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Research Seminar - School of Humanities and Communication

The Wog Dog and Leicester’s Men had more in common than you think.

Date: 17 March 2021
Time: 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Venue: Online
Contact: For more information, please contact Barbara Ryan.
Booking: Please register via HR UConnect.
Save to calendar: Download

Registrants will be provided a Zoom link on the day, via email.

This research seminar presented by the School of Humanities and Communication explores migration and its effects in two very different contexts: the invention of Wog Humour in Australia – and with it Australia’s embrace of Horrie the Wog Dog, and how the Shakespearean players known as Leicester’s Men passed so much more easily across borders.
Join us for a deep dive into migration, culture and humour for these research-based presentations.

The Invention of Wog Humour 

In post-war Australia, the word ‘wog’ was used to describe the southern Europeans who dominated the mass migration schemes, particularly Italians and Greeks. Dr Jess Carniel and Dr Jayne Persian have investigated the evolution of ‘wog’ from slur to celebration peaked in the 1990s, led by second-generation migrant comedians. Jess sets out the history of this evolution and the cultural context in which ‘wog’ humour was invented in a uniquely ‘Australian’ way. Was this phenomenon an empowering form of self-representation, or ‘wogsploitation’? 

Dr Jayne Persian is a Senior Lecturer in history at the University of Southern Queensland. A historian of twentieth century Australian and international history, Jayne is the author of Beautiful Balts: From Displaced Persons to New Australians (Sydney: NewSouth Publishing, 2017) and is Co-Chief Investigator on an ARC Discovery Project: ‘Displacement and Resettlement: Russian InASA Biennial Conference, 62 and Russian-speaking Jewish displaced persons arriving in Australia via the China route in the wake of the Second World War’. 

Dr Jess Carniel is a Senior Lecturer in humanities at the University of Southern Queensland. Located within the field of cultural studies, her research interests encompass multiculturalism, gender, and cultural representations in Australian and global society. She has published widely on gender and ethnic identities in popular culture in multicultural Australia, including literature, film, television, and sport.


“Com’st thou to beard me in Denmark?”—Shakespearean Travelling Players as Foreigners

Professor Laurie Johnson explores the cause of the curious sense of dislocation in Hamlet’s initial greetings to the players arriving in Elsinore, since he indicates he has seen them elsewhere before but now they have come not just to Elsinore but to Denmark. Having been overtaken by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern on the road to Elsinore, the players, like Hamlet’s two University friends, must have come from Wittenberg via several German states into Schleswig, south of Denmark. Instead of asking, as Hamlet does, “How chances it they travel?” we might ask how they freely crossed so many borders. There is a clear analogue here to the members of Shakespeare’s own company who had previously, under the licence of the Earl of Leicester, travelled to Germany in 1586 and were gifted to King Frederick and then Christian, the Elector of Saxony, for over six months. These same players were also members of the company that had been touring England extensively for nearly thirty years. I think it is a mistake to label the two branches of Leicester’s playing group “domestic” and “foreign,” as some have done, as this distinction can conceal the sense that even within England, provincial touring companies were always treated in each locality as “foreigners or strangers.” This paper will draw on my current study of Leicester’s Men to examine the many lenses of foreignness through which professional players were viewed by local authorities from international diplomatic service to provincial touring within England. Paradoxically, I argue, they would have identified more as English while abroad but then treated as foreigners at home.

Professor Laurie Johnson is Professor of English and Cultural Studies at the University of Southern Queensland, and President of the Australian and New Zealand Shakespeare Association (ANZSA). His publications include Shakespeare’s Lost Playhouse: Eleven Days at Newington Butts (2018), The Tain of Hamlet (2014), and The Wolf Man’s Burden (2001) as well as two edited collections, Embodied Cognition and Shakespeare’s Theatre: The Early Modern Body-Mind (with John Sutton and Evelyn Tribble, 2013) and Rapt in Secret Studies: Emerging Shakespeares (with Darryl Chalk, 2010). His Lost Playhouse book is being used by Southwark Council Building and Planning Control to inform archaeological and heritage assessments at the Elephant and Castle redevelopment, London, and he is currently working with the Museum of London Archaeology and a team of scholars in the United Kingdom and USA to develop a project on climate and cultural innovation in the early modern era. His paper is drawn from current research for a book on the Earl of Leicester’s Men, the most prominent Elizabethan playing company before Shakespeare.