DR ZOE'S PUBLICATIONS
PREVENTING HARMFUL BEHAVIOUR IN ONLINE COMMUNITIES: CENSORSHIP AND INTERVENTIONS
My most recent investigations into the dangerous gap between the clinical community and caregivers versus the pro-anorexia and pro-self-harm communities. This text delves into the often-unanticipated needs of those who band together to resist the healthcare community, suggesting practical ways to address their concerns and encourage healing. The aim here is education for medical professionals about the more unexpected needs of their patients.
THE AESTHETICS OF SELF-HARM: THE VISUAL RHETORIC OF ONLINE SELF-HARM COMMUNITIES
In this book I discuss self-harm and disordered eating on social networks. I look at aesthetic trends that contextualise harmful behavior and help people to perform feelings of sadness and vulnerability online. I argue that the traditional understanding of self-violence through medical discourse is important, but that it misses vital elements of human group activity and the motivating forces of visual imagery.
Cambridge Scholars Press, 2015
THE SPIRIT OF COLIN MCCAHON
My first academic monograph, based on my PhD research. This text explores the New Zealand artist Colin McCahon and the reception of his Christian themes in a secular culture. McCahon struggled to communicate his very specific agenda for the salvation of the landscape and its people, leading him towards disappointment at the end of his life.
Journal for the academic study of religion, 2021
THE MOMO CHALLENGE: EXPLORING THE EMERGENCE OF A MAJOR INTERNET HOAX
From 2018–2019, the spectre of Momo haunted the internet. Momo is depicted as a gaunt Japanese woman with long black hair, an enlarged mouth, and bulbous, haunting eyes. Allegedly, Momo responds to those who text her phone with violent imagery and explicit threats. She also encourages children to self-harm and shows them triggering images of gore, sometimes interspersed amidst innocent cartoons. Of course, Momo is not real and no one has hurt themselves in response to her ‘challenges’. From the start, Momo was very clearly a novel urban legend whose influence was magnified in the popular press and by their deeply-held suspicion of internet predators, peer pressure, and an online world in which technology makes any kind of sinister attack possible. Momo is thus an important case study in establishing the recent history of online demon fear, which feeds into broader trends surrounding ‘Satanic panic’ gateways into the occult. This article positions Momo as the latest manifestation of a fear that children are especially susceptible to evil, and that parents must remain vigilant to the corrupting forces of the demonic.
Fieldwork in religion, 2021
ANZAC CELEBRATION DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: OBSERVATIONS FROM FIELDWORK IN KATOOMBA, NEW SOUTH WALES
This article examines the tension between traditional participation in a potently religious state ritual of war remembrance and the injunction to remain at home during a pandemic crisis. In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) led to the cancellation of numerous religious gatherings across Australia, with the notable inclusion of the Christian Good Friday services and Jewish Passover celebrations in large groups-the first time these celebrations were universally cancelled. The injunction against gatherings was still in place on Anzac Day, April 25, 2020. As the most significant date in the religious life of "secular" Australia, we examine how the populace was encouraged to participate in this war remembrance ritual without forming into groups. Here, the two authors-scholars based in Katoomba, a city on the Western periphery of Sydney, NSW-share their fieldwork observations of dawn activities that took place in their immediate vicinity. They confront a very particular fieldwork question-how to do fieldwork when there is technically no field, yet there is an intimation that some participants may try to gather despite official expectations? They also consider how prevailing conditions may have created a specific COVID-19-influenced field methodology-one that limited their work on this morning. Overall, despite significant governmental efforts to showcase the "Anzac Spirit" on the day, without the typical ceremonial infrastructure, the rituals of the day had an unusually flat and prosaic feel, which, they argue, may not be fully accounted for by the general negativity and confusion surrounding the pandemic.
Fieldwork in religion, 2016
FIELDWORK ON ANZAC DAY: A PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS OF THE DAWN SERVICE AND OTHER RITUALS, 25TH APRIL 2015
In this research, a cohort of Australian scholars document one particular example of the Australian sacred ritual of Anzac Day, and apply Gay McAuley’s model of performance analysis to this and other associated rituals. To analyse any performance, McAuley suggests that the observer investigate four distinct stages of the performative action: (1) the “material signifiers” in the performance space; (2) the “narrative content and/or performance segmentation”; (3) the “paradigmatic axis” of the performance; and (4) the “global statement” of the performance. In this article, Hartney examines the “material signifiers” that mark this pilgrimage the authors make to Canberra and the construction of the Anzac Day Dawn Service. Alderton examines the narrative content and performance segmentation by focusing on how the ostensibly “White” performance of the Dawn Service relies on a narrative that excludes Indigenous voices. She does this through her analysis of the subsequent Indigenous remembrance service held on the same day, and other unofficial protests for recognition of Australian frontier wars. Tower then examines the paradigmatic axis of the ritual through a strategy of examining light and vision in the ritual, how light is connected to remembrance, and the manner in which an analysis of light focuses attention on what Max Frisch calls the magnetic field between perception and imagination. All three authors address McAuley’s concept of the “global statement” that the performance seems to manufacture. They examine how this fits into the Australian national religious system. Finally, they assess the relevance of McAuley’s schema for understanding national sacred rituals.
SECULARISATION: NEW HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES, 2014
THE SACRED SECULAR GALLERY: RELIGION AT TE PAPA TONGAREWA
Te Papa is a state museum, funded by taxpayers of a secular nation. Its major goal is to articulate the spirit of New Zealand and represent the identity of its citizens. The manner in which it describes and celebrates the national soul is deeply spiritualised. This chapter questions the place of state institutions when they deal with, and stand in place of, sacred machinery. The sacrality of this New Zealand national gallery operates on a number of levels. Primarily, it seeks to tell the story of the nation, including narratives of origin and present-day unity. In addition, Te Papa seeks to catalogue and display the natural elements of New Zealand such as its geography and wildlife. This confirms the nation as a system that both studies and is integrated with its natural environment. Te Papa is also an important national art gallery. In this capacity, it develops sacral potential in two ways. It works as a collection of art and, in a manner outlined by Carol Duncan, it acts as a legitimising force and ritual space for the display of artefacts that amplify the authority of New Zealand’s claims to ‘civilisation’. Te Papa also displays art that itself comments on the sacral dimensions of New Zealand, such as that of Colin McCahon.
'SNAPEWIVES' AND 'SNAPEISM': A FICTION-BASED RELIGION WITHIN THE HARRY POTTER FANDOM
The book and film franchise of Harry Potter has inspired a monumental fandom community with a veracious output of fanfiction and general musings on the text and the vivid universe contained therein. A significant portion of these texts deal with Professor Severus Snape, the stern Potions Master with ambiguous ethics and loyalties. This paper explores a small community of Snape fans who have gone beyond a narrative retelling of the character as constrained by the work of Joanne Katherine Rowling. The ‘Snapewives’ or ‘Snapists’ are women who channel Snape, are engaged in romantic relationships with him, and see him as a vital guide for their daily lives. In this context, Snape is viewed as more than a mere fictional creation. He is seen as a being that extends beyond the Harry Potter texts with Rowling perceived as a flawed interpreter of his supra-textual essence. While a Snape religion may be seen as the extreme end of the Harry Potter fandom, I argue that religions of this nature are not uncommon, unreasonable, or unprecedented. Popular films are a mechanism for communal bonding, individual identity building, and often contain their own metaphysical discourses. Here, I plan to outline the manner in which these elements resolve within extreme Snape fandom so as to propose a nuanced model for the analysis of fandom-inspired religion without the use of unwarranted veracity claims.
Journeys and Destinations: Studies in Travel, Identity, and Meaning, 2013
OUT WITH THE TIDE: COLIN MCCAHON AND IMAGINATIVE PILGRIMAGE
Colin McCahon, one of New Zealand’s major modern artists, dedicated a significant portion of his oeuvre to a spiritual exploration of the beach environment, which may be read as a site of imaginative pilgrimage. Created as a means of engaging with death, McCahon’s ‘beach walk’ artworks correlate Māori walk to the afterlife with the Stations of the Cross ritual, based the journey Christ took before his execution. There is a clear performative aspect to these artworks. The viewer is asked to join in and journey with the artist. This is an act of spiritual travel that is aimed at a refinement of the self. McCahon uses the beach at Muriwai, Ahipara, and Cape Reinga as the backdrop for a metaphoric walk, based on Māori mythology, which bridges the living with the dead. His foggy beach environment creates a liminal space where the physical world changes form and permits a visionary experience. McCahon recounts the presence of dead companions during his beach walks and dedicated several of these artworks to his friend, the recently deceased poet James K. Baxter.
DEFINING 'SOCIAL AESHETICS'
The term social aesthetics has been used to describe the manner in which artists have sought to intervene in social structures and values through the creation of performance or situations that challenge these structures; however it is also a term used beyond the parameters of any distinct art form towards this new concept of aesthetics. Urban planning may similarly reinforce or challenge social structures, and may be disrupted by graffiti or guerrilla gardening, which in turn develop their own aesthetic dimensions. Such interventions thus presuppose a different sense of aesthetics: one that is fundamentally concerned with the relationships of people to people and the framing of this interaction in a manner that creates, recreates, and maintains social values and structures. This social sense of aesthetics is concerned with an epistemology—an understanding of space or place and social structure—and communication, as closely related to the concept of ‘affect’. As such, it is seemingly only distantly concerned with traditional philosophical aesthetics. Yet the relationship of social aesthetics to
philosophical aesthetics promises a very rich tradition in its own right when, and if, the academy wishes to engage with this nexus. Social aesthetics itself promises to become the site of a rich crossroads in disciplinary research from
fields as diverse as landscape architecture, material culture, performance studies, advertising, ritual studies, microsociology, psychologies of the self in
relation to others, manners, interaction rituals, and cultural history. It is a rediscovery of aesthetics in the everyday, and in this there is an immediate
political dimension: social aesthetics can comment on the powerful, additional zones of communication that frame how societies work as both systems
seeking stability and as structures of power and control.
CLIFFS AS CROSSES: THE PROBLEMATIC SYMBOLOGY OF COLIN MCCAHON
This paper examines the schism between intended message and reception in the case of New Zealand artist Colin McCahon (1919–1987). McCahon was heavily influenced by Christianity, for him linked inextricably to a message of ecological conservation, and he considered painting to be a prophetic task. As such, McCahon hoped to bring about the religious and behavioural transformation of his audience. McCahon’s Necessary Protection artworks use Christian symbols as a means of communicating the importance of faith as well as his fear of environmental degradation and the necessity of loving one’s homeland. However, McCahon’s complex symbolic lexicon has often proven to be too esoteric to have the intended affect on its intended audience.
literature & aesthetics, 2011
THE LIMITS OF TASTE: POLITICS, AESTHETICS, AND CHRIST IN CONTEMPORARY AUSTRALIA
This article argues that there is a tacit system of social values operating around the reception of mainstream, normative Christianity in Australian art.
Christianity, although a revolutionary movement at its start, has been tied to notions of decency, respect, tradition, and stability since its institutionalisation
by the Roman Empire. Additionally, religious imagery has always been of concern in this faith as it stands in relation to a commandment that warns against graven images. Religious art and Christianity have clashed wildly and radically at various times in the life of the Church, the iconoclastic period of
the Byzantine Empire being one startling example amongst many of how much religious iconography matters. Similarly, religious art today, especially that
which challenges institutionalised Christianity, is taken by many to be not only art bordering on blasphemy, but as an affront to dominant cultural values. This article employs examples from the Blake Prize for Religious Art (1951 to the present) as a case study for the increasingly common fear that contemporary Australian art is a site of declining morality.
literature & aesthetics, 2011
COLOUR, SHAPE, AND MUSIC: THE PRESENCE OF THOUGHT FORMS IN ABSTRACT ART
The impact of Theosophy on modern abstract art is substantial. Seminal contributors to the movement such as Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, and
František Kupka were heavily influenced by Theosophical teachings. These ideas are apparent in their approach to colour and form and in their opinions on the social and spiritual role of the artist. Australian modernists such as Roy de Maistre and Grace Cossington Smith fit into a similar paradigm, although they are often absent from international scholarship on this topic. In this article, I seek to emphasise the important contributions of these Australian artists and demonstrate their interconnectivity with European proponents of the
eternal sunshine of the academic mind, 2009
THE VISIONS OF NORBERT KOX
The artworks and essays of Norbert Kox are defined by a sense of apocalyptic anxiety. By presenting himself as a visionary leader, Kox is able to engage with Americans who fear an impending spiritual judgement. Through the medium of YouTube, Kox presents his apocalyptic predictions and religious guidance in a format that is easy to view and share. His short video blogs and revelations suit the limited attention span of internet users, aided by his engaging combination of video, traditional painting, and text. While Kox’s unsettling and often violent images are unlikely to achieve mainstream popularity, they are an effective tool of communication in a climate of fear. The American public has demonstrated receptiveness towards Biblical leadership, especially in times of uncertainty.
literature & aesthetics, 2009
NICK CAVE: FROM THE ANGLICAN GOD TO A CREATIVE CHRIST
The public image of Nick Cave is far from that of reverential piety, yet his song lyrics contain frequent references to Biblical events, places, and theological themes. This article argues that Nick Cave does not plunder Christian subjects for shock value, but, rather, is a man with a genuine, albeit idiosyncratic, faith. Cave’s spiritual development is traced from the dogmatic religion of his childhood to his current rejection of institutionalised Christianity. This paper explores Cave’s distant relationship with the God of the Anglican Church, and his maturing literary rapport with the Bible due to its powerful linguistic qualities. I will demonstrate how Cave uses writing as a means of self-definition and self-preservation, as an antidote to grief, and as a means of escaping the mediocre. The positive qualities of writing will then be
correlated to outcomes typically derived from religious behaviour.