Recent visitors to the Law Library might have noticed some construction taking place in the last couple of months. All of this was to create a new space just for you: the Herbert Smith Freehills Law Library Learning Commons. We are happy to announce that this area is opening on Tuesday 13 April!
This space is a great place to collaborate and relax. There are:
Three group meeting rooms
A range of comfortable seats – both modern and vintage-style
High tables with in-built power points and USB points to charge your laptop, tablet or phone
Wi-fi throughout the space
A water bottle refill station – so you can keep refreshed while you study
Hot and cold Zip taps
Four microwaves, so you can reheat your meals … once we are able to allow hot food in the library again (after COVID restrictions lift)
A new waste management system – including separate recycling, general waste and organics waste bins
Law Library Learning Commons – in pictures
Next time you’re on campus, come and check out the new Law Library Learning Commons in person. You’ll find it on the lowest level of the Herbert Smith Freehills Law Library, under the Law Building.
Creative folk – we want to hear from you! We’re looking for prose, poems and artwork by students, staff and alumni to publish in the Sydney University Anthology 2021.
The anthology is a great opportunity for you to get published and contribute to the creative exploration of the important issues of our times. The theme of this year’s anthology is ‘Networks’.
We live in a world increasingly defined by networks. The pandemic has simultaneously exposed not just the vulnerability of our physical and social networks, but also their adaptability and resilience.
Despite the incredible upheaval in our lives, we have been reminded how connected we all are. While being isolated, quarantined and separated, we still found ways to virtually network, connect and bond. We have also seen ourselves connecting on a much larger scale, uniting through movements and protests, and shared feelings of grief and loss.
The idea of networking cuts across many areas and has been explored as a concept in botany, philosophy, computer science and art. Networks are our communities, our communications and our neural networks, and they define our incredibly complex natural environment.
About the anthology
Published annually since 2007, the Sydney University Anthology showcases the creative talents of our students, staff and alumni. This student-led project is an opportunity for Master of Publishing students to apply their editing, design, marketing and project management skills to a real-life publication consisting of works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and art by University of Sydney staff, students and alumni.
Each anthology features a foreword written by a renowned literary figure. In past anthologies, this has included Ceridwen Dovey, Kate Forsyth, PM Newton, Mark Tredinnick and Dr Karl Kruszelnicki.
Sydney University Anthology 2021
What you can submit: Up to 5000 words of prose, five poems or five artistic pieces that focus on the theme of networks.
Deadline for submissions: Saturday 31 July 2021
Who can contribute: Students, staff and alumni of the University of Sydney.
We are very proud to announce the launch of the Library’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Protocols, a sector-leading piece of work that will support our goal of making the Library a welcoming, inclusive and culturally safe space.
The Protocols were written during 2020 by Nathan Sentance, our Cultural Advisor in Residence, in consultation with key Library and University stakeholders, including the Library’s Wingara Mura Project Group, and the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services).
The Protocols contain a range of commitments by the Library to promote culturally safe practices across services, spaces and resources. We will work to ensure that all staff, students and community members with whom we interact feel safe, respected and valued.
As a site of knowledge production and custodian of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, and the knowledges of other First Nations peoples, the Library is mindful of Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property (ICIP) and encourages ethical use of the First Nations cultural knowledge and culturally appropriate research practices.
There is still a lot of work to be done, beginning with the implementation of the policies and processes outlined in these Protocols through a series of specialised projects over the next couple of years. However, with the finalisation and publication of the Protocols, we have taken a major first step on this journey.
International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV) is held on 31 March each year to celebrate the successes and resilience of transgender people and gender non-confirming people. The day raises awareness of their experiences and rights, and recognises the discrimination and transphobia they experience.
To celebrate TDoV 2021, the Library has compiled a short list of highlights from our collection that centres on transgender experiences and stories. All of these resources can be found within the Library catalogue, and can be easily accessed using the QR codes provided.
We’re also very proud to share with you this poem written by University of Sydney student Samantha Baker: Visible; to be seen.
Trans+: Love, Romance, and Being You
By Kathryn Gonzales MBA and Karen Rayne PhD
Trans+ offers an honest, all-inclusive, uncensored guide with real-world information for teens who are transgender, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming, gender-fluid, or questioning their gender identity, and for cis-allies.
Trans+ answers the hard questions about gender expression and identity, covers mental health, physical health and reproduction, transitioning, relationships, sex, and life as a trans or non-binary individual.
This easy-to-read book is full of essential information as well as QR codes linking to a plethora of other resources. It is a must-read for everyone!
Honeybee is a heartbreaking, life-affirming novel that throws us headlong into a world of petty thefts, extortion plots, botched bank robberies, daring dog rescues and one spectacular drag show.
At the heart of Honeybee is Sam: a trans, resilient young person battling to navigate the world as their true self; ensnared by loyalty to a troubled mother, scarred by the volatility of a domineering stepfather, and confounded by the kindness of new alliances.
Honeybee is a tender, profoundly moving novel, brimming with vivid characters and luminous words. It’s about two lives forever changed by a chance encounter — one offering hope, the other redemption. It’s about when to persevere, and when to be merciful, as Sam learns when to let go, and when to hold on.
Transgender Resistance: Socialism and the fight for trans liberation
By Laura Miles
Trans rights and trans lives have come under increasingly vicious ideological attack in recent times, from the “bathroom wars” and Donald Trump’s anti-trans edicts in the United States, to attacks on proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act in Britain.
Transgender Resistance brings together key strands of the opposition to these attacks – on the streets, in communities, in workplaces and in unions. It addresses the roots of transphobia and the history of gender transgressive behaviours.
It highlights trans peoples’ fight for the freedom to live authentic lives and explains why that fight deserves unconditional solidarity in all sections of the left.
Transgender Warriors: making history from Joan of Arc to RuPaul
By Leslie Feinberg
In this fascinating personal journey through history, Leslie Feinberg – one of the most prominent transgender rights activists today – unearths a vast body of evidence that throughout history there have always been people who defy cultural boundaries of sex and gender. During an embattled childhood and teenage years as a gender outlaw, Feinberg began a search for others struggling to assert an identity.
What zie found was a long tradition of individuals fighting back against injustice – from Joan of Arc to the Welsh peasants who cross-dressed to protest taxes, from the Black and Latina drag queens who led the Stonewall rebellion to transsexual parents fighting for custody today. Traditional society often exacted a terrible price from these transgender warriors, and Feinberg urges us now to receive them as hero/ines and visionaries.
Illustrated with many previously unpublished historical images and contemporary photographs, Transgender Warriors is an eye-opening excursion through the history of sex and gender expression and a powerful testament to the resilient and rebellious spirit.
Trans dilemmas: living in Australia’s remote areas and in Aboriginal communities
By Stephen Kerry
Trans Dilemmas presents the findings of a three-year research project which examined the lived experiences of trans people in Australia’s Northern Territory. The book argues that whilst trans people, who live in remote areas, experience issues which may not be distinct from those living in urban areas and the inner-city, these issues can be aggravated by geographic and demographic factors.
Trans Dilemmas represents an important contribution to contemporary research into the lives of transgender Australians. It gives a voice to those transgender people living in the more isolated communities in Australia, which up until now, have been largely unheard. For students and researchers in Queer Studies and Gender Studies, this is valuable reading.
A film directed by Joe Wilson, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu and Dean Hamer
Leitis in Waiting is the story of Joey Mataele and the Tonga Leitis, an intrepid group of transgender women fighting a rising tide of religious fundamentalism in their highly religious and conservative South Pacific Kingdom.
With unexpected humour and extraordinary access to the Kingdom’s royals and religious leaders, this emotional journey reveals what it means to be different in a society ruled by tradition, and the challenge of being yourself without forsaking culture and tradition.
Shot on an iPhone 5, Tangerine is a 2015 American comedy-drama film about a transgender sex worker who discovers that her boyfriend/pimp cheated on her while she was in jail and the drama that ensues as she seeks revenge.
Frontiers of Science Fiction is a Rare Books & Special Collections exhibition that features works from both The Frontiers of Science strips and our science fiction collections. It is on display in the Level 2 Exhibition Space in Fisher Library.
Frontiers of Science was a groundbreaking Australian syndicated newspaper comic strip published internationally between 1962 and 1980 and created here at the University of Sydney. Its aim was to disseminate scientific knowledge in an easily comprehensible way during the height of the Cold War between Russia and America, to a public fascinated with, and indeed enmeshed in, the scientific and technological rivalry between the two world blocks. The “space race” was inextricably tied to the “arms race” and defined the era from 1945 till 1990.
The original Frontiers of Science strips ran from 1961 and were significant as a means of communicating and popularising science. The series was produced and distributed by Press Feature Service, and co-written by Professor Stuart Butler from the School of Physics at the University of Sydney, and journalist and film-maker Bob Raymond. Early artwork in the series was by Andrea Bresciani; it was continued later by David Emerson.
The Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections holds the archive of these strips, and the physical copies of the original paper ‘pulls’ – five days of strips that could be sent to the newspapers around the world for publication.
Rare Books and Special Collections also has several science fiction collections donated and acquired over the years, including the Steele, Graham and General Science Fiction collections. These form a comprehensive survey of 20th century speculative science writing.
The exhibition Frontiers of Science Fiction is an attempt to find the intersection of science fiction writing and science by juxtaposing the Frontiers of Science with these myriad SF books. In doing this, it is hoped that a kind of imaginative tableau of ideas in the 20th century, the popular scientific imagination, and the current state of scientific ideas (via QR code links to online content) will inspire interest, thought, and imagination.
The exhibition is arranged in themes broadly defined by the literature as an easily accessible and populist point of contact. Themes include ‘The Moon’, ‘Relativistic Travel’, ‘Rockets’, ‘Cryonics’, ‘Robots’ and ‘Plagues from Space’. It includes original Frontiers of Science sheets next to the books, with QR codes linking to the contemporary science for the theme.
Here is a brief taster of a few of the themes:
Life in the Computer Age
This Frontiers of Science piece from 1965, probably of all the collection, encompasses more accurate predictions in one edition than all the others, and in some ways has the most relevance to the lives we lead today. It also highlights how difficult it is to predict what may happen in the future.
Tim Berners-Lee, the initiator of what became the worldwide web in 1991, envisaged something entirely different to the system that we have today. He certainly expected something which would democratise information and its transmission, but by his own admission, he never foresaw the leverage that vast commercial interests now exert upon all of us using the internet.
This single panel from the Frontiers of Science strip 178 (11/02/1965) is concerned with the way that information from all libraries will be available in your living room. It is not too far off in terms of the internet at least, and more specifically e-books in the modern academic library.
The hierarchical notions of information access prevalent at the time are predicted to remain intact in this vision, and libraries are named as the big player in information technology. The fullness of time has proven libraries have become in some ways marginalised as they are no longer the only receptacles of knowledge. The reality has been an atomisation of information via internet and its social media, which over 30 years have slowly and increasingly become concentrated in the hands of the tech giants that hold most power: Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook; companies that recently faced congressional hearings on their monopolies.
This Frontiers of Science pull has a lot of other ideas too:
The need for a more human interaction language for interface, which came true in Basic then language interfaces via the QWERTY keyboard
The extension of this to voice command (Siri and Alexa)
Prediction of extra leisure hours because of the alleviation of drudge jobs
Phone calls or communication to computers automating the product supply chain end to end
Radar speed traps and centralised government revenue collection- taxation boon
The paperless office
Looking only at voice command, we could take the example of Siri:
Apple’s proprietary voice recognition and response software, native to billions of devices worldwide in homes, offices and pockets, has a dark 1970s precedent in Dean R Koontz’s novel Demon Seed (featured in the exhibition).
In this book, Siri (or Google Hub or Apple Home) are presaged in heroine Susan Harris’s home security system: an AI which becomes obsessed with her, ultimately attempting to own her mind and body via the powerful control it exerts.
Frontiers of Science 026, entitled ‘The Giant Leap’ deals with contacting other intelligences and crosses over thematically with some notable books in the SF genre.
Many of the books in the exhibition are concerned with the details of alien contact but a few of them delve more deeply to speculate on the existential and conceptual problems humans face in such contact.
Arcady and Boris Strugatsky’s expert exploration of alien contact and its implications is called Roadside Picnic (1971). In this book, the remains of an alien visit to Earth create a restricted zone where artifacts left behind have unfathomable powers, and some people – “stalkers” – come to claim some of these objects for their mysterious effects, at great personal risk.
The titular metaphor relates to this: what would the remains of a roadside picnic look like to the animals of the forest? The book implies that our meagre understanding makes us the animals in this scenario, in the face of an intelligence too advanced to fathom.
In The Listeners by James E Gunn (1972), the message received from the vast reaches of space divides humanity and causes untold tumult.
In our copy on display, the cover features an image of the Arecibo Message. This radio transmission was sent to a cluster of stars 25,000 light years away to demonstrate the power of the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico in 1974. It is a three-minute message of exactly 1,679 binary digits – which, if arranged in a specific way, can explain basic information about humanity and earth to extra-terrestrial beings. It has as yet only travelled a small fraction of the distance to its destination.
Einstein’s theory of general relativity has in recent times become affirmed as a correct model of the universe at the macro level. The collision of two black holes and the detection of the gravity waves that emanated from this event happened via CalTech’s LIGO observatory in 2016. The new LIGO discovery is the first observation of gravitational waves themselves, made by measuring the tiny disturbances the waves make to space and time as they pass through the earth.
In Frontiers of Science 435, part 2 of the strip concerns itself with explaining Einstein’s idea of gravity waves but notes that scientists at the time considered them impossible to measure.
Einstein’s later theory of special relativity deals with what happens to bodies approaching the speed of light. Frontiers of Science 636 from 1973 illustrates this well, and the Library’s science fiction collections represent this in a number of well-known books.
In Poul Anderson’s book Tau Zero (1970), 50 space travellers are compelled to continue accelerating to near light speeds after miscalculating planetfall. Ultimately, relativity as per Einstein’s model mean they can witness the end of the universe, its rebirth and make a new planetfall in an entirely new cosmos.
Similarly, Joe Haldeman’s book, The Forever War, has a decidedly 1970s twist on relativistic interstellar travel. In his novel, the effect of time dilation between the earth and the travellers going off to wage war against an implacable and virtually unintelligible enemy means the returned soldiers are perpetually at odds with the Earth they come home to after decades of Earth time. Haldeman’s own experiences as a returned Vietnam veteran colour this tale of an Earth (read America) that has upturned the values that drafted him.
All the wonderful covers of the books chosen for display are not possible to show here but traverse the breadth of artistic expression for the genre over the years and should not be missed. We hope to see you at the exhibition.
About the curator: Mark Sanfilippo is the Library’s Learning Spaces Officer. He has worked in the museums and galleries sector, notably at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Sydney’s Living Museums. He practises and has an interest in art, design and visual communication, and has an addiction to art supplies and rickety musical instruments. His approach to science is that of a fascinated layperson. He is an advocate of the possibilities of the imagination in interdisciplinary approaches, particularly when applied to the sciences. This is his first solo curated exhibition.