Associate Professor Ann Elias

BA MA(Hons) PhD (Auck)
Associate Professor, History and Theory of Contemporary Global Art, Department of Art History

A26 - R.C. Mills Building
The University of Sydney

Telephone +61 2 9351 1031
Fax +61 2 9351 1144

Biographical details

Ann Elias completed a PhD in art history at the University of Auckland. In 1990 she was appointed lecturer in art theory at Sydney College of the Arts, the University of Sydney, teaching students training to be artists. In 2017 she was appointed to a position in the Department of Art History at the University of Sydney. Current teaching and research address the history and theory of art and visual culture, and themes in contemporary art.

Research interests

Interests include: camouflage as an aesthetic, social and military phenomenon; flowers and their cultural history; representations of the underwater and coral reefs. Books include Camouflage Australia: art, nature, science and war(2011), Useless Beauty: Flowers and Australian art(2015), and Coral Empire: underwater oceans, colonial tropics, visual modernity(Duke University Press, 15 March 2019).Coral Empire investigates Frank Hurley and J. E. Williamson, two filmmakers and photographers in the 1920s who turned the underwater of coral reefs, at the Bahamas and the Great Barrier Reef, into modern media spectacles.

Teaching and supervision

Supervises research students at Honours, Masters and PhD levels. Areas include:

  • Art, ecology and environmental aesthetics
  • The more-than-human
  • Natural history and aesthetics
  • Art and the everyday
  • The impact of surrealism
  • Camouflage, mimicry, simulation
  • Photographic and filmic representations
  • Colonialism

New Units of Study taught in 2019:

  • Planetary Art: Nature, Ecology, Environment (ARHT2676, Semester 1)
  • Art and the Aesthetics of the Everyday (ARHT3673, Semester 1)
  • Art, Memory and Identity (ARHT2677, Semester 2)

Current projects

2 new projects:

  • The Floor of Sydney Harbour:a study of visualizations, fantasies, and photographic and cinematic representations of Sydney Harbour from the viewpoint of the underwater.

  • Colour theory, military camouflage, and whiteness.

Associations

Auckland Museum Life member

College Art Association of America Member 2010

International Committee for College Art Association of America

Art Association of Australia and New Zealand Member 2009

International Liaison, Art Association of Australian and New Zealand.

Key Researcher the Sydney Environment Institute

Awards and honours

2014 University of Sydney Thompson Fellowship
2014 National Library of Australia, honorary Harold White Fellowship
2009 SCA Teaching Award, Excellence in Teaching
2006 Writing Fellowship, The Beautiful, Mutable Flower
2006 Research and Development Grant, Flowers and Wa

In the media

(2018), ‘Anzac Day; the Australian War Memorial curators, M L Casteel’s American interiors and the flowers of war’, Eddie Ayres, The Hub on Art, ABC Radio National, 25 April,

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/the-hub-on-art/the-hub-on-art---anzac-day/9690938

(2017), ‘Flowers, Remembrance and the Art of War, The Conversation, 11 November 2017,

https://theconversation.com/flowers-remembrance-and-the-art-of-war-86768

(2015), Interview: Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) Deception by Design

(2018) ‘Frank Hurley and the Great Barrier Reef’, Everyday Futures: Australia in the Age of Humans, https://everydayfutures.com.au/project/frank-hurley-and-the-great-barrier-reef/

2018) ‘The Floor of Sydney Harbour’, Sydney Environment Institute Blog, February 2018,

http://sydney.edu.au/environment-institute/blog/floor-sydney-harbour/

(2017) Planetary Poetics”: What is it?, Sydney Environment Institute Blog, October 2017,

October 9, http://sydney.edu.au/environment-institute/blog/planetary-poetics-what-is-it/

(2017) Sydney Harbour: Intersections of the arts, sciences, and humanities, Sydney Environment Institute Blog, May 2017, http://sydney.edu.au/environment-institute/blog/sydney-harbour-intersections-of-the-arts-sciences-and-humanities/

(2016) Arts, Science, Oceans, Sydney Environment Institute Blog, 24 August 2016, http://sydney.edu.au/environment-institute/blog/arts-science-oceans/

PhD and master's project opportunities

Selected grants

2014

  • Modernist Imagery of the Great Barrier Reef 1880-1950; Elias A; National Library of Australia/Harold White Fellowship.
  • Useless Beauty: Flowers, art, and modern European Australia; Elias A; DVC Research/Thompson Fellowships.

2013

  • Contemporary International Aesthetics; Elias A, Colless E, Gibson R, Hauser K, Mellor D, Millner J, Tsoutas N, Tyler L, Behrens R; Office of Global Engagement/IPDF Grant.
  • Conference grant for keynote speakers (Camouflage Cultures: surveillance, communities, aesthetics, animals); Elias A; Ian Potter Foundation/Travel Support.

2012

  • Present the exhibition Camouflage Cultures: surveillance, communities, aesthetics, and animals; curated by Nicholas Tsoutas and Assoc Professor Ann Elias.; Elias A, Tsoutas N; Australia Council for the Arts/Presentation & Promotion Grant.

2005

  • Flower painting as symptomatic of First World War trauma: Hans Heysen, George Lambert and Arthur Streeton; Elias A; University of Sydney/Research & Development.

2002

  • The camouflage artists with the 5th Australian Division and their deception scheme on Goodenough Island in 1943.; Elias A; DVC Research/Research and Development Scheme: Research and Development (R&D).

Selected publications & creative works

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Books

  • Elias, A. (2019). Coral Empire: Underwater oceans, colonial tropics, visual modernity (forthcoming). Durham: Duke University Press. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2015). Useless Beauty: Flowers and Australian Art. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  • Elias, A. (2011). Camouflage Australia: Art, Nature, Science, and War. Sydney: Sydney University Press.

Edited Books

  • Elias, A., Harley, R., Tsoutas, N. (2015). Camouflage Cultures: Beyond the art of disappearance. Sydney, Australia: Sydney University Press.

Book Chapters

  • Elias, A. (2016). Foreword. Frank Lloyd Wright and Mason City: Architectural Heart of the Prairie, (pp. 11-12). Charleston: The History Press.
  • Elias, A., Harley, R., Tsoutas, N. (2015). Camouflage Cultures: Beyond the art of disappearance | Introduction. In Ann Elias, Ross Harley, Nicholas Tsoutas (Eds.), Camouflage Cultures: Beyond the art of disappearance, (pp. 7-9). Sydney, Australia: Sydney University Press.
  • Elias, A. (2015). Zoos and camouflage. In Ann Elias, Ross Harley, Nicholas Tsoutas (Eds.), Camouflage Cultures: Beyond the art of disappearance, (pp. 33-45). Sydney, Australia: Sydney University Press.
  • Elias, A. (2010). Military Magic: Camouflage and Goodenough Island. In Prue Ahrens and Chris Dixon (Eds.), Coast to Coast: Case Histories of Modern Pacific Crossings, (pp. 139-151). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  • Elias, A. (2007). Moral Conflict, Cultural Pluralism, and Contemporary Visual Arts Education. In Angela Brew & Judyth Sachs (Eds.), Transforming a university: the scholarship of teaching and learning in practice, (pp. 39-46). NSW, Australia: Sydney University Press.
  • Elias, A. (2005). Peter Peryer. In Hannah Holm & Lara Strongman (Eds.), Contemporary New Zealand Photographers, (pp. 80-88). Auckland, NZ: Mountain View and Craig Potton.

Journals

  • Elias, A. (2018). Heat: Performing Climate. Eyeline, 89, 21-25.
  • Elias, A. (2016). Camouflage and its impact on Australia in WWII: An art historian's perspective. Salus Journal, 1(4), 1-12.
  • Elias, A. (2015). Obliteration: the camouflaged body, Australia, and photography in modern war. War, Literature and the Arts (WLA), 27, 1-21.
  • Elias, A. (2015). Ocean monster screen stars: The impact of J. E. Williamson in Australia. The Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, 4(2 & 3), 85-98. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2015). Relations with natives: Max Dupain, Papua New Guinea and MOMA. World Art, 5(2), 287-307. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2015). War and the Floral Sublime: Bronia Iwanczak and Michael Parekowhai. Eyeline, 83, 36-43.
  • Elias, A. (2014). Second Life: Chicago's 'Bahama Islands diorama'. Antennae: the journal of nature in visual culture, 29, 34-48.
  • Elias, A. (2013). Flower Light. Eyeline, 78/79(Autumn/Winter), 35-41.
  • Elias, A. (2013). Hide and Seek: Camouflage, Photography, and the Media of Reconnaissance. History of Photography, 37(3), 370-371.
  • Elias, A. (2013). Peter Peryer and Flowers. Art New Zealand, 146(Winter 2013), 54-59.
  • Elias, A. (2013). Sea of Dreams: Andre Breton and the Great Barrier Reef. Papers of Surrealism, (10), 1-15.
  • Elias, A. (2013). The Ocean in Our Blood: William Dakin's Modern Story for ABC Radio. Journal of Australian Studies, 37(4), 425-437. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2012). Camouflage and Surrealism. War, Literature and the Arts (WLA), 24, 1-25.
  • Elias, A. (2009). 'Art Has No Country': Hans Heysen and the Consequences of the First World War. History Australia, 6(1), 04.1-04.16.
  • Elias, A. (2009). Camouflage and The Half-hidden History of Max Dupain in War. History of Photography, 33(4), 370-382. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2009). Camouflage Campaigners: Abbott H. Thayer and William J. Dakin. Leonardo, 42(1), 36-41.
  • Elias, A. (2009). Fantin-Latour in Australia. Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, 8(2), 1-16.
  • Elias, A. (2008). Flower Men: The Australian Canon and Flower Painting 1910-1935. emaj: electronic Melbourne art journal, 3, 1-17.
  • Elias, A. (2008). Flowers and Manliness: The Flower Paintings of George Lambert, Hans Heysen, and Arthur Streeton. Journal of Interdisciplinary Gender Studies, 10(2), 14-29.
  • Elias, A. (2008). War and the visual language of flowers: an antipodean perspective. The International Journal of the Humanities, 20(1-2), 234-250.
  • Elias, A. (2008). William Dakin on Camouflage in Nature and War. Journal of Australian Studies, 32(2), 251-263. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2007). 'Exquisite Corpse: Flowers and the First World War'. The International Journal of the Humanities, 5(3), 31-35.
  • Elias, A. (2007). War, Flowers, and Visual Culture: the first world war collection of the Australian War Memorial. Journal of the Australian War Memorial, 40(Feb 07), 1 (online)-10.
  • Elias, A. (2006). Floral Imagery During the First World War. Wartime, (35), 58-59.
  • Elias, A. (2006). Intimate Relations: On the Fascination of Matthys Gerber for Theo Schoon. Eyeline, (60), 32-37.
  • Elias, A. (2003). 'Most Secret' Australian camouflage artists in the Second World War. Art and Australia, 41(1), 102-108.
  • Elias, A. (2003). The organisation of camouflage in Australia in the Second World War. Journal of the Australian War Memorial, 38(April), 1-10.
  • Elias, A. (2002). West and Warburton. Art and Australia, , 485-486.
  • Elias, A. (2002). When Art Became A Weapon: Australians created a masterpiece of deception in the SW Pacific in 1943. Wartime, , 26-27.
  • Elias, A. (2001). Beautiful and True : Early Flower Paintings by by Nora Heysen. Art and Australia, 38(3), 404-409.

Conferences

  • Elias, A. (2015). The lure of underwater space at coral reefs in the early twentieth century. The Underwater Realm, Stanford, California: Stanford University.
  • Elias, A. (2014). Great Barrier Reef: real and surreal representations. Harold White Fellow Presentation, Canberra: National Library of Australia. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2014). Relations with natives: photography, Papua New Guines, and the Pacific War. Broken Images: a symposium on early American photography in the Asia Pacific, 1850-1950, Brisbane: Griffith University. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2013). Obliteration: the camouflaged body and photography in modern war. Modernist Bodies, Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales.
  • Elias, A. (2013). Zoos and Camouflage. Camouflage Cultures: surveillance, communities, aesthetics, animals, Sydney: Sydney University Press.
  • Elias, A. (2011). The Treachery of Images: This is not the Great Barrier Reef. AAANZ 2011 Annual Conference : Contact, Wellington, New Zealand: AAANZ.
  • Elias, A. (2008). Fantin-Latour in Australia. 2008 AAANZ Conference:alpha alpha alpha november zulu, Queensland: AAANZ.
  • Elias, A. (2007). Hans Heysen: the displacement and alienation of a national hero. Moving Cultures, Shifting Identities: migration, connection, heritage and cultural memory, South Australia: Flinders University.
  • Elias, A. (2005). Contemporary Visual Arts Education, The moral Minority and Freedom of Expression. ACUADS 2005 Conference, Perth, Western Australia: Australian Council of University Art & Design Schools.
  • Elias, A. (2005). Freedom of Expression and Contemporary Visual Arts Education. HERDSA, Sydney: Institute for Learning and Teaching, University of Sydney.
  • Elias, A. (2003). Camouflage and deception. Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools Annual Conference, Australia: Coin/Acoft.

Textual Creative Works

  • Elias, A. (2013). A Background to Camouflage. Camouflage Cultures: surveillance, communities, aesthetics and animals, 2013, (pp. 15 - 23). Sydney, Australia: Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney.
  • Elias, A. (2011). Sydney and Sookmyung. Sydney and Sookmyung Exhibition, (pp. 13 - 23). Sydney, Australia: Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney.
  • Elias, A. (2007). Paul Radford and the Philosophy of Practice. Paul Radford:Paintings 2002-2007, (pp. 1 - 5). Auckland, New Zealand: Remuera Gallery.

Exhibitions / Events

  • Elias, A., Tsoutas, N. (2013). Camouflage Cultures: Surveillance, Communities, Aesthetics and Animals. Sydney, Australia: Sydney College of the Arts, the University of Sydney.

Magazine / Newspaper Articles

  • Elias, A. (2017). Flowers, Remembrance and the Art of War. The Conversation, 11/11/2017. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2013). Hidden history: Max Dupain, modernism and wartime camouflage. The Conversation.
  • Elias, A. (2011). Hidden from History. Sydney Alumni Magazine (SAM).

Other

  • Elias, A. (2018), The Floor of Sydney Harbour. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2017), "Planetary Poetics": What is it?. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2017), Arts, Science, Oceans. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2017), Sydney Harbour: Intersections of the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2014), Obliteration: the camouflaged body and photography in modern war. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2014), Peter Peryer and Flora Photographica Aotearoa.

2019

  • Elias, A. (2019). Coral Empire: Underwater oceans, colonial tropics, visual modernity (forthcoming). Durham: Duke University Press. [More Information]

2018

  • Elias, A. (2018). Heat: Performing Climate. Eyeline, 89, 21-25.
  • Elias, A. (2018), The Floor of Sydney Harbour. [More Information]

2017

2016

  • Elias, A. (2016). Camouflage and its impact on Australia in WWII: An art historian's perspective. Salus Journal, 1(4), 1-12.
  • Elias, A. (2016). Foreword. Frank Lloyd Wright and Mason City: Architectural Heart of the Prairie, (pp. 11-12). Charleston: The History Press.

2015

  • Elias, A., Harley, R., Tsoutas, N. (2015). Camouflage Cultures: Beyond the art of disappearance. Sydney, Australia: Sydney University Press.
  • Elias, A., Harley, R., Tsoutas, N. (2015). Camouflage Cultures: Beyond the art of disappearance | Introduction. In Ann Elias, Ross Harley, Nicholas Tsoutas (Eds.), Camouflage Cultures: Beyond the art of disappearance, (pp. 7-9). Sydney, Australia: Sydney University Press.
  • Elias, A. (2015). Obliteration: the camouflaged body, Australia, and photography in modern war. War, Literature and the Arts (WLA), 27, 1-21.
  • Elias, A. (2015). Ocean monster screen stars: The impact of J. E. Williamson in Australia. The Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, 4(2 & 3), 85-98. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2015). Relations with natives: Max Dupain, Papua New Guinea and MOMA. World Art, 5(2), 287-307. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2015). The lure of underwater space at coral reefs in the early twentieth century. The Underwater Realm, Stanford, California: Stanford University.
  • Elias, A. (2015). Useless Beauty: Flowers and Australian Art. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  • Elias, A. (2015). War and the Floral Sublime: Bronia Iwanczak and Michael Parekowhai. Eyeline, 83, 36-43.
  • Elias, A. (2015). Zoos and camouflage. In Ann Elias, Ross Harley, Nicholas Tsoutas (Eds.), Camouflage Cultures: Beyond the art of disappearance, (pp. 33-45). Sydney, Australia: Sydney University Press.

2014

  • Elias, A. (2014). Great Barrier Reef: real and surreal representations. Harold White Fellow Presentation, Canberra: National Library of Australia. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2014), Obliteration: the camouflaged body and photography in modern war. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2014), Peter Peryer and Flora Photographica Aotearoa.
  • Elias, A. (2014). Relations with natives: photography, Papua New Guines, and the Pacific War. Broken Images: a symposium on early American photography in the Asia Pacific, 1850-1950, Brisbane: Griffith University. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2014). Second Life: Chicago's 'Bahama Islands diorama'. Antennae: the journal of nature in visual culture, 29, 34-48.

2013

  • Elias, A. (2013). A Background to Camouflage. Camouflage Cultures: surveillance, communities, aesthetics and animals, 2013, (pp. 15 - 23). Sydney, Australia: Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney.
  • Elias, A., Tsoutas, N. (2013). Camouflage Cultures: Surveillance, Communities, Aesthetics and Animals. Sydney, Australia: Sydney College of the Arts, the University of Sydney.
  • Elias, A. (2013). Flower Light. Eyeline, 78/79(Autumn/Winter), 35-41.
  • Elias, A. (2013). Hidden history: Max Dupain, modernism and wartime camouflage. The Conversation.
  • Elias, A. (2013). Hide and Seek: Camouflage, Photography, and the Media of Reconnaissance. History of Photography, 37(3), 370-371.
  • Elias, A. (2013). Obliteration: the camouflaged body and photography in modern war. Modernist Bodies, Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales.
  • Elias, A. (2013). Peter Peryer and Flowers. Art New Zealand, 146(Winter 2013), 54-59.
  • Elias, A. (2013). Sea of Dreams: Andre Breton and the Great Barrier Reef. Papers of Surrealism, (10), 1-15.
  • Elias, A. (2013). The Ocean in Our Blood: William Dakin's Modern Story for ABC Radio. Journal of Australian Studies, 37(4), 425-437. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2013). Zoos and Camouflage. Camouflage Cultures: surveillance, communities, aesthetics, animals, Sydney: Sydney University Press.

2012

  • Elias, A. (2012). Camouflage and Surrealism. War, Literature and the Arts (WLA), 24, 1-25.

2011

  • Elias, A. (2011). Camouflage Australia: Art, Nature, Science, and War. Sydney: Sydney University Press.
  • Elias, A. (2011). Hidden from History. Sydney Alumni Magazine (SAM).
  • Elias, A. (2011). Sydney and Sookmyung. Sydney and Sookmyung Exhibition, (pp. 13 - 23). Sydney, Australia: Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney.
  • Elias, A. (2011). The Treachery of Images: This is not the Great Barrier Reef. AAANZ 2011 Annual Conference : Contact, Wellington, New Zealand: AAANZ.

2010

  • Elias, A. (2010). Military Magic: Camouflage and Goodenough Island. In Prue Ahrens and Chris Dixon (Eds.), Coast to Coast: Case Histories of Modern Pacific Crossings, (pp. 139-151). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

2009

  • Elias, A. (2009). 'Art Has No Country': Hans Heysen and the Consequences of the First World War. History Australia, 6(1), 04.1-04.16.
  • Elias, A. (2009). Camouflage and The Half-hidden History of Max Dupain in War. History of Photography, 33(4), 370-382. [More Information]
  • Elias, A. (2009). Camouflage Campaigners: Abbott H. Thayer and William J. Dakin. Leonardo, 42(1), 36-41.
  • Elias, A. (2009). Fantin-Latour in Australia. Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, 8(2), 1-16.

2008

  • Elias, A. (2008). Fantin-Latour in Australia. 2008 AAANZ Conference:alpha alpha alpha november zulu, Queensland: AAANZ.
  • Elias, A. (2008). Flower Men: The Australian Canon and Flower Painting 1910-1935. emaj: electronic Melbourne art journal, 3, 1-17.
  • Elias, A. (2008). Flowers and Manliness: The Flower Paintings of George Lambert, Hans Heysen, and Arthur Streeton. Journal of Interdisciplinary Gender Studies, 10(2), 14-29.
  • Elias, A. (2008). War and the visual language of flowers: an antipodean perspective. The International Journal of the Humanities, 20(1-2), 234-250.
  • Elias, A. (2008). William Dakin on Camouflage in Nature and War. Journal of Australian Studies, 32(2), 251-263. [More Information]

2007

  • Elias, A. (2007). 'Exquisite Corpse: Flowers and the First World War'. The International Journal of the Humanities, 5(3), 31-35.
  • Elias, A. (2007). Hans Heysen: the displacement and alienation of a national hero. Moving Cultures, Shifting Identities: migration, connection, heritage and cultural memory, South Australia: Flinders University.
  • Elias, A. (2007). Moral Conflict, Cultural Pluralism, and Contemporary Visual Arts Education. In Angela Brew & Judyth Sachs (Eds.), Transforming a university: the scholarship of teaching and learning in practice, (pp. 39-46). NSW, Australia: Sydney University Press.
  • Elias, A. (2007). Paul Radford and the Philosophy of Practice. Paul Radford:Paintings 2002-2007, (pp. 1 - 5). Auckland, New Zealand: Remuera Gallery.
  • Elias, A. (2007). War, Flowers, and Visual Culture: the first world war collection of the Australian War Memorial. Journal of the Australian War Memorial, 40(Feb 07), 1 (online)-10.

2006

  • Elias, A. (2006). Floral Imagery During the First World War. Wartime, (35), 58-59.
  • Elias, A. (2006). Intimate Relations: On the Fascination of Matthys Gerber for Theo Schoon. Eyeline, (60), 32-37.

2005

  • Elias, A. (2005). Contemporary Visual Arts Education, The moral Minority and Freedom of Expression. ACUADS 2005 Conference, Perth, Western Australia: Australian Council of University Art & Design Schools.
  • Elias, A. (2005). Freedom of Expression and Contemporary Visual Arts Education. HERDSA, Sydney: Institute for Learning and Teaching, University of Sydney.
  • Elias, A. (2005). Peter Peryer. In Hannah Holm & Lara Strongman (Eds.), Contemporary New Zealand Photographers, (pp. 80-88). Auckland, NZ: Mountain View and Craig Potton.

2003

  • Elias, A. (2003). 'Most Secret' Australian camouflage artists in the Second World War. Art and Australia, 41(1), 102-108.
  • Elias, A. (2003). Camouflage and deception. Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools Annual Conference, Australia: Coin/Acoft.
  • Elias, A. (2003). The organisation of camouflage in Australia in the Second World War. Journal of the Australian War Memorial, 38(April), 1-10.

2002

  • Elias, A. (2002). West and Warburton. Art and Australia, , 485-486.
  • Elias, A. (2002). When Art Became A Weapon: Australians created a masterpiece of deception in the SW Pacific in 1943. Wartime, , 26-27.

2001

  • Elias, A. (2001). Beautiful and True : Early Flower Paintings by by Nora Heysen. Art and Australia, 38(3), 404-409.

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