When I began this blog over a year ago I aimed to chart the process of applying for an Australian Research Council research grant. In the end, or rather, shortly thereafter, I got sick and didn't go ahead with that application. But over the summer, I was able to work on revising an unsuccessful collaborative grant. My research team was fantastic; and one burning hot day last January as I came to the end of my daily radiotherapy treatment, they were the first to see I was exhausted and was finished for that day. The lead-up in this immense national system is deeply attenuated. We submitted in early Feb, wrote a "rejoinder" to our four assessors' reports in July, and have just heard now that we were successful, with four years' funding to commence next January. It is a huge relief to be successful, partly because it is such a public process: lots of people read drafts and the final version, and can be quite scathing in their comments and suggestions. It's good for my program, school, faculty and university; and also for those of my collaborators, as funding will flow back into those units as a result. It's good for the PhD student we'll be able to offer a scholarship to; it's good for the postgrad or early career researchers we'll employ as research assistants and tutors. It's great for the field of medievalism. And it's great for our summer, as it means we won't have to revise and re-submit it all over again.
I've been a bit coy about naming our team or our project, but I have everyone's permission to do so now. We are me, Andrew Lynch (University of Western Australia), Louise D'Arcens (University of Wollongong) and John Ganim (University of California, Riverside). We have been awarded $340,000 over four years to study "Medievalism in Australian Cultural Memory". Here is our magic 100-word project summary:
This project is the first comprehensive study of the influence of medievalism — the imaginative reconstruction of the middle ages - on Australian literature and culture. Detailed examinations of archives, texts, artefacts and public records from 1800 to the present will trace Australia's transformation of its European medieval legacy, with reference to literary, public, academic and popular modes of writing and cultural production. The research will offer a new perspective on Australian cultural history, and the first comparative study of Australia's relationship with international medievalism. An illustrated monograph, a refereed essay collection and a digital repository will bring the resuts to the public.
And... the summary of national/community benefit. This is the bit that is "for public release"; i.e. the bit that has to pass the scrutiny of those who love to criticise the expense of public money on university research:
This project will provide the first long-range analysis of Australian cultural responses to the medieval period, and the first comparative study of Australia's relationship with international medievalism. It will show how Australians have used reference to the medieval past, both favourable and hostile, to articulate our complex relation to European tradition and our aspirations to a distinctive national culture. The published research will offer an original perspective on the development of Australian cultural identity and will enhance public understanding of our British and European heritage, in the context of contemporary debates about republicanism, the monarchy, and ethnic and cultural diversity.