From November 12 to November 19, 2018
She is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Languages and Linguistics at the University of Melbourne. Her main fields of research are multimodality in narrative and verbal arts, gesture and sign languages, descriptive linguistics, and lexicography. For over 30 years she has collaborated with Indigenous people in Central Australia on projects documenting Australian Indigenous spoken and signed languages, cultural history, and visual arts practices. She also has a keen interest in field research methodologies and in ethical and practical issues that arise in the archiving and return of the linguistic and anthropological research materials that result from these engagements. Her doctoral research was on sand stories, a form of narrative art practiced, particularly by women, in the desert regions of Australia. Her current Australian Research Council funded project is investigating diversity in Indigenous sign languages across Central and Northern Australia.
Verbal art forms are often viewed as the pinnacle of a culture’s linguistic and musical achievements (Evans, 2009). Understanding why particular verbal art practices emerge, and unravelling their multimodal complexities, remain challenges for understanding human language. I draw on an extensive corpus of filmed narratives, including sand stories, from the Central Australian deserts. My project brings linguistic and anthropological insights to understanding how this multimodal orchestration is achieved in these exemplars of verbal art. I will consider ecological factors underpinning verbal arts, the expression of spatial and temporal aspects of the narratives, and the impact of cultural and technological change.