Taking the ‘dangerous art’ of Australian satire to Copenhagen

Published 04 August 2011

annepender.jpgStudents at the University of Copenhagen will soon be exposed to Australian culture as portrayed through the satirical lens of Kath & Kim and The Chaser.

These popular Australian television programs are included in the works they’ll be studying as part of a Master’s degree program at the Danish university’s Centre for Australian Studies.

The course, titled “The Dangerous Art of Satire”, will be taught by the University of New England’s Dr Anne Pender, the biographer of Barry Humphries and a leading authority on all forms of satire. “Two-thirds of the course will be on Australian literature and drama,” Dr Pender said, “and will include the work of writers such as Peter Carey, Christos Tsiolkas (author of the award-winning Dead Europe), and Andrew McGahan (pioneer of ‘Grunge Lit’) and stage/film productions such as Bran Nue Dae.”

Dr Pender’s appointment as Visiting Professor (i.e., holder of the “Distinguished Visiting Chair in Australian Studies”) at the University of Copenhagen from September 2011 to January 2012 is being supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. She will be leaving Armidale for Copenhagen on the 10th of August.

“The appointment was through a competitive process,” she explained. “As part of the application, we had to design a course we’d be teaching at Master’s level – and I chose to design one on satire.” Anne Pender (pictured here) is a Senior Lecturer in English and Theatre Studies at UNE. Her published books include One Man Show: The Stages of Barry Humphries (ABC Books, 2010) and Christina Stead Satirist (Common Ground, Melbourne, 2002).

“I’m looking forward to the experience,” she said. “The University of Copenhagen has a well-established Australian Studies Centre, and employs – among others – Australian academics such as the eminent historian Professor Stuart Ward. And I’m excited about the possibility of establishing new connections for UNE – both at the Centre itself and elsewhere in Europe.”

While in Copenhagen she will be finishing her latest book – a study of Australian expatriate writers in the UK. “It will be interesting to be in a place away from Australia and its British heritage while teaching – and thinking about – Australian literature,” she said. “I’m also really interested in contemporary Danish society and the operation of its Welfare State. I was in Denmark for a performance studies conference a few years ago, and found that interest – and grass-roots activity – in the arts was very vibrant.”