Professor Emerita Kay Schaffer

Professor Emerita Kay Schaffer
 Position Emerita Professor
 Org Unit Sociology, Criminology & Gender Studies
 Location Floor/Room 5 36 ,  Kenneth Wills ,   North Terrace
  • Biography/ Background

    Kay Schaffer is an Emerita Professor in Gender Studies and Social Inquiry, Faculty of Arts at the University of Adelaide. She works in the areas of gender studies, cultural studies, and literary studies. Her most recent work, Women Writers in Postsocialist China (Routledge, 2014, co-authoried with Xianlin Song), introduces western readers to 14 contemporary Chinese women writers. Her previous book, Human Rights and Narrated Lives: The Ethics of Recognition co-authored with Sidonie Smith (Palgrave, 2004), concerns the significance of personal testimony and storytelling in human rights campaigns and contexts, including narratives of recovery emanating from China, South Africa, and Australia. She was the founding Dr.R. Marika Visiting Chair of Australian and Indigenous Studies at the University of Cologne (Germany) in 2010 and has been on the staff of the Institute for the Study of Law, Literature and Culture at the University of Osnabrueck (Germany) since 2010.

  • Qualifications

    1984  Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania, USA), (English and Cultural Studies)

            Thesis title: "The Place of Woman in the Australian Tradition: A Discourse Analysis"

    1971  M.A.   University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania, USA), Field of English

    1966  B.A.   Duquesne University (Pennsylvania USA), Joint majors in History and Political Science


  • Teaching Interests

    • Australian and Indigenous and non-Indigenous Literary and Visual Cultures

    • Life Writing, Human Rights and Globalisation

    • Narratives of reconciliation in local and global contexts

    • Global feminisms

    • Chinese women writers

    • Research Strategies and Methodologies

  • Research Interests

    current projects:

    • human rights in a digital age 

    • contemporary Chinese women writers and their engagement with feminism

  • Publications


    Decolonizing the Landscape: Indigenous Cultures in Australia eds. Beate Neumeier and Kay Schaffer. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2014.

    Women Writers in Postsocialist China (with Xianlin Song). London & New York: Routledge, 2014.

    丛林、性别与澳大利亚历史的重构 [The Bush, Gender and Constructions of Australian History].  Gen ed. Huang Lin, trans by Huang Ping, et al.  Guilin: Guangxi University Press, 2011.

     Human Rights and Narrated Lives: The Ethics of Recognition (with Sidonie Smith). New York: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2004.

     The Olympics at the Millennium: Performance, Politics and the Games (with Sidonie Smith). New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2000.

     Constructions of Colonialism: Perspectives on Eliza Fraser’s Shipwreck, with Ian Mc Niven and Lynette Russell. London: Cassell/ Leicester University Press, 1998.

    Indigenous Australian Voices: A Reader (with Jennifer Sabbioni and Sidonie Smith).  New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1998. 

    In the Wake of First Contact: The Eliza Fraser Stories.  Melbourne, New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995/6.

     Captured Lives: Australian Captivity Narratives (with Kate Darian-Smith and Roslyn Poignant). London: University of London 1993.

    Women and the Bush: Forces of Desire and the Australian Cultural Tradition. Melbourne, New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987/8.

    Journal Articles:

    with Xianlin Song, “Unruly Spaces: Gender, Women’s Writing and Indigenous Feminism in China”, Journal of Gender Studies 16, 1 (March, 2007), 17-30.

    with Xianlin Song, “Writing Beyond the Wall: Translation, Cross-Cultural Exchange and Chen Ran’s A Private Life”, Portal: Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies 3, 2 (2006).

    with Xianlin Song, “Narrative, trauma and memory: Chen Ran’s A Private Life,Tiananmen Square and female embodiment”, Asian Studies Review 30.2 (June 2006), 161-73.

    “Narrative Lives and Human Rights: The Stolen Generation and the Ethics of Recognition”, Dorothy Green Memorial Lecture, JASAL (Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature),  3 (2004), 5-25.

     with Sidonie Smith, “Human Rights, Storytelling, and the Position of the Beneficiary: Antjie Krog’s Country of my Skull”, PMLA (Publications of the Modern Language Association) 121. 3 (Oct. 2006), 1577-84.

    with Sidonie Smith, “Conjunctions: Life Narratives in the Field of Human Rights”, Biography 27.1 (Win, 2004) 1-24.

    with Emily Potter, “ ‘Rabbit-Proof Fence’, Relational Ecologies and the Comodification of Indigenous Experience”, Australian Humanities Review, 31-32 (2004), 24 pp[article translated into Danish an reprinted in The Poles of Assimilation - Greenland and Aboriginal Australia in a Postcolonial Perspective, ed. by Lars Jensen, Kirsten Holst Petersen, Sanne Kok and Lene Bull Christiansen, Roskilde, Denmark: Cultural Encounters, 2004, 29-40.]

    with Sidonie Smith, “Venues of Storytelling: the circulation of testimony in human rights campaigns”, Life Writing 1.2 (2004), pp. 3-26.

    “Critical Conundrums: Representing the Historical Agency of Women in the Southern African Region” Major  review essay on ‘Women Writing Africa: The Southern Region’ (2003). Ed. by Margaret J. Daymond, Dorothy Driver, Sheila Meintjes, Leloba Molema, Chiedza Musengezi, Margie Orford and Nobantu Rasebotsa, Biography 27.2 (Spring, 2004).

    with Sidonie Smith, “ ‘Land of the Free?”: Circulating Human Rights and Narrated Lives in the United States”, Comparative American Studies 1.3 (2003), 263-84. [revised and reprinted as “ ‘Land of the Free’: Circulating Human Rights and Narrated Lives in the United States”: 109-31. In Intercultural America. Ed. by Alfred Hornung  in collaboration with Winfried Herget and Klaus Lubbers. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2007 ]. 

    "The Stolen Generations and Public Responsibility", Antipodes: A North American Journal of Australian Literature, 16, 2 (Dec., 2002), 4-8.

    “Manne’s Generation: White Nation Responses to the Stolen Generation Report” Australian Humanities Review July-Sept, 2001),

      “Getting over the genocide question—Australian Historiography and the Stolen Generations debates: Review Essay:  Aboriginal History 25 (2001), Special Section: ‘Genocide’?: Australian Aboriginal history in international perspective”, in borderlands [electronic journal]1.2 (Dec., 2002)

    "Cultural Studies at the Millennium: tributes, themes, directions", Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 14,3 (Nov., 2000), 265-75.

    "Women and the Republic: Dancing To a Different Tune?", Hecate 25, 1 (1999), 94-101.
    with Heather Kerr, “Introduction: Postcoloniality/Cultural Studies” Continuum: A Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 13, 3 (Dec., 1999), 301-4.

    "Scare Words: 'Feminism', Postmodernism Consumer Culture and the Media", Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 12, 3 (1998), 321-34.

    "The Contested Zone: Cybernetics, Feminism and Representation", Journal of Australian Studies, 50/51 (1996), 157-64. [Translated and reprinted in Cyberfemininizam. Ed. By Igor Markovic. Zagreb: Centre for Cultural Studies, 1999.]

    "The Eliza Fraser Story and Constructions of Race, Class and Gender in Australian Culture," Hecate: Special Issue on Women/Australia/Theory 17, 1 (1991), 136-149.

    "Trial by Media: The Case of Eliza Fraser" Antipodes: A North American Journal of Australian Literature, 5, 2 (Winter, 1991), 114-120.

    "Australian Mythologies: Eliza Fraser, Sidney Nolan, Patrick White, 'A Fringe of Leaves' and 'Female Sexuality". Kunapipi, 11, 2 (1989), 1-16. Reprinted in Them and Us: New Literatures in English. Ed. By Gordon Collier. Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi Press.

    "Women and the Bush: Australian National Identity and Representations of the Feminine," Antipodes: A North American Journal of Australian Literature, 6 (June, 1989), 7-15.

    "Landscape Representation and Australian National Identity", Australian Journal of Cultural Studies, 4, 2 (September 1987), 47-60.

    "Stripping the Bed Bare-Again", Hecate, 13, 2 (1987/8), 158-160. An earlier version of this paper appears as a Catalogue Essay for an Art Exhibition on Sexuality entitled Stripping the Bed Bare, Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide, November, 1986.

    "Critical Dilemmas: Looking for K[atharine] S[usannah] P[richard]", Hecate 10, 2 (1984), 45-52.
    “Dream, Disillusion, and the Australian Tradition”, Meanjin 38, 3 (1979), pp. 275-285.

     Chapters in Edited Books:

    ‘Wounded spaces/geographies of connectivity: Landscape and Reconciliation in Australian Life Writing’ in Neumeier, Beate and Kay Schaffer, eds. Decolonizing the Landscape:Indigenous Cultures in Australia, Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2014  (forthcoming).

    with Sidonie Smith, “Witnessing in the Digital Age” in Life Writing and Human Rights. Jensen, Meg and Margaritta Jolly, eds. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2014 (forthcoming).

     “‘A Place of Joy and Woe’: Remapping Shanghai in Chen Danyan’s Shanghai Princess’ in Hornung, Alfred and Zhao Baisheng, eds. Ecology and Life Writing. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2013.

    “Testimony, Nation Building and the Ethics of Witnessing: After the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa”: 89-102  in Pathways to Reconciliation, ed. by Cleo Fleming, Paul Komesaroff and Philipa Rothfield. Princeton: Ashgrove Press, 2008.

    Memory Work and Memorialisation in the New South Africa”: 360-79  in Memory, Narrative, and Forgiveness: Perspectives on the Unfinished Journeys of the Past. Ed. by Pumla Gobodo-Madikezela and Chris van der Mewre. Cambridge Scholars Publishers, 2009.

    with Emily Potter, “Beyond the Rabbit-Proof Fence: Audience Response and an Ethic of Care”: 187-201. In Australia: Who Cares? Ed. by David Callahan. Perth: Network Books, 2007.

    “What’s Haunting the Nation?: Responding to Stolen Generation Testimony”: 127-40  in The Regenerative Spirit, Volume I1—Polarities of Home and Away, Encounters and Diasporas in Post-Colonial Literatures. Ed. by Nena Bierbaum, Syd Harrex and Sue Hosking. Adelaide: Lythrum Press, 2004.

    “Transforming Trauma: Post-Tiananmen Narratives and the Chinese Intellectual Diaspora”: 145-57 in The Regenerative Spirit, Volume 1—Polarities of Home and Away, Encounters and Diasporas in Post- Colonial Literatures. Ed. By Nena Bierbaum, Syd Harrex and Sue Hosking. Adelaide: Lythrum Press, 2003.

    “Legitimating the Personal Voice: Shame and the Stolen Generation Testimony in Australia”: 47-63 in Resistance and Reconciliation: Writing in the Commonwealth. Ed. by Bruce Bennett, Susan Cowan, Jacqueline Lo, Satendra Nandan and Jennifer Webb. Canberra: ASAL (Association for the Study of Australian Literature) and UNSW-ADFA, 2003.

    “The Game Girls of VNS Matrix: Challenging Gendered Identities in Cyberspace”: 147-68 in Virtual Gender. Ed. by Mary Ann O’Farrell and Lynne Vallone. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999 [ reprinted in Kim M. Phillips and Barry Reay (eds), Sexualities in History: A Reader: 434-52. New York: Routledge, 2002].

    "Handkerchief Diplomacy: E.J. Eyre and Sexual Politics on the South Australian Frontier":134-50 in Colonial Frontiers: Indigenous-European Encounters in Settler Societies. Ed. By Lynette Russell. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001.

    with  D’Arcy Randall, “Transglobal Translations: The Eliza Fraser and Rachel Plummer Captivity Narratives”: 105-23.: In Colonial and Postcolonial Incarceration. Ed.  by Graeme Harper. Cassell/Leicester University Press, 2001.

    with Sidonie Smith, “The Olympics of the Everyday”: 213-23. In The Olympics at the Millennium: Power, Politics and the Games. Ed. by Kay Schaffer and Sidonie Smith. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2000.

    with Sidonie Smith, “Introduction”: 1-18. In The Olympics at the Millenium: Power, Politics and the Games. Ed. by Kay Schaffer and Sidonie Smith. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2000.

    “ ‘Strictly Ballroom’ or ‘Dances with Wolves’?  How Australian Feminisms Negotiate with Australia’s Nationalist Histories and Mythologies: A Pas de Deux about Identity and Difference”: 29-46 in Australian Nationalism Reconsidered: Maintaining a Monocultural Tradition in a Multicultural Society, Ed. by Adi Wimmer, Tubingen: Stauffenberg Verlag, 1999.

    with Ian Mc Niven and Lynette Russell, “Introduction”: 1-12. In Constructions of Colonialism: Perspectives on Eliza Fraser’s Shipwreck. Ed. by Ian Mc Niven, Lynette Russell and Kay Schaffer.  London: Cassell/Leicester University Press, 1998.

    “‘We are like Eliza’: Twentieth Century Responses to the Eliza Fraser Saga”: 79-96 in Constructions of Colonialism: Perspectives on Eliza Fraser’s Shipwreck.  Ed. by Ian Mc Niven, Lynette Russell and Kay Schaffer. London: Cassell, 1998.

    “Whose Cannibalism?: Consumption, Incorporation and the Colonial Body”: 85-108 in Culture and Colonialism. Ed. by Maíre Ní Flauthúin. Galway: Galway University Press, 1998.

    “Barbara Baynton: Woman as ‘The Chosen Vessel’”: 13-19 in Twentieth Century Literary Criticism.  New York: Gale Research, 1995. [Reprint of previously published article].

    “The Bush and Women” in Studying Australian Culture: An Introductory Reader: 193-224. Ed. by Graeme Turner and Franz Kuna.  Munich, Germany: Kovacs Press, 1994. [Reprint of previously published chapter in Women and the Bush].

    “Colonising Gender in Colonial Australia: The Eliza Fraser Story”:101-­20 in Writing, Women and Space.  Ed. by Gillian Rose and Alison Blunt.  New York: Guilford Press, 1994.

    “Audience Positioning: Viewing Motherhood through A Country Practice’ ”: 42-52 in Tomorrow Never Knows: Soap Opera and Australian Television.  Ed. by Susan Turnbull and Kate Bowles.  Canberra: Australian Film Institute, 1994.

    “Henry Lawson, The Drover's Wife and the Critics”:199-210 in Debutante Nation: Feminism Contests the 1890s.  Ed. by Susan Magarey, Sue Rowley and Susan Sheridan.  Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1993.

    “Australian Mythologies: The Eliza Fraser Story and Constructions of the Feminine in Patrick White’s ‘A Fringe of Leaves’ and Sidney Nolan's Eliza Fraser Paintings,”: 371-83 Them and Us: Translation, Transcription and Identity in Post-Colonial Literary Cultures. Ed. By Gordon Collier. Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi Press,1992.


  • Media Expertise

    CategoriesHuman Rights & Civil Liberties, Aboriginal & Indigenous Issues
    ExpertiseContemporary life writing; race; racism; reconciliation; Australia; Australian culture; women (representations of women in the media - film, magazines, TV, television); human rights campaigns (South Africa, Australia, China); feminism; storytelling and human rights
    NotesAlt phone: (08) 8303 3715
    After hours(08) 8431 5195

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Entry last updated: Sunday, 10 Nov 2019

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