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The Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture research cluster (ModCon) is made up of academic staff and students drawn from the Department of English, SLAM, and from other institutional and non-institutional locations. We meet regularly to discuss our research and focus our attention on a selection of readings that form the basis for a conversation about poetics, modernity, and contemporary writing. We are particularly interested in formal questions, in conceptual writing, avant-gardism, experimentalism, radical writing, manifestos, -isms, and in changing critical frameworks for discussing Modernist literature and contemporary writing practices. We also seek to develop intellectual and creative ties with contemporary practitioners of all kinds.

In 2012, ModCon hosted a seminar on poetics convened by postgraduate students Andy Carruthers and Sam Moginie with Melissa Hardie (as co-ordinator of ModCon). In Semester 2, 2013, Associate Professor Kate Lilley, Director of Creative Writing, will be the co-ordinator of ModCon, bringing the cluster into closer contact with the Creative Writing program. As our name suggests, the seminar provides a focused space for critical discussion of the relationship between modernist and contemporary poetry and poetics. We welcome a range of participants invested in thinking about this relationship across a broad range of disciplines, practices, and media. ModCon functions as a pedagogical venue for its members, who teach at various levels and in multiple departments across the University of Sydney. Through our collective engagement we facilitate research-led practice in undergraduate teaching and the strengthening of expertise among postgraduate candidates. With frequent meetings, an online network, and projected activity in publishing, conferencing, and other forms of poetic practice, we aim to create durable intellectual networks alongside the usual scholarly activities of teaching and research.

We live on facebook as ModCon.

ModCon Members

  • Andy Carruthers and Sam Moginie, ModCon convenors 2012 – 2013. Andy Carruthers is a final year doctoral candidate at the University of Sydney writing on Long Poems and Musical Notation. He is also writing a long poem or sequence of long poems called 'tonemes'.
  • Pam Brown is a poet from Sydney. She blogs at The Deletions.
  • Caroline Burns
  • Carissa Chye
  • Melissa Hardie, 2012 ModCon co-ordinator. Melissa Hardie is Senior Lecturer in the English Department, University of Sydney.
  • Toby Fitch is a poet from Sydney. He blogs at Rawshock.
  • Kate Lilley, 2013 ModCon co-ordinator. Kate Lilley is a poet and academic, and Associate Professor in the English Department, University of Sydney
  • Lachlan Mackenzie
  • Liz Pender is an Adjunct Academic at the Centre for Modernism Studies in Australia, UNSW. In 2012 she was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of English, University of Sydney. She is currently revising her Cambridge thesis for publication as The Task of Reading: The Modernist Novel as Critical Subject. Her article, 'Mawkishness, or Literary Art: John Rodker's Adolphe 1920' is forthcoming in Modernism/modernity and her 'Reading Modernism: Mina Loy's Novel Insel' is forthcoming in Parataxis: Modernism and Modern Writing.
  • Chris Rudge
  • Adelaide Sheridan


ModCon enjoys access to the rich collection of modern and contemporary publications held at Fisher Library at the University of Sydney. Fisher has notable holdings in the areas of contemporary Australian and American poetry and poetics, African American literature, Modernist first editions and small press publications. The group's activities help strengthen and build these holdings. ModCon members are also able to access the collections of the Schaeffer Fine Arts Library, with extensive holdings in aesthetic theory, art practice, cinema and screen studies.


Membership, suggestions for future seminars:

General or institutional queries:
[co-ordinator of ModCon]

ModCon maintains an email list but mostly communicates via our Facebook page.
Join here.


Unless otherwise indicated we meet at the Old Teachers' College Room 329 at 4:30pm

Semester 1, 2013

  • Thursday 2 May Lachlan McKenzie on Rosemarie Waldrop
  • Thursday 9 May Aaron Nyerges on Gertrude Stein
  • Thursday 23 May Session lead by Michael Farrell
  • Thursday 6 June "A leg-show dance in a skyscraper: Jon Dos Passos' Manhattan Transfer." Session lead by Alix Baumgartner

Semester 1, 2012

  • March 22 Unoriginalities: Reading Conceptual Poetry (Goldsmith, Perloff)
  • April 4 (5.30 for 6 pm Wednesday, Woolley Common Room) Guest: Rachel Blau DuPlessis
  • April 19 Hope Mirrlees’ Paris: A Poem (1919) + Pam Brown’s American Memories, Melbourne (2009)
  • May 3 John Rodke’s Adolphe 1920 (1929)
  • May 24 Jackson MacLow "Pieces O' Six" (published 1992, begun in 1983), "5 Poems for and from Louis Zukofsky 1 May 1963" (introduced by Andy Carruthers)
  • June 14 Hollis Frampton, Zorn’s Lemma (1970) (Melissa Hardie)

Semester 2, 2012

  • August 29 Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Manifesting Literary Feminism (introduced by Andy Carruthers)
  • September 12 Oodgeroo Noonuccal (introduced by Sam Moginie)
  • October 3 Mina Loy (introduced by Liz Pender)
  • October 17 Diane di Prima and Muriel Rukeyser (introduced by Carolyn Burns)
  • October 31 Frank O'Hara (introduced by Carissa Chye)
  • November 21 Chris Marker double bill: La jetée (1962) and Sans Soleil (1983) (Melissa Hardie)

Teaching related to our interests

ModCon members teach the following units of study


  • ENGL1011 Introduction to Film Studies
  • ENGL2617 Postmodernism
  • ENGL2627 Screening Sexuality
  • ENGL3604 Cinematic Modernism
  • ENGL3655 The Literary in Theory
  • ENGL3616 Contemporary American Literature

Honours / MA seminars

  • Early/Modern and Early Modern Identities (Associate Professor Kate Lilley)
  • American Gothic (Dr Melissa Hardie)
  • Major Movements in Contemporary Poetry
  • Associate Professor Kate Lilley will be Director of Creative Writing from Semester 2, 2013

Recent publications by ModCon members (2011-2013)

Brown, Pam

  • In My Phone. NSW: Picaro Press, 2011.
  • Anyworld. Macau: Flying Island Books, 2012.
  • More than a feuilleton. Adelaide: Little Esther, 2012.
  • Home by Dark. Bristol: Shearsman, 2013.

Carruthers, Andrew

Fitch, Toby

Hardie, Melissa Jane

  • "In Praise of Shallow Viewing." Queer and subjugated knowledges: Generating subversive imaginaries, eds Cristyn Davies and Kerry Robinson. Sharjah: Bentham Publishers, 2012.
  • '"That Man in My Mouth": Editing, Masculinity, and Modernism.' Modernism and Masculinity, eds. Natalya Lusty and Julian Murphet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
  • "The Three Faces of Mad Men: Middlebrow Culture and Quality Television." Cultural Studies Review 18:2, 2012.
  • "The Warehouse of Talent: Fugitive and Hoard in Ashery, Darger and Benjamin." Poetry and the Trace, eds. John Hawkes and Ann Vickery. Sydney: Puncher and Wattman, 2013.
  • "Under the Sign of Schapelle: Passing through Customs." Southerly 72:2, 125-141, 2012.

Lilley, Kate

  • Ladylike. Perth: UWAP, 2012.
  • 'Mediations on Emergent Occasions: Donald Draper and Frank O'Hara in Mad Men Season 2' Cultural Studies Review 18:2, 2012.