Some More Very Special People

Blog Jo MayConjoint Associate Professor Josephine May is one of the sweetest, and most positive ladies I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.  At the end of 2015, Associate Professor Josephine (Jo) May retired from her full-time position, Deputy Director, Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies (History), at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Jo May is now Conjoint Associate Professor in the English Language and Foundation Studies Centre, University of Newcastle, Australia.

In her staff profile on the University of Newcastle, Australia, website, Jo May says: “I am a historian of education specializing in the history of Australian education and enabling education. I am interested in visual representations of educational subjects, as well as gender, class, age, race and ethnicity and how they have in the past, and do now, affect the lived experience of education. My comprehensive work on filmic representations of Australian schooling, entitled Reel Schools: Schooling and the Nation in Australian Cinema, published by Peter Lang in 2013, has received excellent reviews. My numerous research articles have appeared in leading journals including History of Education Review, Australian Journal of Adult Learning, Journal of Australian Studies and Paedagogica Historica…. My new book with Tanya Fitzgerald is entitled Portraying lives: Headmistresses and women professors 1880s-1940s. [For more information about this book, and for orders, go to ] With colleagues Sarah O’Shea and Janine Delahunty (University of Wollongong) and Cathy Stone (University of Newcastle), I collaborated on a successful OLT project in 2013-2014 entitled ‘Breaking the Barriers’ that resulted in a very well attended national workshop, a report and a website (see for prospective and current first in family university students and staff who work with them. The research team is currently working on a book about the experiences of first-in-family university students for Palgrave Macmillan (2017).”

Jo May, as she is affectionately known, is or has been on various editorial boards, such as, for instance, the editorial board of Historical Encounters: A Journal of Historical Consciousness, Historical Cultures, and History Education, Australia; the Online Dictionary of Educational History in Australia and New Zealand, Australia; History of Education Review, Australia. As well, Jo M (as I call her), is a former President and member of the Executive, Australian & New Zealand History of Education Society, Australia. Jo has also been Conference Chair of the Ourimbah Campus Festival of Literature Committee, Australia, and Conference Chair of the inaugural Australian Enabling Educators Conference Committee.

Over the years, Jo May has received some prestigious prizes and awards, including an Excellence Award, a Teachers Recognition Award, an award for Lecturer of the Year, and a New South Wales Quality Teaching Award, Australian College of Educators, as well as an Vice-Chancellor’s Citation  for Outstanding Contributions to Student Leaning, University of Newcastle, Australia. Jo M has twice been an invited member of the judging panels for  the NSW Premiers History Prize. Jo M has also presented at, and accepted invitations as key-note speaker to a number of national and international conferences and conference dinners, and at various book launches and occasional speeches.  Jo M is extremely prolific in her output and has numerous publications to her name—literary reviews journal and media articles, book chapters, books–and has supervised and co-supervised many  RHD candidates theses on both the MPhil and PhD level, and including, together with Dr Keri Glastonbury, the creative component  to my own PhD dissertation. As a Conjoint to the University now, Jo M continues as supervisor to those of her students who had not completed when she retired.

For my MPhil, my principal supervisor was Professor Hugh Craig,  and my co-supervisor was Dr Keri Glastonbury. Hugh supervised  my exegetical work and oversaw the entire project, and Keri co-supervised my creative component to my exegesis. I had the same team for PhD, with the addition of Professor Jo May as co-supervisor to my creative component to my dissertation, along with Keri. I can say that I was extremely fortunate in my PhD supervisors. I had what the University call a dream team–I had the very best: my principal supervisor was Professor Hugh Craig, an exemplary academic whom I admire greatly, and who is now my very much appreciated and dear mentor; my co-supervisors were Dr Keri Glastonbury and Associate Professor Jo May, both of whom I love dearly, and all of whom I find very easy to work with. As a supervisor, Jo M was always very positive, and very encouraging of me and my work, and an inspiration to me in many ways. Jo M models the love and joy of learning and achieving.

Jo M has a sparkle in her eye. She enjoys teaching, enjoys taking part in University life and everything else that is going, enjoys her students and values their input, and makes learning and achieving look easy–all this, even though learning goes on and on all our lives, and achievement is by no means a simple matter. Jo M is much loved by her students and the staff at the University. In one her emails to me, Marguerite wrote, “Ah, Jo May, always a positive and a real mentor to me.”

Speaking from my own experience, I can say the same. I first met Jo M when, in my role as student convenor to the NewMac conferences,  I rang to ask if she would consider accepting the invitation to act as one of the academic judges at the NewMac RHD Conferences, which were run by the Humanities Postgraduate students for the Humanities Postgraduate students, under the guidance of an academic in the field (our academic guide, leading light, and Chair-person was Professor Hugh Craig while I was the NewMac’s student “secretary”). As did Marguerite, Jo M immediately, and without question, accepted the invitation to judge at our NewMac conferences. She did an excellent job, and helped to make the conferences very happy and worthwhile events.

Jo and JoWhen I gained my MPhil, my supervisors, Dr Keri Glastonbury, and Professor Hugh Craig, supported me by attending my MPhil graduation. I am, and always will be, extremely grateful to them for this. It means a lot to me. In the last year of my studies for my PhD, Jo M became a co-supervisor for the creative segment of my dissertation. Then, once I gained my PhD, Jo M, in her capacity as one of my PhD supervisors, was there for me as my academic support when I made my Graduation. Her presence helped to make my special day a very happy occasion. She walked along side me in the Academic Procession, stayed with me throughout the whole event, and honoured me by joining with my family to celebrate my achievement of having gained my degree. What Jo M did is a thing of great value: it means the world  to me that one of my supervisors gave of herself to openly show her support for me at my PhD Graduation. I will always thank Helen Moffatt too, for she also supported me by coming to my Graduation and joining with my family to celebrate my having gained my PhD.

I can also truly say that if it hadn’t been for Jo M’s and Marguerite’s and Hugh Craig’s encouragement and help, and for the fact that Jo M was so unfailingly positive, I would never had gone to Canada to present my paper on my work to the world, and missed out on a very important moment in my life. It was Jo M who showed me the way and made it look easy, or should I say, made travelling overseas and appearing in a major international conference look simple, and as something to be taken in one’s stride. A Conjoint now, Jo M continues as my friend, and is a reader for my literary short stories and BOTS (Based on True Stories) pieces. As well, Jo M has willingly agreed to be a reviewer for my proposed books, one of which is an edited collection with the working title New and Unusual  Ways of Writing Lives: by Australian academics and professional writers (now in the proposal stage for the publishers), and another, Representations of the Mother-in-Law:  in (popular/social culture) literature, film and television, and for which the call for papers has now gone out. I am truly thankful to Jo M, and can honestly say that, for me, she is indeed one of my very special people.


Blog Caroline WebbAssociate Professor Caroline Webb, Associate Professor, School of Humanities and Social Science (English and Writing), Head of English & Writing at the University of Newcastle, Australia.  

Associate Professor Caroline Webb’s field of research is in British and Irish literature.  She specialises in English literature since 1900, and has a keen interest in fantasy literature.  Her special interest is in how the politics of form emerges through subtle textual details, and has examined this area in the writings of Modernist authors (Virginia Woolf, for example), as well as in contemporary fiction.   Her analyses of writings by Angela Carter and Jeanette Winterson take a feminist affective narratological approach.  At the current time, Caroline is studying the British fantasy tradition and its relationship to British postmodern fiction, especially in the form of rewritten fairy tales, and has recently commenced a project examining British fantasy literature of the 1920s. Her study of fantasy literature includes popular novels for children such as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter sequence and the children’s fiction of Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett; her scholarly monograph on the children’s fantasies by these authors, titled Fantasy and the Real World in British Children’s Literature: The Power of Story, was published by Routledge in October 2014. 

Caroline is a member of the Literary Studies research group; the International Virginia Woolf Society (IVWS), Australia; the Australian Women’s and gender Studies Australia; the International James Joyce Foundation ((IJJF); Journal of Interdisciplinary Gender Studies, Australia;  the Modern Language Association (MLA), Australia; the Australasian Association for Literature (AAL), Australia; and has the Journal of Interdisciplinary Gender Studies, Australia. Associate Professor Caroline Webb held a University of Newcastle Career Enhancement Fellowship for Academic Women in 2012, and served as Secretary of the Australasian Children’s Literature Association for Research for two, two-year terms.

Associate Professor Webb is a Fulbright Scholar: “Aided by a Fulbright Postgraduate Travel Grant and the Andrew D. White Fellowship, Caroline completed her PhD in English Literature and Language at Cornell University, and subsequently taught for eight years at Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts.”  Over the years, Caroline has variously been Assistant  Professor at Wesley College, Department of English, USA;  tutor at the University of Sydney, Department of English; lecturer, then senior lecturer, University of Newcastle, School of Humanities and Social Science, Australia. Caroline  is now Associate Professor, School of Humanities and Social Science (English and Writing), University of Newcastle, Australia, and Head of English and Writing at the University of Newcastle, Australia, where she studies and teaches English literature since 1900, especially fantasy literature. She is especially interested in how the literature both of a period and of a genre can be studied to explore intellectual history, both in its content and in its approaches to representation, and has explored this in courses on Victorian to Modernist literature and on twentieth-century British and Irish literature. Her interests as reflected in her teaching include narrative and representation, tradition and innovation in modern British literature, representations of female identity in English and Australian women’s writing especially since 1900, and the relationship between cultural issues and narrative in science fiction and fantasy literature (including children’s fantasy). Caroline has developed a range of successful courses in her field at the University, including honours seminars on Fictions of Female Identity, Virginia Woolf, and Orlando and Feminism. She has also developed and taught a range of courses at introductory and advanced undergraduate level, including current courses in Fiction, Drama, Film; Contemporary Literature; Women’s Writing, and Issues in Speculative Fiction.  She recently co-developed the new core first-year course in the English & Writing major, Introduction to Literary Studies, and has co-ordinated and taught both face-to-face and online offerings, and a course in Children’s Fantasy Literature, which she co-developed, in 2015. In 2014 she was awarded an Australian Office of Learning and Teaching Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.

Throughout her career at the University of Newcastle, Australia, Caroline has worn many Hats, and been active in University governance, and has developed understanding of budgetary issues at School, Faculty, and University level: “In  2002-05 and 2008-09 she served on the Faculty Executive and developed understanding of budgetary issues at School, Faculty, and University level.  She is currently Head of the discipline of English & Writing.” (see Caroline Webb’s staff profile, on the University of Newcastle, Australia, webpage, For a comprehensive statement on the roles in which Associative Professor Caroline Webb has served, go to the University of Newcastle, Australia, webpage , click on “staff profile” in the left hand column, bottom of  page, type in “Caroline Webb”, then click on “details” directly under her name, and look under the heading “Administrative Expertise” in her staff profile.

Associate Professor Webb has written books, creative works, several book chapters, many journal articles and reviews, attended numerous conferences, published her conference papers, and currently has other works in progress and in press. Caroline also has extensive experience in supervision. She has supervised a large number of research higher degree theses to completion, and is currently supervising at least another ten research higher degree students.  In 2015 she was awarded the Faculty of Education and Arts Dean’s Award for Research Supervision Excellence (Individual) at the University of Newcastle.  

Caroline was on the Confirmation committee for my PhD studies. Later, when the 20 Pic 31NewMac postgraduate conferences were resurrected, and during the planning stages of the second of these conferences, as “secretary” to the NewMac committee I asked Caroline if she would be one of the key-note speakers at the Postgraduate Forum. This Forum was traditionally held at the conferences after the lunch-break. Caroline willingly forewent her Saturday, a day which all academics value as their own, and immediately accepted the invitation. Caroline spoke to the conference audience on how to convene and present a successful conference, on how to take things in one’s stride and make the whole procedure a happy, interesting, enjoyable, and worthy event, and one which would enhance and assist the learning experience. Caroline’s talk was delightful, truly enjoyable, and began on a humorous note that broke the audience up: she began her talk with something like, “Here I am, standing here before you all, with the intention of teaching you how to run a successful conference when here you all are, already doing it, and teaching me how to run a successful conference…”

Caroline is an inspiration; she promotes education, values the students and learning, and models academic achievement through application.  Caroline is a wonderful, very human, very approachable, very clever, and knowledgeable  teacher. Speaking from personal experience, when I was a PhD student, and now that I am a Conjoint Fellow to the School of Humanities at the University of Newcastle, Caroline has always shown a great interest in my work, and encouraged and supported me in my efforts to achieve academically. Caroline’s continuing interest in my work is evidenced by her active support of my current projects. Despite her own over-crowded schedule, Caroline has honoured me by agreeing to be one of the reviewers and readers for two of my proposed books, both of which are to be edited and collated editions, and one of which is in the proposal stage for publishers, and the other of which is in the call-for-papers stage. With regards to the latter of these projects, Caroline has posted the call-for-papers for the proposed book on the School website.


This seems like an appropriate point to talk a little about my current projects–my two proposed books–New and Unusual  Ways of Writing Lives: by Australian academics and professional writers, and Representations of the Mother-in-Law:  in popular/social culture as literature, film and television.

Roughly speaking, the first of these proposed books wears a working title of Some new and Unusual Ways of Writing Lives. This is a collated edition of essays by Australian academics and professional practitioners of various forms of life writing. All the contributors are well-known and widely published. This work is currently in the proposal stage, and has attracted the interest of  three  different publishers.

The other of my proposed books takes a popular culture/social culture perspective, and has the working title of Representations of the Mother-in-Law: in (popular culture)British/ American/ Australian/ and European literature, film, and television. This work, which is currently in the call-for-papers stage, is also to be an edited collection of essays by potential contributors, but takes an international focus and draws on potential contributors from all over the world.

The latter mentioned project has gained the strong interest of a very well-known and highly prestigious publishing firm in America.  The call-for-papers for the proposed book has been posted on a number of listservs: I posted it on the PCA/ACA listserv, and also on U Penn; Professor Julie Taddeo of Maryland University, USA, kindly posted it for me on her H-net for Humanities; Associate Professor Caroline Webb kindly had it posted on the School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle, Australia, website; Professor Catharine Coleborne, who was recently appointed as the Manager and Head of the School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle (UoN), Australia,  waved her magic wand and had it posted by Jarrod Skene of Uon’s NewsRoom, under the section headed  ‘News’ on the University’s webpage, as well as in the side attachments to my University of Newcastle, Australia, staff profile.

My mentor, Professor Hugh Craig is very kindly writing the foreword  to my proposed book, Some New and Unusual Ways of Writing Lives; one of my former co-supervisors for the creative segment of my PhD dissertation, Conjoint Associate Professor Jo May, has kindly agreed to write the Introduction to the other proposed book, Representations of the Mother-in-Law. Reviews and readers for both works, are: Vice-Chancellor Caroline McMillen, Professor Hugh Craig, Associate Professor Caroline Webb, Professor Catharine Coleborne,  Conjoint Associate Professor Jo May, Associate Professor Alistair Rolls, Dr Jesper Gulddal–all these wonderful people are from my home University, the University of Newcastle, Australia–and Professor Julie Taddeo of Maryland University, USA, and I am currently seeking at least another four readers/reviewers for the proposed book, Representations of the Mother-in-Law. As well, my mentor, Professor Hugh Craig, University of Newcastle, Australia, is kindly acting as an advisor to me and as a sort of secondary editor for both books–New and Unusual Ways of Writing Lives, and Representations of the Mother-in-Law (in popular culture). Professor Julie Taddeo of Maryland University, USA, is also doing similar in regards to the second book, Representations of the Mother-in-Law (in popular culture).

The contributors to the proposed book, New and Unusual Ways of Writing Lives, are–in no particular order–as follows:

Professor David Walker FASSA, FAHA, BHP Billiton Chair of Australian Studies Peking University, Beijing Alfred Deakin Professor, Deakin University, Melbourne;

Dr Gabrielle Carey, Senior Lecturer Creative Writing, University of Technology, Sydney;

Dr Keri Glastonbury, Senior Lecturer Creative Writing, University of Newcastle, Australia;

Dr Jo Parnell, Conjoint Fellow, Faculty of Education and the Arts, Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle, Australia;

Dr Mark Treddinick, Professional Writer, and Tutor and Teacher of Creative Writing;

Dr John Hughes, Senior Master in English and Senior Librarian, Sydney Boys’ Grammar, Professional Writer;

Antigone Kefala, BA., MA. French Literature (Victoria University,  Auckland, NZ), Professional Writer and Poet;

Associate Professor Kate Douglas, Associate Professor of English and Writing, Flinders University, South Australia;

Dmetri Kakmi, Professional Writer, Freelance Editor, Tutor Writers Victoria, and former Senior Editor Penguin Classics, Melbourne;

Dr Willa McDonald,  Senior Lecturer in Media, Music, Communications and Cultural Studies, Macquarie University, Sydney;

Martin Edmond, BA English and Anthropology, MA—1st class Honours, English Language and Literature (Victoria University, Auckland, NZ), Professional Writer;

Mark Mordue, MA by Research (UTS) Professional Writer, Editor, International Journalist;

Vanessa Berry, Professional Writer and Artist, PhD candidate (submitted), Macquarie University, Sydney.


Below: I have also taken the opportunity that presents itself to me here in my blog, to again post the call-for-papers for the proposed book Representations of the Mother-in-Law: in British/ American/ Australian/ and European literature, film, and television.


This call is for abstracts for an edited collection, with the working title Representations of the Mother-in-Law: in British/ American/ Australian/ and European literature, film, and television.


Mothers-in-law are familiar figures in jokes, stories, and culture. They are everywhere. Yet it is interesting to note that, to date, and even though the mother-in-law figure is an ever-present figure in life and an important part of our social and cultural history, it would seem that there are no published academic books on representations of the mother-in-law from the angle suggested in this cfp.

It would indeed be most interesting to discover how the mother-in-law is represented in the popular and social culture as explored in British/ American/ Australian/ and European literature, film, and television. (Examples that come immediately mind are small screen productions such as Downton Abbey and the BBC production Upstairs Downstairs, and the Australian-American film Monster-in-Law, as well as  two Australian novels, Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum, by Georgia Madden, and The Unknown Woman by Jaqueline Nunn).

Potential questions to be addressed include but are not limited to:-

  • What is the range of ways in which the mother-in-law is represented in British/ American/ Australian/ and European popular culture?
  • Is it possible to identify contemporary writers of popular culture in British/ American/ Australian/ and European literature, film, and television, who predominantly engage in a practice of centring their work on representations of the mother-in-law? Do any of these writers, (if any), illuminate individual representations of the mother-in-law in a new and innovative way?
  • How might the mother-in-law be represented across the British/ American/ Australian/ and European cultures, and what are the common factors if any? How do class, ethnicity, and race shape these representations?
  • Are there cultural or socially historical antecedents for consideration of representations of the mother-in-law in popular culture, as explored in British/ American/ Australian/ and European literature, film, and television?
  • Is there a difference between the ways in which the mother-in-law is represented in cinematic film to that in small screen, and between those mediums to representations in literature? Or in these representations, is there a reasonably broad consensus between these genres?
  • What are the distinctions between how the mother-in-law has been typically represented in jokes and anecdotes, to that in popular and social culture as explored in British/ American/ Australian/ and European literature, film, and television?
  • How often, if at all, are these representations told from the point-of-view of the mother-in-law herself?
  • As well, are there examples of representations of the wonderfully successful mother-in-law?

This collection of scholarly essays will make an interesting intervention in the field by fulfilling a number of aims. It will: be the first of its kind to explore whether or not there are characteristic features and definitions within the representations of the mother-in-law in popular culture; document and record how our western societies perceive and represent the socially important figure of the mother-in-law in film and literary works; establish a new and dynamic area of theoretical research in social history, and point the way to possible future work in an ever-expanding field through examining various representations of the mother-in-law in popular culture; permit scholarly consideration of the extent to which Anglophone writers establish popular representations of a figure who is an intrinsic part of the western culture as a whole.

Submission Instructions.

Abstracts should be no more than 500 words in total, 1.5 spaced, written in Times New Roman point 12, justified, and follow the style and format  given M.L.A. Handbook (6th -7th edition).  At the top of your abstract, after the word “Keywords,” please add five keywords for you abstract. Full-length chapters (6000 words each) will be solicited from these abstracts.

Please submit a short biographical note with your covering letter.

Papers should be forwarded to:

Jo Parnell or, alternatively, to

Deadline for abstracts: July 30, 2016.


Dr Jo Parnell, Conjoint Fellow, Faculty of Education and the Arts, School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle, Australia.


Image | This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s