Sue Joseph (PhD) has been a journalist for more than thirty-five years, completing a cadetship at ACP before travelling to Europe in the early '80s. Based in London, she was stringer for several Fleet Street newspapers, national radio and television stations. She also worked on many regional publications in London, and freelanced to publications in Australia, including The Bulletin. Her last post in London was as Managing Editor of two London weekly magazines.
Whilst in London, she also worked closely with John Pilger to help launch the weekly national Sunday tabloid, News on Sunday. Once launched, she worked as Features Editor as well as writing features and news.
Joseph began working as an academic, teaching print journalism at UTS in 1997. In that year, she also published her first book of journalism, She's My Wife; He's Just Sex. Her second book The Literary Journalist and Degrees of Detachment: An Ethical Investigation was published in 2009. Her third book, Speaking Secrets, was published in 2012 with Alto Books. Joseph's fourth book, Behind the Text: Candid conversations with Australian creative nonfiction writers (HybridPublishers) was published in 2016. SHe has co-edited two texts on profile writing: Profile Pieces: Journalism and the 'Human Interest' Bias (Routledge 2016) and The Profiling Handbook (Abramis Academic Publishing 2015); and two texts on memoir writing: Mediating Memory: Tracing the Limits of Memoir (Routledge 2018) and Still There: memoirs of Trauma, Illness and Loss (Routledge 2019).
As Senior Lecturer, Joseph now teaches and supervises journalism and creative writing, particularly creative nonfiction writing and experimental writing, in both undergraduate and postgraduate programs, including Masters, DCA and PhD level.
Member of: Australasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP); International Association of Literary Journalism Studies (IALJS); Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA); Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA); and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU).
Joseph is currently Joint Editor and Reviews Editor of Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics
Can supervise: YES
- sexuality, secrets and confession, framed by the media;
- HIV and women;
- trauma and trauma narrative;
- supervision and ethics;
- memoir and life writing;
- Australian creative nonfiction;
Sue Joseph teaches creative writing, particularly creative nonfiction, and supervises both creative writing and journalism projects. She also supervises Honours, Masters and PhD.
Behind the Text is a celebration of the often forgotten genre of creative nonfiction. Paired with Joseph’s rich descriptions of person and place, this collection of candid interviews brings together some of the best Australian authors, covering everything from traumatic wartime journalism and burning national issues to Middle Eastern spices. In this definitive work, eleven influential authors explore their writing process, ethical dilemmas and connection to the capacious genre. As the first collection of its kind, this work brings Australian creative nonfiction into the literary spotlight.
Speaking Secrets is a non-fiction work which explores voicelessness and the media. It focuses on sexuality secrets and explores what happens when these secrets become public property. Each chapter is written in a literary journalistic style. The genre is used here to intimately explore stories which have - for various reasons - fallen below the radar of mainstream journalism, despite some prior media exposure. This is a book of interviews with people who have disclosed publicly, sexual and sexuality secrets within their lives after sometimes as many as 50 years of never talking about these matters. The interviews in Speaking Secrets, all conducted in Australia, incorporate rape, disability, racism, illness, child sexual abuse, and sexual reassignment. Each interview is framed by the media and secrecy and disclosure. The chapters are first person literary journalism, accompanied by black and white photos. Some of the subjects are well known - others not - but each has reached out publicly via the media to tell and retell their stories, for various and varied reasons.
Joseph, SA 2009, The Literary Journalist and Degrees of Detachment: An Ethical Investigation, 1, Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany.
The Literary Journalist and Degrees of Detachment: an ethical investigation, exlores the complexities of the relationship between the writer and the subject. It does so in the context of the literary journalism genre, examining the role and influence of the narrator in the telling of a subject's story. Further, it considers the various methods of maintaining differing degrees of detachment within the writer/subject relationship and against other factors such as ethical journalistic practice and the journalist's role in upholding notions such as public interest and the public's right to know. Within this investigation of ethical imperatives, the notion of objectivity as it pertains to literary journalism, is examined. This book argues that aiming for accuracy, balance and fairness, in the name of public interest and the public's right to know, is a credo all journalists should aspire to. To position these terms within the umbrella meaning of the word objectivity must not be regarded as antithetical to journalism practice, but something worth practising and teaching.
Joseph, SA 1997, She's my wife, He's just sex, 1, UTS: Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, Australia.
IN 2001 a young Argentinian reporter organised a meeting with a union official named Casimiro Huanca, friend and advisor to then Bolivian guerrilla leader Evo Morales. It would take him 24 hours to get to their meeting place in The Chapare province in Cochabamba, Central Bolivia, through the dangerous depths of the jungle.
Reporting for Clarín, the largest newspaper in Buenos Aires at the time, reporter Pablo Calvi did not make it to the meet in Chimoré. Huanca did; and was gunned down on the spot, murdered by local special troops deployed in the region and paid by the U.S. Calvi did not write the story in 2001. And for 16 years, barely spoke of it, haunted by the belief that he was responsible for this man’s death. In 2016, he returned to Bolivia to find answers, publishing them in Guernica in April 2017.
Through narrative inquiry and textual analysis, this paper investigates the background to this story, unpacking its trauma frame through characterisation and structure. It focuses on the subtle use of the vertical pronoun in the piece, arguing it is an exemplar of narrative placement.
This paper then discusses the setting of this piece of writing as a slice of trauma memoir in postgraduate and undergraduate creative nonfiction classes, in a bid to demonstrate judicious use of first person narration.
Joseph, SA & Watharow, A 2020, 'Immersing in accessibility: creating a pedagogy that is effective, educational – and legal', Text: JOURNAL OF WRITING AND WRITING COURSES.
Looking at pedagogy and immersion through the lens of accessibility, this paper discusses a semester spent teaching life writing to a postgraduate class. One student – a former General Practitioner with a flourishing practice in Sydney – now finds herself profoundly deaf and blind through the onset of a degenerative disease.
The immersive aspects of the class are the legalities and technological needs of accessibility within a tertiary environment; the pedagogic one is creating an equitable space for every student in the classroom; and the cultural aspect surrounds the rights of people living with disability and attempting to learn.
Lecturer and student discuss their semester together, tasking each other with questions about the strengths of the pedagogy undertaken; its weaknesses; mistakes made; lessons learnt; and humorous moments, of which there were several. Within the qualitative frame of narrative inquiry, we individually devised a set of questions, and undertook to rigorously investigate how the other regards the process we have been through during semester.
In a bid to articulate and then reflect upon this classroom space, we hope to contribute to the scant canon of accessibility and education narratives, framed by the strengthening legal structures devised to make all welcome in tertiary institutions.
There is shock in realising your parents are ageing. It is a state so easy not to acknowledge until there is personal and violent catastrophe — that abyssal line between before and after.
This essay is derivative from two other artefacts: a poem and an essay. I draw on both as a backgrounding and progressive consciousness, to write what I regard as the third instalment in the narrative surrounding the demise of our aging mother; our champion. Not only drawing on, but appropriating two ecological theories: abyssal line and slow violence, I argue that both metaphorically go to the heart of the loss and grief of losing a beloved parent, slowly. I argue that the slow expiration, or disappearance, of a person is an ecological event when the human body as a discrete environment slowly loses its agency as it ages, within its familial environment.
I have chosen the braided essay form as I wish to explore and develop my ideas around appropriating both ecological theories — abyssal line and slow violence — into my family’s personal loss of mother/wife/sister/aunt through a series of catastrophic moments, followed by slow demise in palliative care. The metaphor is clear in my mind — a cataclysmic event created a before and after moment; then witnessing this protracted breaking apart of a loved one, slowly and brutally. A braided essay lends itself to this telling, as Walker writes: ‘The further apart the threads of the braid, the more the essay resists easy substitutions and answers’ (Walker 2017). I wish to test her hypothesis with an inward familial gaze.
Joseph, S, Rickett, C, Northcote, M, Christian, B & Seddon, J 2019, 'Peripheries and praxis: the effect of rubric co-construction on student perceptions of their learning', TEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Programs, vol. October, no. 57.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
The construction of assessment rubrics is often educator-centric as lecturers work in isolation to compose grading tools. While there is a pedagogical goal to construct instruments that align with learning outcomes and guide the assessment of students’ learning, students are often at the periphery of this process. In many higher education institutions, students are accustomed to receiving assessment feedback but they are not, typically, active participants in the feedback cycle. Increasingly, institutions are seeking evidence of greater student engagement in their tertiary learning experience. Accordingly, academics seek to innovate practice and enhance curricula by creating more opportunities for student involvement, thus creating a shared understanding of it and associated assessment tasks.
Responding to a gap in rubric construction practice, this paper discusses an Office for Learning and Teaching Innovation and Development Grant research project where students moved from being rubric users to being central participants in collaborative design. Drawing on data collected from a team of rubric co-constructors from one Sydney university campus – first year students and an academic in a creative non-fiction writing subject – we set out to answer the following question: What effect does the co-construction and use of rubrics have on students’ perceptions of their learning?
Found poetry borrows from other writers—from different writings, artefacts, and sources—always attributing and referencing accurately. In this paper, regional daily newspapers and their front page headlines are privileged as primary texts, the Found Poetry performing as nonfiction lyrical collage, with applied rules, nestling beside them.
Considering the notion that contemporary poetry ‘inhabits language’, this paper uses three forms of Found Poetry – erasure, free-form and research – to test and demonstrate both literally and metaphorically, its veracity. Implicitly nonfiction, these poems create a nuanced and rhythmic lineated transcript of Australian life, derived from regional legacy newspapers, while they endure. Furthermore, using a comparative textual method, the aesthetics of Found Poetry is established visually.
This paper is the second in a series derived from the beginnings of a research project into Australian legacy newspaper stories and Found Poetry. The first was a sequence of prose poems; this second collection is lineated and contributes to the notion of poetry mediating and enriching our understanding of the reality of the everyday.
Joseph, SA, Rickett, C, Northcote, M & Christian, B 2019, '‘Who are you to judge my writing?’: Student collaboration in the co-construction of assessment rubrics', New Writing: the international journal for the practice and theory of creative writing.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Collaborative models of involving students in the co-construction of assessment rubrics are rare. Inviting students to take part actively in the design of assessment rubrics is one method of filling this research gap, potentially garnering a shared understanding of assessment requirements. Rubrics traditionally are constructed by educators, based on set criteria, in order to streamline grading more cohesively and equitably. But research demonstrates that assessment rubric use is usually of more benefit to the educator in grading, than to the student in undertaking the assessment task – the educator understands requirements but often specific requirements are not clear to the student. Using a multiple case study research approach which incorporated a modified Delphi method to gather expert views on rubrics, the study outlined in this paper explores the outcomes of collaborating with students at the rubric design stage of the assessment process. This paper discusses the rubric co-construction process facilitated by a writing lecturer and a team of students from one university who took part in collaborating and developing an assessment rubric. The processes adopted to implement this co-construction process are reported, the products of which were distributed to a 250-student cohort, and reflects on the value of this pedagogical innovation.
Joseph, S & Dale, A 2018, 'To edit or not to edit? Why is editing academic collections not recognised in the Humanities?', TEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Programs, vol. Special edition, no. 51, pp. 1-11.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Edited academic books garner neither research metric nor institutional praise,
compared to peer reviewed journal articles or monographs. For the editor, there
seems no reason to undertake such volumes. But we still do them; we still edit
or co-edit them. Louise Edwards claims there are many good reasons why
academics persist in editing (and reading) this type of academic output, her
prime one being that they ‘meet a series of distinct intellectual and community
needs’ (Edwards 2012: 62). This paper brings together two academics who
have both contributed to and edited or co-edited such volumes. The scope of
the paper is their experiences in editing and co-editing, in order to open up a
discussion about the worth of such volumes: why, despite the university’s
reluctance to recognise them as either creative or research outputs, academics
continue to regard editing as a meaningful scholarly pursuit; and importantly,
as we clearly do value these undertakings, how can institutional attitudes to
their merit be changed? The co-authors discuss their own personal ethos and
experiences about editing and co-editing these texts. This paper stems from a
panel at the 2017 AAWP conference, an open dialogue with the audience
facilitated by a collegial interlocutor, Dr Carolyn Rickett, herself a co-editor of
Joseph, SA 2018, 'Stan Grant and cultural memory: Embodying a national race narrative through memoir', Ethical Space: the international journal of communication ethics, vol. 15, no. 3/4, pp. 34-45.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
As a journalist for more than 30 years, his face and voice are immediately recognisable. But throughout the 1990s to many in Australia – watching Stan Grant anchor a commercial television current affairs programme every night as they ate their dinner – no one could guess at his untold story. He has written two memoirs. The first is the voice of a confused, angry, perhaps fearful young man. This voice melds his personal story as quest – of family, loves, pain, career and torment – into the national race narrative. For Stan Grant is a proud Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi man and his story importantly ‘untells’ much of the white Australian history of central and south western NSW, before disclosing his own struggle with race and racism in his land. Ten years later and in response to a notorious moment in 2013 on an Australian sporting field, Grant writes a newspaper column which attracts more than 100,000 hits on social media. He follows this with his second memoir. This voice is calmer, less angry but perhaps sadder. It performs as a collective and cultural remembering of the Australian First Nations and implicitly, an advocacy manifesto to a nation still struggling with racial tensions. Through textual analysis of both texts, and with the inclusion of further paratextual material, including his Quarterly Essay, this paper sets out to discuss Grant’s application of life writing/memoir practice to penetrate the race debate in Australia in an attempt to effect change.
Joseph, SA 2017, 'Found poetry as literary cartography: Mapping Australia with prose poems', TEXT JOURNAL OF WRITING AND WRITING COURSES, vol. Beyond the line: contemporary prose poetry, no. Special Issue No 46, pp. 1-17.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Found poetry is lyrical collage, with rules. Borrowing from other writers – from different writings, artefacts, sources – it must always attribute and reference accurately.
This paper is derived from the beginnings of a research project into
Australian legacy newspaper stories and found poetry as prose poetry,
explaining the rationale behind the bigger project. Ethnographic in texture at its edges, the research project sets out to create poetic renditions of regional news of the day, circumnavigating the continent. My aim is to produce a cadenced and lyrical nonfiction transcript of Australian life, inspired by and appropriated from regional legacy media, while it still exists.The beginning of the research was a recce journey to the centre of Australia in 2016. Currently, the outcomes of the recce are six poems, five of which are nonfiction prose poems. Contextualising found poetry within the prose poetry genre – a long debated and hybrid space – the theoretical elements of this paper underpin its creative offerings.
Joseph, SA 2017, 'The Essay as Polemical Performance: ‘salted genitalia’ and the ‘gender card’', TEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Programs, vol. Special, no. 39, pp. 1-16.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
On October 9, 2012, the then Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard rose to her feet in Canberra’s Parliament House, and in response to a motion tabled by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, delivered her blistering Misogyny Speech. Although Gillard’s speech was met with cynicism by the Australian Press Gallery, some accusing her of playing the ‘gender card’, it reverberated around the world and when the international coverage poured back into the country, ordinary Australians stood up and listened.
One of them was author, essayist, classical concert pianist and mother, Anna Goldsworthy.
Shortly after the delivery of The Misogyny Speech, Quarterly Essay editor Chris Feik approached Goldsworthy to write the 50th essay for the Black Inc. publication, his idea to view it through a cultural lens. It took several months to research and compose, resulting in Unfinished Business: Sex, Freedom and Misogyny. The issue was launched at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne on July 1, 2013, five days after Julia Gillard was deposed from her Prime Ministership.
This paper takes a look back at the 50th issue of the Quarterly Essay, to discuss with its author her essay-writing process and the aftermath of publication. Goldsworthy is erudite as she looks at the construction of the essay, its contents and her love of essay writing. Although she confesses to not having a definition for the form, she believes it does not matter; that its fluidity is a basic constituent element. Her love of language and music inform both the breadth of her essay, as well as its narrative – there is lyricism to her sentences and a musicality to her structure.
This paper also contextualises Unfinished Business as an example of the crucial long form essay contribution that Black Inc.’s Quarterly Essay performs in the Australian literary/ political/ cultural/ intellectual environment. There were critics of Goldsworthy’s essay, and these are assessed as a component of how ‘the essay’ can function in a liberal F...
Joseph, SA & Latona, F 2017, 'Guiding life writers: The supervision of creative doctoral work interrogating personal trauma', New Writing: the international journal for the practice and theory of creative writing, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 23-35.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
There exists much literature on the student and doctoral candidate relationship across the disciplines. However, there is a gap in understanding this crucial dynamic in the context of creative practices, and an even more pronounced gap interrogating the supervisor to candidate dynamic when a student is conducting life writing involving personal trauma. Despite this, more and more universities are opening their doors to these types of research projects.
In 2014, a final year doctoral candidate in life writing and her supervisor conducted a mini research project about their experience of supervision. The crux of their investigation hinged on the relatively nuanced requirements of supervision when the candidate is writing about personally traumatic themes in their dissertation.
This paper is an extension of their original findings, amalgamating conclusions about what worked in the context of their relationship, given the delicate nature of the subject matter that they were investigating academically, and existing literature on the ethics of such supervision and theories of trauma writing in the context of life writing.
By combining their analysis of their real experiences as supervisor and candidate, and preexisting academic thought on both the requirements of supervision and the differing needs of post-trauma students, the authors seek to contribute to the growing canon within the creative practices on supervisor/candidate relationships, as well as the relatively fraught ethics of the commodification of life experiences within tertiary institutions.
Joseph, SA & Rickett, C 2017, 'Embedding, embellishing and embarrassing: Brian Williams ‘misremembers’ but social media reminds him', Ethical Space: the international journal of communication ethics, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 32-41.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
“It felt like a personal experience that someone else wanted to participate in and didn’t deserve to participate in.”
Brian Williams enjoyed the trust of his organisation and audience for 10 years as NBC’s Nightly News anchor and Managing Editor. But on the night of January 30, 2015 during a broadcast, his high profile status began to unravel.
Venerated as a reliable news source, Williams was forced to explain his legendary story of survival one day in the skies above the Iraq War. His version of an attack on a Chinook helicopter he was travelling in was circulated and valorised by his own corporation for 12 years. But when American soldier Lance Reynolds and other military challenged the veracity of his version of historical events, the corporation was forced to suspend him.
Williams equates his rewriting and false reporting of this historical event as an act of ‘misremembering’. This assertion is a clear breach of how the Society of Professional Journalists missions its American members: ‘ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity’.
NBC responded to this breach by suspending Williams for six months. However, the focus of this paper is audience response and the ways in which the production of new online texts, in the form of satirical memes, ubiquitously serves to critique and ridicule Williams’ claim of ‘misremembering’. And as such, the circulation of these online memes which re-appropriate historical moments, lend themselves in turn to the manufacture of parodic artefacts.
Joseph, SA & Rickett, C 2017, 'Supervisor's Perspectives on the Ethical Supervision of Long Form Writing and Managing Trauma Narrative within the Australian Tertiary Sector', Ethical Space: the international journal of communication ethics, vol. 14, no. (2/3), pp. 61-71.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human situation.
Miller and Tougaw observe, “If every age has its symptoms, ours appears to be the age of trauma”. Their observation may help explain the emergence of memoir and autobiographical or autoethnographic creative works, not just commercially but also within the tertiary sector. Almost all of this work is appearing within journalism, English and creative writing schools as students turn to creative practice degrees as a means to write through traumatic events.
The focus of this paper is to report on the findings of a qualitative research project where a range of Australian academics supervising trauma narrative HDR candidates were interviewed regarding what their needs are in relation to the ethical supervision of their candidates. This paper will also contribute to a better understanding of the supervisory relationship pertinent to candidates undertaking their own personal trauma narrative research and the ways in which academics can provide a safer space for both themselves and Research by Higher Degree students.
Rickett, C & Joseph, SA 2017, 'Beyond this point here be dragons: consideration and caution for supervising HDR writing trauma projects', TEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Programs, vol. 42, no. Special Issue Writing Trauma, pp. 1-15.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
As memoir and autobiographical/ autoethnographic texts flourish in the market place, so this emergence is reflected in the tertiary sector. Mostly sited within journalism, English and creative writing schools, accordingly a proportion of these texts incorporate trauma narrative as students turn to creative practice degrees as a means to write through disruptive autobiographical events.
Accordingly, supervisors of HDR candidates undertaking long form trauma narrative find themselves more and more immersed in the trauma, bearing witness to their students’ potential unease. We argue that this type of supervision may potentially necessitate a differentiated management approach, with the establishment of additional protocols, informed by the potential dangers of re-traumatisation of the candidate; and vicarious traumatisation of the supervisor.
The aim of this paper is to report on some of the preliminary findings of a qualitative research project  where a range of Australian academics supervising Higher Degree Research (HDR) candidates writing about traumatic experiences were interviewed regarding supervisory protocols and practices. Here we focus on selected insights from supervisors who responded to one of the interview questions: ‘what do you consider the potential risks for a student and a supervisor involved in HDR projects framed by trauma narrative?’ We anticipate this paper will provide helpful perspectives from experienced academics for early career supervisors about to embark on trauma shaped projects.
Joseph, SA 2016, 'AUSTRALIAN LITERARY JOURNALISM AND ‘MISSING VOICES’: how Helen Garner finally resolves this recurring ethical tension', Journalism Practice, vol. 10, no. 6, pp. 730-743.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Australian author Helen Garner has written three of the most debated literary journalism texts in Australia in the past 20 years. All book-length, all literary in articulation, all dealing with traumatic legal cases—but all with crucial missing voices. Choosing to write into trauma as both witness and story-teller, Garner creates a certain inter-subjectivity throughout her work: her voice is witness to others’ traumas; and as a character within the texts, story-teller of those traumas. But there is a recurring component of voicelessness in each of the three texts which will be delineated and discussed in this paper, with the principal focus on her latest text, This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trial. How does Garner manage to tell the story ethically when the main protagonists refuse her interview? With this absence of voice, is this text still an ethical rendering?
Joseph, S 2015, 'Australia's First Female Prime Minister and Gender Politics: Long form counterpoints', Journalism Practice, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 250-264.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Book length or long form is where much of Australia's literary journalism is sited. As such, this paper examines three long-form contributions to the recent Australian gender discourse garnered by the prime ministership of Julia Gillard. Julia Gillard was Australia's 27th—and first female—Prime Minister. She came to office determined that gender had not—and would not—play a part in her tenure. She left office embroiled in a gender struggle of acts and words and images unimaginable before they occurred. The media, the Opposition, members of her own party and ordinary Australians took part in a collective denigration of her reputation professionally, politically and personally. It continued unabated for three years, growing in intensity, and only towards the end of her leadership was it truly comprehensively contested in the public sphere; and then, mainly by women writers, writing in the long form. Between April and July 2013, six texts appeared, all either written or edited by women, constellating the notions of gender during and in the wake of Prime Minister Gillard's leadership. This paper examines three of them, long-form counterpoints to the popular and electronic media vilification of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. In so doing, the paper examines the usage of the words “sexism” and “misogyny” as they were applied in Australia throughout this time.
Joseph, SA 2015, 'Preferring ‘dirty’ to ‘literary’ journalism: in Australia, Margaret Simons challenges the jargon while producing the texts', Literary Journalism Studies, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 101-117.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Australian literary journalism has neither a discrete nor recognisable community of authors as compared to the United States and the United Kingdom. In Australia, writers in the field do not label themselves as such and indeed, most are surprised when it is suggested their work falls within the parameters of Northern Hemisphere specificities for the genre.
Commensurate with contemporary international examination, more than thirteen years ago in Australia, preliminary debate was initiated about the term ‘creative non-fiction’ in an attempt to identify an Australian canon. In more recent years, two other terms – book length or long form journalism – have been offered. But, similar to the rest of the global polemic, none ever seem to settle.
The determination to find a label has its genesis within the academy and mostly, only those writers who work within the academy or have worked within the academy are really privy to the debates. Australian academic, award-winning journalist and author, and social commentator Margaret Simons prefers to speak of a ‘disinterested’ and ‘dirty’ journalism rather than using the term ‘literary’. Ironically, she is one of Australia’s leading literary journalists.
This paper is based on an interview with Simons which interrogated her own extensive literary journalism as a sub-genre within the overarching frame of creative non-fiction and an analysis of one of her award winning texts. As both an academic and a journalist, her perspective is multi layered.
Australian creative practice researchers are not alone in their quest for an appropriate framework for human ethics research committee consent. Globally, there seem to be similar tensions. Although Australia's National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research was revamped in 2007 to be more inclusive of specific creative practice research, including long-form journalism and other creative non-fiction writing, many tertiary Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs) have not evolved with it. Instead, a conservative stasis pertaining to the previous medical/scientific paradigm remains the default position. This paper details a submission to an Australian university's HREC calling for a human ethics application process that more appropriately contextualises creative practice human research. Additionally, it proposes an informed consent letter that addresses tensions around the withdrawal of data based on the journalistic practice of on the record/off the record. The revised Australian National Statement has given creative practice-led academics the ability to improve the ethical clearance processthe mechanisms are there within the National Statement. By highlighting the counter-productive restraints and constraints some conservative HRECs still place on the functioning of journalistic and other creative non-fiction writing research within universities, this paper calls for a uniform and national collaboration to investigate review other than by HREC as a matter of urgency for all Australian journalism and creative practice researchers, based on the more intuitive and streamlined content model already utilised at a UK university.
Memoir writing and publishing has surged in recent years and this pattern is reflected in a surge in the number of students seeking to undertake degrees in auto-ethnographic creative non-fiction writing within tertiary institutions, specifically in relation to their own personal trauma. This paper discusses attempts to implement a pedagogical model to facilitate the supervision of students seeking to write trauma narrative, positing that because of the nature of their writing, they are closer to further psychic injury throughout the process than students not undertaking trauma writing. The result is that specialised attention is warranted and necessary, and indeed without specialised care, the offering of such degrees within tertiary settings could be framed as ethically fraught. The paper will discuss the current pedagogical model, and its implementation. But then will look at a case study where the model fell dramatically short. The ensuing argument is that the model should only ever be regarded as a default to be constantly developed. It argues that students choosing to undertake life writing around personal trauma are exposed to further psychic danger as a direct result of their studies, and must be seen as individuals, with specific and hyper-vigilant supervision needs.
Joseph, SA 2013, 'The Morally defensible journalist: Shedding 'performance' and managing an ethic of empathy within personal narrative trauma', Ethical Space, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 8-15.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Janet Malcolm penned the infamous `morally indefensible' phrase more than twenty years ago concerning journalism practice and, despite the length of time, its application is a bench-marking filter through which ethical journalism must still emerge. Drawing on my experience of being interviewed by the media, I examine the performative aspect of profile writing, seeking a model of variant `morally defensible' positions dependent on a public interest test. In seeking to subvert the notion of a popular trauma culture that deems a subject a victim for mass media consumption for no good reason other than entertainment - a `morally indefensible' space - this paper suggests that in an interview focusing on a trauma narrative, when handled ethically and empathetically, both the subject and the journalism practitioner have an opportunity to metaphorically converge. They eventually leave any notion of performance and identity construct behind, as the power of the narrative creates a transparent space. When handled ethically according to the telling by the subject, both the impulse by the trauma subject to tell and the empathetic responses and re-renderings of the journalist join to form a type of advocacy journalism - in the public interest.
Framed historically from the 1700s, Doug Underwood's text presents as a catalogue of some of the more feted of the American and British "journalist-literary figures" and their work. As an embrace of a specific literary canon, the text takes as another concept the notion of trauma within the childhood and youth of the writers, as well as how this trauma seemingly catapulted many face to face with further trauma in their selected field of journalism, before finally inspiring their fiction writing.
There is often a moment or moments during an interview where the subject's deeply personal experience intersects with the narrative process; "an eloquent episode" on which the central significance of an entire story resonates. Drawing on a sequence of interviews with subjects telling deeply hidden, long held secrets, this paper will examine a series of micro moments within each account, both for their narrative power as well as their fundamental consequence to the narrative or macro process. Many of the buried stories in this paper are of traumatic memory, circulating around sexuality, or sexual and violent secrets. Attendant to this is the ethical management of such moments at the time of interview, as well as their subsequent reduction to written words by the interviewer. Incorporating a reflective practice into the text in combination with the undertaking of an ethical practice is to only increase the power of the story, and authenticate further the voice of the secondary story teller. By focusing on "the eloquent episode" or micro moment, and expanding its bounds, it is the intention of this paper to highlight it as a literary device that reinforces the power of the telling of the story, authenticating not just the voice of the primary storyteller but the narrative. http://www.textjournal.com.au
Joseph, SA 2012, 'The ethical challenges in unmasking secrets', Ethical Space, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 11-13.
Sue Joseph's latest publication is built around a series of fascinating interviews exploring peoples secrets covering various taboos: rape, child sexual abuse, sexual reassignment, race, disability and sexuality. Here she explores some of the difficult ethical issues involved when revealing personal secrets
Figures confirm that Australians avidly read their creative non-fiction. But most would be unable to name the genre; it is not as widely defined or discussed in Australia as it is in the USA and UK, where it is actively debated and anthologised. This paper goes to the heart of the genre in Australia, investigating through narrative interview why there is not more of an Australian voice in this international debate. It examines the perspectives and views of twelve of the country's most widely read, awarded and respected creative non-fiction authors, drawing them into the discussion. There appears a wide spread disinterest from those who write creative non-fiction in this country to label it as such. But a disinterest in categorisation does not discredit the validity of the writing - indeed, this disinterest lends itself to an idiosyncratic character, or one of many 'different national manifestations' around the world. The writings of creative non-fiction authors in Australia are an integral part of a social history, and as such must be studied and collated as our own 'cultural pathway'. The international debate is an important one to take part in, as a collective impetus grows to legitimise the genre as a collection of differing national cultural assets.
The journalism industry has only recently begun to embrace reflective practice in response to trauma in journalists, but it substantially ignores empathy. This article examines six narratives of trauma subjects from the manuscript Speaking Secrets. Framing the subjectsâ recounts as a form of advocacy journalism, particular focus is given to the role of empathy in eliciting and retelling trauma stories, and its effects on the journalist. This article argues for greater discussion of empathy as an ethical tool of journalism within the industry and academy, and a remedy to public distrust, rather than a notion regarded by most as antithetical.
This paper seeks to interrogate some of the ethical and procedural concerns that arise from supervising students who create literary artifact by drawing on personal trauma, specifically in the writing of sexual abuse and death of the 'other'. One of the burgeoning impulses in creative nonfiction is the chronicling of personal tragedy in memoir. Literary enterprises such as this raise ethical questions for student authors and the academics who supervise their projects. Much has been written in mainstream media about ethical transgression purporting to the veracity of memoir texts but little theory has been produced within academia in addressing the ethical and pedagogical tensions constellating the supervision of life writing on trauma, and how to navigate these. This paper will contribute to the ongoing discussions around the theory and praxis of the autobiographical 'I' and the minimisation and management of potential harm that can result from retelling trauma narratives. Drawing on two case studies demonstrating a problematic then relatively smooth trajectory in supervising creative projects of memoir, this paper posits a comparative supervision pedagogy and outcome as a study in the refinement of professional practice.
Ever since Tom Wolfe wrote a 13-page essay entitled 'The Birth of the New Journalism: eyewitness report by Tom Wolfe' in the 1970s, debate has raged over the nature of this New Journalism or literary journalism or creative non-fictions. Yet geographically, the debate has been confined to the United States and the United Kingdom. Australia has remained notably silent on the issue. One thing is certain, no matter where the debate was bornâthe nomenclature would not be definitive. There is no consensus among media theorists about an appropriate name. This paper investigates the history of the US and UK evolution of the genre pre- and post-Tom Wolfe. Drawing on new research, it then adds Australian voices to the 'naming' debate. Creative non-fiction courses are in high demand within the Australian academy. Coupled with the advent of contemporaneous Internet news, this paper suggests that perhaps Australian newspapers should recognise and exploit this genre to reinvigorate its backgrounding news sections, investing journalists with more time, space and resources to write within the genre on running news stories of the day.
In 1950s northern Queensland, a pack of eighteen to twenty white youth drove a young black teenager to a deserted spot, and gang raped her, believing they had hidden their crime by killing her. Not only did she survive and grow up to have a prestigious academic and activist career, but she conceived a child in the attack, kept her baby and brought him up. Writer and academic Dr Roberta Sykes kept the secret of her sons conception from him for more than thirty years, finally writing him a letter about it. Psychologist Russel Sykes speaks about dealing with his mothers revelations, both the private and then the public airing in her trilogy Snake Dreaming, Autobiography of a Black Woman. Contextualising this narrative within the genre of literary journalism, its execution delves into theoretical discussions of empathy, first person narration and ethics when dealing with traumatic memory in subjects. It argues for an embracing of more first person use, as well as the loosening of the attendant stranglehold of detachment, teaching empathy as an effective tool within journalism education in Australia, particularly within the long form literary journalism.
Joseph, S 2019, ''I am that Girl': How the Saxon Mullins Case Disrupted Consent Laws in New South Wales' in Joseph, S & Keeble, RL (eds), Sex and Journalism: Critical, Global Perspectives, Bite-Sized Books, Goring, United Kingdom, pp. 29-36.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
As a survivor of sexual assault, Saxon Mullins’ anonymity is by law, set in stone. So it was a riveting moment on May 6, 2018 to wake up in Australia to her face and her voice, telling her story in her own words.
Excerpts from a May 7 Four Corners programme flew around the country on social media the day before. On Facebook and Twitter, the Fairfax media company and the ABC ensured a prime audience for the ABC flagship current affairs programme, 24 hours before it went to air. The ABC News social media also carried excerpts, further broadening the reach and impact of her story.
Almost five years prior to the day, Mullins was raped in an alley behind a Kings Cross Sydney nightclub, by the owner’s son. He was found guilty by a jury, and served 11 months before his appeal was heard. He was then acquitted by a judge, that judge agreeing that Mullins did not give consent – but saliently, she believed the attacker did not know that.
This paper aims to analyse the Four Corners televised story of the Mullins’ rape case, as well as the ABC’s online publication coverage the day before, tracking its impact by analysing further media coverage the next day. It was the day after the Four Corners screening that the legal fall-out from the full story was realised: based on the programme content, NSW Attorney General announced a review of the state’s sexual consent laws stating Mullins has started: "… an important conversation on the nature of consent".
Joseph, SA 2019, 'Life-writing and incremental healing: word by word, year by year' in Avieson, B, Giles, F & Joseph, S (eds), Still Here: Memoirs of Trauma, Illness and Loss, Routledge (Taylor and Francis), New York.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This paper tracks the trajectory of a life writing project through tertiary education to publication, and beyond. From a rocky pedagogical beginning, with clinical ramifications, student and academic discuss their individual experiences of the process, and trace the lessons learnt, from each perspective.
The memoir was written and published under a pseudonym at the time. The former candidate discusses that decision and why she would make a different one today. As such, she continues the incremental ownership of her life writing story of the systematic abuse when she was a child, growing up in Melbourne, at the hands of an extended family member.
The paper looks at the writing as therapy literature as a means to demonstrate that it may not have immediate affect on life writers, but incremental. The former candidate’s memoir, when first published, became a top seller of a large Australian bookstore chain for many weeks.
Joseph, SA 2018, 'Australia's Elisabeth Wynhausen and a Century of Gonzo Ethnography' in Alexander, R & Isager, C (eds), Fear and Loathing Worldwide: Gonzo Journalism Beyond Hunter S. Thompson, Bloomsbury, New York, pp. 87-111.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This chapter argues for a taxonomic Gonzo ethnography spanning more than a century, beginning with Jack London and George Orwell, through the pivotal Hunter S. Thompson and onwards to Barbara Ehrenreich, finally claiming a space for Elisabeth Wynhausen's work within this genealogy. Contextualizing Wynhausen's text with tho e of the other authors, this chafJter a1'gues that her auto-ethnographic rendering talus on a Gonzo mantle because of her idiosyncratic voice and its socio-political impetus. Both drive the narrative in Dirt Cheap: Life at the Wrong End of the Job Market, creating an acerbic Australian contemporary commentary on power class, and the invisible underclasses that she johis brle y
Joseph, SA & Rickett, C 2018, 'To Begin to Know: Resolving ethical tensions in David Leser’s patriographical work' in Joseph, S, Avieson, B & Giles, F (eds), Mediating Memory: Tracing the Limits of Memoir, Routledge (Taylor and Francis), New York, pp. 237-250.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Resolving the binary oppositions of loyalty/betrayal and privacy/shared ownership frequently problematizes the practice of those writers producing patriographical/matriographical texts. David Leser is an award-winning journalist, one of Australia's most prolific profile and feature writers. He has worked as a Middle East and Washington DC correspondent, and as feature writer for the Murdoch, Packer and Fairfax organizations. David Leser's professional writing career spans decades so he is familiar with the forms and audiences shaping and driving the publication industry. Reflecting on the therapeutic nature of writing memoir, Leser decides in the end that the reading of books/the act of reading books can be just as therapeutic. There are few moments where a memoirist can escape the interconnectivity between their own story and the story of another - the assertion of their own voice while simultaneously considering the possible violation of someone else's privacy. And of course, an ethical memoirist gives due consideration to harm minimization.
Joseph, SA 2016, 'Harmer, Humor and the Hoopla: In the Vanguard of Australian Female Comedy' in Swick, D & Keeble, RL (eds), The Funniest Pages, International Perspectives on Humor in Australia, Peter Lang Publishing, New York, pp. 205-220.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
I prefer that laughter shall take me unawares. Only so can it master and dissolve me (Beerbohm 1921: 42).A thing is funny when—in some way that is not actually offensive or frightening—it upsets the established order. Every joke is a tiny revolution(Orwell 1945).More than a quarter of a century ago, Australian comedian, journalist and author Wendy Harmer compiled and wrote the first book on Australian women’s humor, (1989).In the preface, she claims that she is seeking ‘to redress the balance’ (Harmer 1989: 7) of the missing canon on Australian female comedians. Where there were copious texts on humor and men, women were conspicuous due to their absence. This chapter, firstly discussing humor through a scholarly lens, goes back to claims and observations made in compiling her book, to interrogate a life spent in the comedic spotlight (including being Editor-in-Chief of , an online web news magazine for women) and compare what she believed then to what she believes now from lived experience.Harmer has been an enduring comedic voice in Australia since the 1980s, first recognized in 1983 for the comedy show series , with Maryanne Fahey. Then she was asked to write for the with John Clarke from 1984–1985 on (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) television. In 1989, she was the first woman to host her own television comedy show, (1989–1992), based on the British TV show .
Joseph, SA 2016, 'The Empathetic Profiler and Ethics: Trauma Narrative As Advocacy' in Joseph, SA & Keeble, RL (eds), Profile Pieces: Journalism and the ‘Human Interest’ Bias, Routledge, New York, USA; Oxon, UK, pp. 211-226.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
A definition of empathy in its simplest form is to imagine ourselves in another’s shoes. This chapter posits the near impossibility of attaining that within a trauma narrative interview, implicitly because of the trauma and attendant horrors, and that impossibility informing a response beyond empathy. Trauma narrative tends toward an almost fundamental form of the profile, as it usually interrogates the rawest of moments in an individual’s life – often life changing, with intense ramifications, commented upon not just by the subject but those around the subject.
Joseph, SA 2016, 'The exegesis, autoethnography and the ethical management of enactive practice' in Kroll, J, Melrose, A & Webb, J (eds), Old and New, Tried and Untested: creativity and research in the 21st century university, Common Ground Publishing, Champaign Illinois, pp. 107-122.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Defining research methodologies within the creative practices has been a controversial and fraught issue throughout Australian tertiary programmes. Academics appropriate existing conceptual theoretical paradigms to greater and lesser degrees; while other academics argue that ‘practice’ itself is the heart of the research, putting practice-led research forward as the discipline’s core methodology. The latter is harder to argue in terms of a government funding model, causing ongoing frustration throughout the creative Australian academy. Attempting to create a third approach, this paper argues that the techniques of an ‘enactive methodology’ within practice-led and creative higher degree research are also applicable and viable, potentially providing a solid model akin to scientifically reproducing ‘results’. Subsequently, this paper also looks briefly at the ethical imperative of supervising students interrogating their own trauma narrative in a tertiary institution, flagging a pedagogical model of ethical supervision. Focussing on written long form trauma narrative through the HDR supervision process, this paper interrogates six enactive methodologies utilised by four students within their creative component, then interrogated in the exegetical component of candidate research constellating notions of: living with an alcoholic parent; death of a parent; child sexual abuse; and life as a child refugee.
Joseph, SA & Keeble, RL 2016, 'Profiling-Painting a Picture in Words Introduction' in Profile Pieces Journalism and the 'Human Interest' Bias, Routledge, UK, pp. 1-13.
Joseph, SA & Rickett, C 2014, 'David Shields' way of making: Creative manoeuvre or HDR nightmare?' in Strange, S, Hetherington, P & Webb, J (eds), Creative ManoeuvresWRITINGMAKINGBEING, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK, pp. 127-139.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Joseph, SA 2013, ''Don't Write Crap': Journalism Ethics and Moral Imperatives' in Knight Alan (ed), Challenge and Change: Reassessing Journalism's Global Future, UTS ePress, Sydney, pp. 126-156.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
In the wake of the News of the World hacking scandal, there was a metaphorical and self-righteous global sigh that here, finally, was concrete and over-arching 'proof' to substantiate the ubiquitous discourse that indeed journalists, and their profession, behave unethically to get their stories; often criminally. The collective rationale made sense at the time, and as its more than 300 witnesses streamed to give evidence at The Leveson Inquiry: Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press in London throughout nine months of investigation, this rationale was not simply proven; substantive elements were extended. The Leveson Inquiry testimony and findings are not only as shocking as was suspected; they are worse. And as a treatise of how a hierarchy of power manages to exert an insidious downwardly vertical pressure, manifesting at the feet of sometimes the most vulnerable in a newsroom, it makes compelling reading. Concurrently but not as lengthy, and certainly not as broad, the Finkelstein Report in Australia has led to some of the most hotly debated notions of press freedom in this country for many decades. Politicians, academics, analysts, social commentators and members of the public weighed into a media legislation debate, still to be resolved. But where does that leave journalism practitioners now? Still tenaciously wedged between the people and government agencies; the people and the 'big' business end of town; the people and bureaucracy; the guardians, and attendant to that, the gatekeepers of the free flow of information between the people and the institutions, and policy makers who make the decisions. Is there a universal public interest test that can be rendered and applied, across the board, to shore up the existing journalism code of ethics, ironically so easily side-stepped with the existing public interest 'out clause'? To date, evidence suggests that media self-regulation is a notion regarded with an almost contemptuous arrogance, leaving risk of le...
Joseph, SA 2010, 'Narrating the Silence of Trauma' in Broderick, M & Traverso, A (eds), Trauma, Media, Art: New Perspectives, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, United Kingdom, pp. 146-159.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Silence is a ubiquitous by-product of traumatic crime but when the subjects of such crime finally decide to speak, the interview process itself can be a traumatising experience. Furthermore, the handling of information by the journalist, particularly in long form narrative, is integral to that experience. Contextualising these narratives within the genre of literary journalism, this essay is an exploration of professional practice when dealing with traumatic memory in subjects. The essay draws on interviews that form part of a manuscript of creative non-fiction entitled Speaking Secrets. It calls for a greater academic discussion of empathy as a tool of journalism, rather than as a notion often regarded as anathema to the discipline.
Joseph, SA 2015, 'International Association of Literary Journalism Studies', “Literary Journalism: Media, Meaning, Memory,”, Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA.
What is Literary Journalism? A 10th Anniversary Discussion
Leading Australian literary journalist Margaret Simons (1960) is an award-winning freelance and the author of ten books and many essays and articles. As a social and political commentator in Australia, she is regarded as one of the best.
In 2003, her book The Meeting of the Waters: The Hindmarsh Island Affair, brokered both heated debate and revelation. Her investigation into the battle between local Aboriginal people living on Hindmarsh Island in South Australia, and developers wishing to build a bridge between the mainland and the island during the 1990s, is both beautifully written and starkly troubling.
This story, I believe, goes beyond the immediate telling, reflecting the troubled divide between indigenous and white Australia – a metaphor, so to speak, of a simmering but still current disconnect.
Joseph, SA & Latona, F 2014, 'Perspectives: Writing and supervising trauma narrative in tertiary studies', Minding The Gap: Writing Across Thresholds And Fault Lines, Australasian Association of Writing Programs Conference, Australasian Association of Writing Programmes, Massey University, Wellington.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Much has been written on differing paradigms of supervisor and Higher Degree Research
candidate relationship, particularly at the doctoral level. According to the literature,
varying models of supervision result in varying experiences but a consistent thread within
the comparatively newer discipline of creative practices in Australia is a desire to
understand this relationship and develop a uniform quality assurance.
But this paper argues that different types of candidate work within creative practices entails
different types of supervision. We arrive at this statement experientially through a
supervisory/student relationship spanning two degrees and four to five years, interrogating
notions of grief and death, framed by trauma.
In the final year of a doctorate, we instigated a mini lateral research project, looking at our
own practice, as both supervisor and candidate. Within the qualitative frame of narrative
inquiry, we individually devised a set of questions, and undertook to rigorously investigate
how the other regards the process we have been living for the past four years. In a bid to
both articulate and then reflect upon this relationship, we hope in some small way to
contribute to the growing canon within the creative practices on supervisor/candidate
relationships, particularly pertinent to the writing and supervision of trauma narrative.
Book length or long form is where much of Australia’s literary journalism is sited. As such, this paper will examine three long form contributions to the recent Australian gender discourse garnered by the prime ministership of Julia Gillard.
Julia Gillard was Australia’s 27th – and first female – prime minister. She came to office determined that gender had not – and would not – play a part in her tenure. She left office embroiled in a gender struggle of acts and words and images unimaginable before they occurred.
The media, the Opposition, members of her own party and ordinary Australians took part in a collective denigration of her reputation professionally, politically and personally. It went on unabated for three years, growing in intensity, and only towards the end of her leadership, was it truly comprehensively contested in the public sphere; and then, mainly by women writers, writing in the long form.
Between April and July, 2013, six texts appeared, all either written or edited by women, constellating the notions of gender during and in the wake of Prime Minister Gillard’s leadership. This paper will examine three of them, long form counterpoints to the popular and electronic media vilification of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. In so doing, it will examine the usage of the words ‘sexism’ and ‘misogyny’ as they were applied in Australia throughout this time.
Joseph, SA 2014, 'The exegesis, auto-ethnography and the ethical management of reflective practice in a tertiary setting', Great Writing: The International Creative Writing Conference, Imperial College, London.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Defining research methodologies within the creative practices has been a controversial and fraught issue throughout Australian tertiary programmes. Academics appropriate existing conceptual theoretical paradigms to greater and lesser degrees; while other academics argue that ‘practice’ itself is the heart of the research, putting practice-led research forward as the discipline’s core methodology. The latter is harder to argue in terms of a government funding model, causing ongoing frustration throughout the Australian academy.
Attempting to create a third approach, this paper argues that ‘enactive methodology’ within practice-led and creative higher degree research is also applicable and viable, potentially providing solid models akin to scientifically reproducing ‘results’.
Subsequently, this paper also looks briefly at the ethical imperative of supervising students interrogating their own trauma narrative in a tertiary institution, flagging a pedagogical model of ethical supervision.
Focussing on written long form trauma narrative through the HDR supervision process, this paper interrogates six enactive methodologies utilised by four students within their creative component, then interrogated in the exegetical component of candidate research constellating notions of: living with an alcoholic parent; death of a parent; child sexual abuse; and life as a child refugee.
Joseph, SA & Rickett, C 2014, '‘No News Today’: 24/7 fatigue and the welcome gaps in reporting storylines.', http://www.aawp.org.au/minding_the_gap_writing_across_thresholds_and_fa…, Australasian Association of Writing Programs Conference, Australasian Association of Writing Programmes, Massey University, Wellington.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
After an interval, usually no longer than a night (and often far less; if we’re
feeling particularly restless, we might only manage ten or fifteen minutes) we
interrupt whatever we are doing to check the news — Alain de Botton
In his recent contribution to public discourse, Alain De Botton’s text The News:
A User’s Manual critiques the privileged position that news now occupies in a
‘news addicted’ age. He references a time when the main ways an audience
accessed news was via ‘thirty pages of a paper’ or ‘half an hour of a bulletin’. 2
Obviously, media convergence and the 24-hour news cycle have crossed these
containment lines to produce boundless data—we deliberately employ the word
data here as opposed to the mediation of meaningful information that is often
sacrificed in the commodification and commercialisation of news as product.
The more traditional editorial practice used to determine whether a storyline
constitutes ‘news’ involves a mapping to at least one or more standard news
values. These now often run second to the pressing agenda of media entities
needing to present something, or anything, continuously to the public domain.
Taking as our case study the disappearance of Air Malaysia’s MH370 flight, 3
this paper explores the ethical intervention of Misha Ketchell, managing editor
for The Conversation, in deciding early in the news cycle not to post any more
stories on the missing plane until there was something more newsworthy to
Joseph, SA 2013, 'The `Morally Defensible' Journalist', International Association of Literary Journalism Studies, Literary Journalism: Text and Context, IALJS, Tampere, Finland, pp. 1-10.
Janet Malcolm penned the infamous `morally indefensible' phrase more than twenty years ago concerning journalism practice and despite the length of time, its application is a benchmarking filter through which ethical journalism must still emerge. This paper looks at the performative aspect of profile writing, seeking a model of variant `morally defensible' positions - almost a sliding scale - dependent on a subjective public interest test. In seeking to subvert the notion of a popular trauma culture that deems a subject a victim for mass media consumption for no other reason than `entertainment' - a `morally indefensible' space - this paper suggests that within the constitutive profile interview place of trauma narrative, when handled ethically and empathetically, both the subject and the journalism practitioner have an opportunity to metaphorically converge. They eventually leave any notion of performance and identity construct behind, as the power of the narrative creates a transparent and raw space. When managed ethically according to the telling by the subject, both the impulse by the trauma subject to tell and the empathetic responses and re-renderings of the practitioner, join to form a type of advocacy journalism, creating a synthesis of `moral defensibility' that does withstand a public interest test.
Joseph, SA 2012, 'Laying her Father's Ghost to Rest: investigating the scholarly nexus of craft and process', International Association for Literary Journalism Studies âLiterary Journalism: The Power and Promise of Storyâ, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Supervising students writing auto-ethnographically about their own trauma needs specific and individualised attention, more so than your average student. Already writing of traumatic moments in their lives, further trauma or tragedy, outside their writing sphere, compounds the already fragile space. Recalling and re-rendering traumatic memory to paper brings with it a haunting and trigger points which must be recognised and managed. Crossing boundaries with these students is appropriate in a bid to determine that there is a safety network around them of both emotional and psychological support. Special care needs to be taken and given to these students.
Joseph, SA 2012, 'When On the Record Doesn't Really Mean On the Record: an attempt to navigate ethical clearance for journalism and non-fiction research', Encounters: place | situation | context, Australasian Association of Writing Programs Conference, Australasian Association of Writing Programmes, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, pp. 1-14.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Journalism and writing academics from around the country are evaluating the best method to tackle problematic encounters with Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs). Discussion is focussing on the management of the ethics approval process within universities pertinent to their roles as researchers and as supervisors to their Higher Degree Research students. The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research was revamped in 2007 to be more inclusive of specific research practices within these fields, but it seems the flow on effect to many university HRECs has not evolved with it. Instead, a conservative stasis pertaining to the previous medical/scientific paradigm remains the default position. Pre-empting upcoming ethics applications flowing from the creation of a newly formed journalism graduate school, this paper will detail a submission that was made by the author to a university's HREC in a bid to expedite the process for non-traditional and creative researchers within the new school. It will also propose a more appropriate and applicable model of the informed consent letter that addresses tensions around the withdrawal of 'data'. The HREC response and subsequent outcome will also be examined. This paper seeks to add to the debate around this issue by detailing how the revised National Statement has indeed given creative practice-led academics the ability to improve the ethical clearance process - on close reading, the mechanisms are there within the Statement. http://aawp.org.au/publications-aawp
Joseph, SA 2011, 'The ethical journalist: oxymoron or aspiration?', The Ethical Imaginations: Writing Worlds Papers – The Refereed Proceedings Of The 16th Conference Of The Australasian Association Of Writing Programs, Australasian Association of Writing Programs, The Australasian Association of Writing Programs, Byron Bay, NSW, Australia, pp. 1-9.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Year after year, Australian newspaper journalism cannot seem to make it out of the bottom four of the thirty most distrusted professions, pipped only by car salesmen, advertisers and estate agents. Taking an historical perspective of âpublic interestâ and âthe publicâs right to knowâ, this paper will attempt to evaluate the distinction and gravity of both tenets, focussing on why they can have the effect of diluting ethical codes, if misused. The quasi-professional nature of journalism practice lends itself to ethical codes rather than legislative regulation. Accordingly these codes are largely accountable to no one â except perhaps the individual practitioner â and many codes of ethics and practice in the Western developed nations contain an âout-clauseâ in the name of public interest. This paper seeks to investigate these âout-clausesâ, and discuss the oft-quoted allegation that these clauses place journalists above the law. In light of this, I will conclude that in a tertiary setting, and ideally in a professional setting, what must be emphasised side by side with an ethical practice is an individual moral practice, all too often separated philosophically within the professional and industrial spheres.
Joseph, SA 2011, 'The Theoria, Poiesis and Praxis of Writing on the Death of the Other in a Tertiary Setting', Literary Journalism: Theoria, Poiesis and Praxis The Sixth International Conference for Literary Journalism Studies (IALJS-6), UniversitÃ© Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium.
This paper seeks to interrogate some of the ethical and procedural concerns that arise from supervising students who create literary artifact by drawing on personal trauma, specifically in the writing of the death of the âotherâ. One of the burgeoning impulses in literary journalism is the narrativisation of personal tragedy which locates itself within the sub-genre of memoir. Literary enterprises such as this raise ethical questions for student authors and the academics who supervise their projects. Much has been written in mainstream media about ethical transgression purporting to the veracity of memoir texts but little theory has been produced within academia in addressing the ethical and pedagogical tensions constellating the supervision of life writing on trauma, and how to navigate these. This paper will contribute to the ongoing discussions around the theory and praxis of the autobiographical âIâ and the minimisation and management of potential harm that can result from retelling trauma narratives. Drawing on one case study demonstrating a relatively smooth trajectory throughout an Honours year in supervising a creative Honours project of memoir around death, this paper posits the supervision pedagogy and outcome as an exemplar or rather, a study in the refinement of professional practice.
Joseph, SA 2010, 'Australian Creative Non-Fiction: Perspectives and Opinions', Literary Journalism: Perspectives and Prospects, Roehampton University, London.
Figures confirm that Australians avidly read their creative non-fiction. But most would be unable to name the genre it is not as widely defined or discussed in Australia as it is in the USA and UK, where it is actively debated and anthologised. This paper goes to the heart of the genre in Australia, investigating through narrative interview why there is not more of an Australian voice in this international debate. It examines the perspectives and views of twelve of the country's most widely read, awarded and respected creative non-fiction authors, drawing them into the discussion. There appears a wide spread disinterest from those who write creative non-fiction in this country to label it as such. But a disinterest in categorisation does not discredit the validity of the writing indeed, this disinterest lends itself to an idiosyncratic character, or one of many different national manifestations around the world. The writings of creative non-fiction authors in Australia are an integral part of a social history, and as such must be studied and collated as our own cultural pathway. The international debate is an important one to take part in, as a collective impetus grows to legitimise the genre as a collection of differing national cultural assets.
Joseph, SA & Rickett, C 2010, 'The writing cure?: ethical considerations in managing creative practice lifewriting projects', Strange Bedfellows or Perfect Partners - Refereed Conference Papers of the 15th Annual AAWP Conference, Australasian Association of Writing Programs, The Australian Association of Writing Programs, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 1-11.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
The autobiographical turn in literary studies has increasingly placed value on selfrepresentation as a strategic means of reclaiming voice, identity and agency. By and large, the narrating 'I' is circulated and read as a storied performance/product which empowers the writer. Typically such texts are often ones that rehearse, record and expiate individual trauma, and also produce a set of readings that textually frame the work as 'therapeutic'. There is a growing selection of texts which narrativise personal trauma now being set for literary examination in tertiary syllabi. Concurrent to the formal reading of trauma texts in the context of literary studies is the narrative impulse to repackage traumatic experience as autobiographical process/literary output within creative practice higher degrees. This paper seeks to interrogate some of the ethical concerns that arise from students drawing on personal trauma in creative writing contexts for the production of literature that is to be formally supervised and examined. How is the potential risk of re-traumatisation of the student, and vicarious traumatisation of the supervisor/lecturer, managed? If higher degrees are providing an emergent space for catharsis, 'unofficially' offering writing as a therapeutic mode in creative practice, what are the implications of the supervisor/lecturer moving from a role of artistic and scholarly critic, to one of bearing witness? And in this newly formed therapeutic alliance, does an academic need more skills than they have developed in simply delivering a writing or literary curriculum? And what professional frames of support, if any, are in place to sustain both the student and the academic throughout the process? Without well-established professional support and guidelines, is commodifying trauma in order to gain a degree, and or a literary output, ethical professional practice?
Joseph, SA 2008, 'Narrating the Silence of Trauma', Interrogating Trauma: Arts & Media Responses to Collective Suffering, Interrogating Trauma Arts & Media Responses to Collective, Curtin University, Perth, Australia, pp. 1-14.
Conception by racist pack rape kept secret for more than 30 years; rape as war crime kept secret for more than 50 years; a doctor sexually abusing a five year old; child abuse within a family. Silence is a ubiquitous by-product of traumatic crime. And when the subjects of such crime finally decide to speak, the interview process itself can be a traumatising experience. And then, the handling of information by the journalist, particularly in long form narrative, is integral to that experience.
Joseph, SA 2008, 'What if Tom Wolfe was Australian?', Creativity and Uncertainty Conference: the refereed proceedings of the 13th conference of the Australian Association of Writing Programs, Annual Conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs, The Australian Association of Writing Programs, University of Technology, Sydney, pp. 1-12.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Ever since Tom Wolfe wrote a thirteen page essay entitled The birth of the new journalism, eyewitness report by Tom Wolfe in the Seventies, debate has raged over what this New Journalism or literary journalism or creative non-fiction is. Yet geographically, the debate has been confined to the United States and the UK. Australia has remained notably silent on the issue.
Joseph, S 2019, 'Inside the story: Leigh Sales, ordinary days and crafting empathy ‘between the lines’', The Conversation, The Conversation Media Group, Sydney.
Joseph, SA 2019, 'Birth and death, and in between: suspension… …the state in which theparticles of a substance are mixed with a fluid but are undissolved; thestate of being suspended', Antipodes, American Association of Australian Literary Studies, Wayne University, Detroit.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Birth and death, and in between: suspension…is a braided personal essay constellating dementia, death, love, family and loss. Situating itself within the creative nonfiction genre, the intention of this personal essay is to expand the narrative of loss through dementia, juxtaposed against the sudden loss of a son/brother. The threads are multiple: the mother’s illness; the son/brother’s death; the daughter/sister’s coping attempts; the setting of an Australian summer; a Sydney childhood; and a menacing sister/brother relationship. Conceptually, there is a painting and there is water. Lots of water, creating a medium of womb-like suspension.
Joseph, SA 2018, 'Alcoves', On First Looking, Puncher and Wattmann, Sydney.
Joseph, SA 2018, 'Ella's Garden', On First Looking, Puncher and Wattmann, Sydney.
Joseph, SA 2018, 'Ondaatje joy', On First Looking, Puncher and Wattmann, Sydney.
Joseph, SA 2016, 'Autumn sunset in Les Pyrenees', All these Presences, Puncher and Wattmann, Sydney, pp. 93-94.
Joseph, SA 2016, 'Fully submerged in Les Pyrenees, France', The Typewriter, The Typewriter, Hong Kong.
Joseph, SA 2016, 'Paris Life in Rosy Hues', The Typewriter, The Typewriter, Hong Kong.
Joseph, SA 2016, 'Suspended in Paris', All These Presences, Puncher and Wattmann, Sydney, pp. 95-96.
Joseph, SA 2014, 'Surgery', A Way of Happening, Puncher and Wattmann, Sydney, pp. 67-69.
Joseph, SA 2013, 'Double Dutch on Wheels', Fairfax, Sydney Morning Herald; The Age.
Literary travel essay about the West Frisian Islands off the North Coast of The Netherlands
There are many ubiquitous notions of the modern Western 'home' including psychological, spatial and emotional. As a universal social construct, its principle differentials are cultural and inter relational. Despite a collective metaphorical `family' ownership of the space, 'home' as a notion is a fleeting experience, invested with immense and overarching meanings for individual members. `Home' as an imagined concept entails 'apparent permanency, presumed security and privacy' but in reality the individual experiences of it are multiple and changing continuously. And comparatively, multiply varied according to individual memory - each memory a small piece of a larger, jointly-owned private story, often scattered with secrets. Blending the physical with the emotional, this paper is an exploration of how ephemeral the family `home' is. Within the parameters of a childhood, this paper investigates memory and `home', specifically a non fiction artefact of life writing circulating around three real Sydney spaces, embedded in one family member's experience of a dysfunctional relationship. Revisiting each as creative memoir, the paper represents an individual rendering and re-representation of secret moments within these shared communal spaces. The narrative travels from third to first to second person as a method of representing a series of dissociative and fragmentary recollections, focussing specifically on three `moments'. The text is accompanied by contemporary photographic images threaded throughout, and an original drawing, depicting each `home' in the abstract, correlating with the disconnected and individual nature of the memoir.
Joseph, SA 2012, 'More than a mouthful', Fairfax, Sun Herald, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age.
The Dutch have been excessively involving themselves with water for centuries. They sailed across it in exploration and empire building, for trade and to wage wars. They sucked the land dry of it, creating polders where they settle and farm and build cities. They built dykes and sluice-like locks, to manage and control waterways, to keep the water out or to keep it in.From time to time they even glide through it more speedily than our world-renowned swimming champions, to beat us at one of our best games. And now this place - the Afsluitdijk. Thirty-two kilometres of a four-lane A7 Snelweg (freeway) nestling beside a huge, grass-covered dyke - a colossal mound of till, sand and clay.
Joseph, SA 2012, 'Travelling Through the Tube Tunnels', The Independent, The Independent, United Kingdom.
In the last week of July, the 2012 Olympics begin in London. It was in that month seven years ago that four deadly bombs ripped through the heart of Londonâs transport system, an intensely utilised transport system which will be stretched to the max during the London Olympic fortnight.
Joseph, SA 2012, 'Varuna Dreaming', Here Not There, Puncher & Wattman, Sydney, pp. 62-63.
Joseph, SA 2011, 'The Old Man and the Seine', The Sun Herald, Fairfax, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, pp. 18-19.
Joseph, SA 2010, 'Across Europe in 15 Hours', Sydney Morning Herald; The Melbourne Age, Fairfax, Australia, pp. 10-11.
A memoir and travel piece about a journey interrupted by volcanic activity in Iceland. An instant friend and new travel plans. http://www.smh.com.au/travel/across-europe-in-15-hours-20100604-xjhh.ht…