what's coming up, where and when;
  • Forum on research discoveries, problems and queries;
  • Sharing of good research resources and habits;
  • Ongoing construction of collective bibliographic database on the best work in the field, divided by section (eg, "Bloomsbury", "hypertext", "literature of the city", etc.);
  • Advice regarding journal submissions, good places for publishing;
  • Sharing of drafts: collaborative support (occasional group reading of work in draft form);
  • Essay and book recycling: don't throw that photocopy or unused book out, bring it to a central storage facility for use by others;
  • Discussion of a critical text, most often a new one, in every session, distributed in advance;
  • Trial of conference papers (occasional opportunity to rehearse or clear issues on an upcoming conference paper).

These activities foster some very positive outcomes, such as the construction of ongoing research collaborations, a high-quality process of peer review, the offering of opportunities to members to enhance their research methods and skills, a supportive and collegial environment for the airing of difficulties and problems in research, and the triggering of significant new research initiatives.

Teaching commitments

MACLAC members are engaged in teaching a wide array of related units of study at the University of Sydney:

  • ENGL1015 Inventing Modernity
  • ENGL1025 Fiction, Film and Power
  • ENGL2603 American Literature: Imagining America
  • ENGL2613 Literature and Politics
  • ENGL2617 Postmodernism
  • ENGL2623 Twentieth Century Literature: Modernism
  • ENGL2627 Reading Sexuality
  • ENGL2635 Contemporary American Literature
  • ENGL2638 Literature and Cinema
  • ENGL2650 Reading Poetry
  • ENGL2652 Modern Rhetoric
  • ENGL3601 Modern and Contemporary English Studies
  • ENGL3603 Contemporary British Literature
  • ENGL3604 Cinematic Modernism
  • ENGL3611 English Language and Literary Theory A
  • ENGL4101 Modern Epic
  • ENGL4102 American Gothic
  • ENGL6901 Fiction Workshop
  • ENGL6904 Advanced Fiction Workshop
  • ENGL6969 Screenwriters at Work