Dr Anthony Macris
Associate Professor, Creative Practices Group
Doctor of Philosophy
Anthony Macris is an Australian writer, academic and literary critic.
His first novel, Capital, Volume one (A&U Sydney 1997, London 1998) won him a listing as a Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist 2008, and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Southeast Asian section: Best First Book 2008.
Following the critical success of Capital, Volume one, he received three Australia Council grants to write Great Western Highway (Capital, Volume One, Part Two). Parts of the novel and a related theory component were completed in the PhD program at the University of Western Sydney, and to date the project has yielded numerous creative and scholarly outputs, all published nationally and internationally in English, French and Serbian. His theoretical work into the literary trope of the Generative mise en abyme earned him the inaugural Sussex-Samuel Prize for literary theory, 2002, awarded by the Australian Modern Languages Association.
After gaining a tenured position in creative writing in the Faculty of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong, he went on to become Faculty Research Chair and Head of Postgraduate Studies. During this period he gained wide experience in line management and national research policy, and wrote the Faculty’s Quality and Impact Evidence Portfolios for the Research Quality Framework.
He has also been a regular contributor to the national media, writing book reviews, review articles and features for The Sydney Morning Herald, Griffith Review and The Bulletin for over a decade.
His most recent project, When Horse Became Saw: a journey into autism, is a book-length account of his son’s regression into that condition at the age of two. It was written with the assistance of two Australia Council grants, and other competitive University grants.
He holds a Masters Degree in creative writing from the Writing Seminars program at Johns Hopkins University, and in 2001 gave an invited plenary address at the 38th Belgrade International Meeting of Writers.
Writing Seminar, Theory and Writing
The contemporary Novel
Research supervision: Yes
When Anthony Macris' son was diagnosed with autism, he and his partner Kathy had two choices: do what they were told + and could afford + or do what they thought best. This is the tragic, joyful, instructive story of how they confronted the condition that changed their lives. Before the onset of autism, Alex was a vibrant, healthy little boy, Anthony and Kathy the happiest of parents. Afterwards Alex was struck mute, barely able to recognise them. From then on, all that mattered was finding the right treatment. But how to do this, for a disorder with no known cause and no cure? Eventually Anthony and Kathy decided to take control of their son's therapy themselves, turning every aspect of their lives around in the process. It took a long time, but the radiance did return to Alex's face. By then he was a completely different person, and so were his parents.
Macris, A. 2004, 'Samuel Beckett, Claude Simon and the Mise En Abyme of Paradoxical Duplication' in UHLMANN, Anthony, Sjef HOUPPERMANS, Bruno CL+MENT (eds), After Beckett/D'apres Beckett, Rodopi, The Netherlands, pp. 117-130.
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In his seminal study of novelistic mise en abyme structures, The Mirror in the Text, Lucien Dõllenbach identifies a type he calls the mise en abyme of paradoxical duplication. Characterised by an extreme self-reflexivity, Dõllenbach explores the operations of this literary trope in the later novels of the nouveau roman, particularly those of Claude Simon and Samuel Beckett. This article explores how Simon and Beckett employ this device with radically different results, Simon's forming part of a textual poetics that engages with the material and social, while Beckett's tends to a privileging of the selfreflexivity of language.
Macris, A. 2002, 'Point of View: an introduction' in Brenda Walker (ed), The Writers' Reader, Halstead, Sydney, pp. 241-250.
Macris, A. 2010, 'Waves Of Love', Meanjin, vol. 69, no. 3, pp. 75-81.
I can+t remember exactly when I first saw All about Eve, the 1950 Holly- wood masterpiece written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and starring Bette Davis and Anne Baxter. I suspect it was sometime on latenight television in the mid 1970s. In those pre-VHS, pre-DVD, pre-internet days, my insatiable hunger for images could only be really satisfied by one source: movies, watched at the cinema and the drive in, but especially at home on television. As a young teenager I would spend countless hours in the living room, sprawled on the floor in front of our already ancient three-in-one entertainment unit watching anything and everything, from Carry On films to courtroom dramas with Gregory Peck. At that age I didn+t look for understanding as a whole, and often didn+t care if I didn+t understand anything much at all. It was the window on other worlds that mattered. It was the endless succession of other universes, peopled by characters wearing everything from togas to tuxedos.
Macris, A. 2008, 'Sunday night at the movies: The Generative mise en abyme-as-socius', AUMLA - Journal Of The Australasian Universities Language And Literature Association, vol. 109, pp. 1-25.
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It's a common enough urban ritual. After a hard day's work, after dinner, after the kids have been put to bed, you sit down and watch TV, even when you don't really want to. There are the next day's activities to get ready for-clothes to iron, lunches to be made, paperwork to look at-but you don't really want to do any of that. There's some movie on, oh yes, you know it, The Fijih Elell/ent, a futuristic love story with a balding Bruce Willis, and an operasinging allen made of blue rubber, and a Eurotrash-meets-Stare Wars mise-ell-scene. You saw the movie a few years ago when it first came out, on the big screen in a full state-of-the-art Senstadium presentation, and you remember you enjoyed it, even though it really was only brain candy.
When, in the mid 1990s, I started writing my second novel, Great Western Highway (Capital, Volume One, Part Two), I knew I wanted to deal with two things: love and capitalism. Neither is easy to write about, the first because it has been written about so much, the second because 'capitalism' is such a polarising term, and one that belongs more to economics and politics than literature. But I persevered, mainly because I had no choice. Most writers don't choose what they want to write about: it chooses them. What srarts as an unconscious preoccupation soon becomes a full-blown obsession, and once it has reached that stage you know you've got something strong enough to see you through the marathon that is the writing of a novel. Anything less compulsive can't be taken seriously. It simply won't go the distance, .and, even worse, it won't be artistically true.
To date the most comprehensive study of the literary figure of the mise en af!yme is Lucien Dallenbach's Le Ridt Speculai,.: Essai sur la Mise en Af!yme, first published in 1977.' Employing a strict structuralist methodology, it attempts to provide a definitive typology of the mise en af!yme, tracing its historical evolution and discussing its more recent developments in the works of Claude Simon. In doing so, Dallenbach provides a rich and analytically rigorous analysis even if, when the unwieldy products of novelistic practice do not always fit his schemas, he is forced to invent new sub-categories that threaten to undermine his neat tripartite classification. It is by exploiting one such point of slippage in his typology that I hope to outline the existence of a tendency in the development of the mise en af!yme that has escaped his analysis, but which his very analysis has made possible to theorise.
Macris, A. 2003, 'One Step Forward, Two Steps Back', Heat, vol. Heat 5. Nw, pp. 211-220.
Macris, A. 1999, 'It's All Very Well to Want Shangri-Lah', UTS Review, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 178-185.
Macris, A. 2006, '"Creative Writing Strikes Back"', Griffith Review, vol. 11.
Macris, A. 2002, 'The New Millennium', Overland, vol. 168.
Macris, A. 2001, 'Novi milenijum: Fasade i dvolicnosti', Sveske, vol. Dec 2001, pp. 117-119.
Macris, A. 1998, 'Multiple Selves', UTS Review, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 241-246.
Macris, A. 2008, 'Words and World', Annual Conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs, Canberra, Australia, November 2007 in The and is papers: website proceedings of the 12th conference of the AAWP, ed Webb, J. Williams, J., AAWP, Canberra, Australia, pp. 1-10.
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One of the paradoxes of any artistic process is the transformation of the intensities of thought and sensation into the empirical fixities of form. For novelists, the sentence, paragraph and chapter are the standard textual forms that represent the richness of character, setting and event, and the insights into human nature they embody. In this paper I draw on approaches from literature, painting and poststructuralist philosophy to investigate the process by which words become worlds
Macris, A. 2006, 'University of Wollongong/University of Western Sydney', University of Wollongong/University of Western Sydney.
UOW/UWS Crosstraining for Doctoral Candidates with Creative Component. A two-day symposium including presentations, workshops and seminars. Co-organiser, Professor Jane Goodall, UWS.
Macris, A. 2005, '"High Impact: the research quality framework and creative writing"', Perth, November 2005.
Macris, A. 2003, '"Beckett and the Politics of Futility"', Sydney, September 2003.
Macris, A. 2001, '"The New Millennium: facades and duplicities"', Belgrade, October 2011.
Macris, A. 2000, '"In conversation with Anna Johnston"', University of Tasmania, July 2000.
It's with mixed feelings that I listen to Bill Shorten talk about how we can empower the disabled and their carers in the wake of the release of a Productivity Commission draft report that confronts their long-term needs.
Macris, A. 2011, '"So Close, So Far"', Good Weekend Magazine, Sydney Morning Herald, Fairfax, Sydney, pp. 20-24.
This extract comes from a book-length work of creative non-fiction that documents my son's regression into severe autism at the age of eighteen months, and my family's struggle to provide him with appropriate therapy. The book will be published by Penguin Australia in March 2011. It was funded by two New Work grants from the Literature Board of the Australia Council (2006, 2008), as well as an Early Research Project Grant from UTS, and a Faculty Project Grant from UOW. This 2008 Meanjin extract received enthusiastic media attention in a review in the Age newspaper (13/08/2008), and in an ABC Radio broadcast (2/08/09). The extract depicts the initial stages of my son's regression, which lays the foundation for the book's structure. This comprises both narrative and researched components, and applies an innovate methodology to the creative non-fiction genre: the bodies of knowledge required to understand and treat autism as well as a critical appraisal of them become part of the lived experience dramatised in the narrative. The research underpinning the extract is extensive, and falls into two areas. The first is the investigation of clinical matters: aetiologies and definitions of autism (DSM-IV); the history of behaviourism (Skinner) and the autism-specific therapy Applied Behavioural Analysis (Lovaas). The second deals with social and ethical issues, and investigates inadequate public resourcing and its consequences for children with autism and their families.
Highway of Death is a chapter from my novel-in-progress, Great Western Highway, and deals with representations of war in media and urban contexts. It presents a case study of the first Gulf War (1990-1991), and explores the levels of representations that go from theatre-of-war image production (footage of pilot screens as they conduct precision bombing), to the redeployment of these images in the media field (use of this footage in televison news broadcasts). This investigation of image circulation in digital warfare is underpinned by the work of Jean Baudrillard and Paul Virilio, particularly their theories of simulacrum and the rhetoric of the image.The central theme of Great Western Highway is the penetration of market forces into the social fabric of contemporary Western societies such as Australia. The novel also provides a model of structural innovation that revives experimentation within narrative form in contemporary Australian writing, which has traditionally been e ntrenched in realist modes. The research methodology of the project was highly interdisciplinary, involving engagements with Thatcherism; corporeal narratology (Punday); theories of the culture industry (Horkheimer & Adorno); the French nouveau roman (Simon); Modernism (Joyce, Celine); and aspects of Postmodernism that deal with popular culture and self-reflexivity in the literary and media fields (Jameson, Warhol). The novel was written with the assistance of three New Work grants from the Literature Board of the Australia Council, and highly commended in the NSW Writers' Fellowship 2000.
Spider's Lane is a chapter from my novel-in-progress, Great Western Highway. In traditional novelistic terms, it deals with the novel's love story, as a young Sydney couple comes to grips with the decision to start a family in uncertain economic times, and explores themes of commitment and belonging in contemporary urban contexts. In more theoretical terms, it is an example of a literary figure I am developing, that of the affect sign. Drawing on Deleuze's conception of the representation of affect in Cinema, the chapter harnesses narrative (forward movement), setting, image and lyricism to create a tableau of affective sensation that is particular to novelistic representation. The central theme of Great Western Highway is the penetration of market forces into the social fabric of contemporary Western societies such as Australia. The novel also provides a model of structural innovation that revives experimentation within narrative form in contemporary Australian writing, which has traditionally been entrenched in realist modes. The research methodology of the project was highly interdisciplinary, involving engagements with Thatcherism; corporeal narratology (Punday); theories of the culture industry (Horkheimer & Adorno); the French nouveau roman (Simon); Modernism (Joyce, Celine); and aspects of Postmodernism that deal with popular culture and self-reflexivity in the literary and media fields (Jameson, Warhol). The novel was written with the assistance of three New Work grants from the Literature Board of the Australia Council, and highly commended in the NSW Writers' Fellowship 2000.
I was invited to contribute a chapter from my novel-in-progress, Great Western Highway, to Le Passant Ordinaire, a French journal of philosophy, literature and politics funded by the French Ministry for Culture and Communication. The novel was written with the assistance of three New Work grants from the Literature Board of the Australia Council, and highly commended in the NSW Writers' Fellowship 2000. Le Passant lists me as "l'une des figures majeures de la litterature contemporaine australienne." Other contributors to the issue include international intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Etienne Balibar. The central theme of Great Western Highway is the penetration of market forces into the social fabric of contemporary Western societies such as Australia. The chapter's main innovation is in the way it manifests a novelistic form whose structure reflects, or even embodies, market transformations in society. It explores the contemporary media machine's proliferation of images, self-reflexivity and dissolution of the distinction between image producers and consumers in critically aware ways. It also provides a model of structural innovation that revives experimentation with narrative form in contemporary Australian writing, which has traditionally been entrenched in realist modes. The research methodology of the project was highly interdisciplinary, involving engagements with Thatcherism; corporeal narratology (Punday); theories of the culture industry (Horkheimer & Adorno); the French nouveau roman (Simon); Modernism (Joyce, Celine); and aspects of Postmodernism that deal with popular culture and self-reflexivity in the literary and media fields (Jameson, Warhol).
Macris, A. 2002, 'One-Armed Bandit', Vision Splendid: Journal of Australian Studies, UQP, St Lucia, QLD.
Macris, A. 2002, 'TCF', Overland, O L Society Limited, Melbourne.
Macris, A. 2000, 'The Olympia', Jacket, Australian Literary Management, Sydney.
Macris, A. 1997, 'Capital, Volume One', Allen & Unwin, St Leonards.
IT'S of the great truisms of fiction writing: show, don't tell. Like all truisms, it needs to be handled with care. Showing, in its most extreme form, will lead you simply to compiling a list of objects. While you'll achieve all the concreteness and specificity you could desire, you'll also risk boring the readers stupid as they drag themselves through sentences that read like shopping lists.
Macris, A. 2006, '"Autographic"', The Bulletin, ACP, Sydney.
Macris, A. 1997, '"Driving through Brisbane" (from Capital, Volume One)', Australian Book Review, ABR, Melbourne, pp. 68-69.
Macris, A. 2000, 'ATM', Heat, Giramondo, Sydney, pp. 88-96.
Macris, A. 2011, '"Anthony Macris interviewed by Fran Kelly"', ABC Radio National Breakfast Show, ABC Radio National..
ABC Radio National interview with Fran Kelly about my book "When Horse Became Saw", autism, and national disability policy.
Macris, A. 2011, '"Living with Autism"', Channel Nine Today, Channel Nine.
An interview and profile with my family and myself about living with autism. Featuring my book "When Horse Became Saw" (Penguin 2011)
Macris, A. 2011, '"Living with Autism"', ABC 7.30, ABC Television.
Profile and interview of my family, in particular my son, concerning his regression into severe autism. Discussion of my book "When Horse Became Saw" (Penguin 2011)
Macris, A. 2011, 'Fiction vs non-fiction', The Book Show, ABC Radio National..
Interview about my book "When Horse Became Saw" (Penguin 2011), and a panel discussion about fiction and non-fiction
Macris, A. 2011, 'Interview and talkback with ABC Radio Melbourne'.
Interview and talkback with ABC Radio Melbourne about my book "When Horse Became Saw", autism and national disability policy.
Macris, A. 2011, 'Living with Autism', ABC 7.30, ABC Television.
An interview and profile on myself and my family about living with autism. Featuring my book When Horse Became Saw (Penguin 2011)