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Prof. Dr. Kay Schaffer

The Centre for Australian Studies is deeply saddened to hear of the death of Prof. Kay Schaffer, a wonderful colleague and friend and one of the most significant figures in Australian literary and feminist scholarship.

Her works on Australian cultural history, feminism and human rights have had international impact and have influenced the scholarship at the Centre in Cologne immensely. During her DAAD guest professorship in 2010 at the University of Cologne her teaching and scholarship lay the foundation of Australian cultural studies as a major field of interest in the English Department which ultimately led to the establishment of the Centre for Australian Studies in 2017. She was always supportive to younger colleagues and students, we very much enjoyed her company and benefited from her intellect. We are grateful for all her support and feel lucky to have worked closely with her in joint publications, conferences and research projects.

We send our deepest condolences to Kay’s husband Robert, her family and friends. She will be greatly missed.

Kay Schaffer was an Adjunct Professor in Gender, Work and Social Inquiry, School of Social Studies at the University of Adelaide and at the Hawke Research Centre for Sustainable Environment, University of South Australia. She worked in the areas of gender studies, cultural studies, and literary studies.

Her work concerned the significance of personal testimony and storytelling in human rights campaigns and contexts, including narratives of recovery emanating from China, South Africa, and Australia.

In 2004 she co-authored Human Rights and Narrated Lives: The Ethics of Recognition with Sidonie Smith (Palgrave, 2004).



The Bush, Gender and History: Australian Feminist Perspectives.  Ed. by HuangLin, trans by Huang Ping, et al. Guilin: Guangxi University Press (in press).

Human Rights and Narrated Lives: The Ethics of Recognition, with Sidonie Smith). New York: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2004, 303 pp.

The Olympics at the Millenium: Performance, Politics and the Games, with Sidonie Smith). New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2000, 320 pp.

Constructions of Colonialism: Perspectives on Eliza Fraser’s Shipwreck, with Ian Mc Niven and Lynette Russell. London: Cassell/ Leicester University Press, 1998, 192 pp.

Indigenous Australian Voices: A Reader, with Jennifer Sabbioni and Sidonie Smith.  New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1998, 310 pp.

In the Wake of First Contact: The Eliza Fraser Stories. Melbourne, New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995/6, 320 pp.

Women and the Bush: Forces of Desire and the Australian Cultural Tradition. Melbourne, New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987/8, 224 pp.

Captured Lives: Australian Captivity Narratives. London: Sir Robert Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, 1993 (with Kate Darian-Smith and Roslyn Poignant), 57 pp.


with Xianlin Song, “Unruly Spaces: Gender, Women’s Writing and Indigenous Feminism in China”, Journal of Gender Studies 16, 1 (March, 2007), 17-30.

with Xianlin Song, “Writing Beyond the Wall: Translation, Cross-Cultural Exchange and Chen Ran’s A Private Life”, Portal: Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies 3, 2 (2006).

with Xianlin Song, “Narrative, trauma and memory: Chen Ran’s A Private Life,Tiananmen Square and female embodiment”, Asian Studies Review 30.2 (June 2006), 161-73.

with Sidonie Smith, “Human Rights, Storytelling, and the Position of the Beneficiary: Antjie Krog’s Country of my Skull”, PMLA (Publications of the Modern Language Association) 121. 3 (Oct. 2006), 1577-84.

with Sidonie Smith, “Conjunctions: Life Narratives in the Field of Human Rights”, Biography 27.1 (Win, 2004) 1-24.

with Emily Potter, “ ‘Rabbit-Proof Fence’, Relational Ecologies and the Comodification of Indigenous Experience”, Australian Humanities Review, 31-32 (2004), 24  pp.[article translated into Danish and reprinted in The Poles of Assimilation - Greenland and Aboriginal Australia in a Postcolonial Perspective, ed. by Lars Jensen, Kirsten Holst Petersen, Sanne Kok and Lene Bull Christiansen, Roskilde, Denmark: Cultural Encounters, 2004, 29-40.]

with Sidonie Smith, “Venues of Storytelling: the circulation of testimony in human rights campaigns”, Life Writing 1.2 (2004), pp. 3-26.

“Narrative Lives and Human Rights: The Stolen Generation and the Ethics of Recognition”, Dorothy Green Memorial Lecture, JASAL (Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature),  3 (2004), 5-25.

“Critical Conundrums: Representing the Historical Agency of Women in the Southern African Region” Major  review essay on ‘Women Writing Africa: The Southern Region’ (2003). Ed. by Margaret J. Daymond, Dorothy Driver, Sheila Meintjes, Leloba Molema, Chiedza Musengezi, Margie Orford and Nobantu Rasebotsa, Biography 27.2 (Spring, 2004).

with Sidonie Smith, “ ‘Land of the Free?”: Circulating Human Rights and Narrated Lives in the United States”, Comparative American Studies 1.3 (2003), 263-84. [revised and reprinted as “ ‘Land of the Free’: Circulating Human Rights and Narrated Lives in the United States”: 109-31. In Intercultural America. Ed. by Alfred Hornung  in collaboration with Winfried Herget and Klaus Lubbers. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2007 ]. 

"The Stolen Generations and Public Responsibility", Antipodes: A North American Journal of Australian Literature, 16, 2 (Dec., 2002), 4-8.

“Manne’s Generation: White Nation Responses to the Stolen Generation Report” Australian Humanities Review July-Sept, 2001),

“Getting over the genocide question—Australian Historiography and the Stolen Generations debates: Review Essay:  Aboriginal History 25 (2001), Special Section: ‘Genocide’?: Australian Aboriginal history in international perspective”, in borderlands [electronic journal]1.2 (Dec., 2002)

"Cultural Studies at the Millennium: tributes, themes, directions", Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 14,3 (Nov., 2000), 265-75.

"Women and the Republic: Dancing To a Different Tune?", Hecate 25, 1 (1999), 94-101.

with Heather Kerr, “Introduction: Postcoloniality/Cultural Studies” Continuum: A Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 13, 3 (Dec., 1999), 301-4.

"Scare Words: 'Feminism', Postmodernism Consumer Culture and the Media", Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 12, 3 (1998), 321-34.

"The Contested Zone: Cybernetics, Feminism and Representation", Journal of Australian Studies, 50/51 (1996), 157-64. [Translated and reprinted in Cyberfemininizam. Ed. By Igor Markovic. Zagreb: Centre for Cultural Studies, 1999.]

"The Eliza Fraser Story and Constructions of Race, Class and Gender in Australian Culture," Hecate: Special Issue on Women/Australia/Theory 17, 1 (1991), 136-149.

"Trial by Media: The Case of Eliza Fraser" Antipodes: A North American Journal of Australian Literature, 5, 2 (Winter, 1991), 114-120.

"Australian Mythologies: Eliza Fraser, Sidney Nolan, Patrick White, 'A Fringe of Leaves' and 'Female Sexuality". Kunapipi, 11, 2 (1989), 1-16. Reprinted in Them and Us: New Literatures in English. Ed. By Gordon Collier. Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi Press.

"Women and the Bush: Australian National Identity and Representations of the Feminine," Antipodes: A North American Journal of Australian Literature, 6 (June, 1989), 7-15.

"Landscape Representation and Australian National Identity", Australian Journal of Cultural Studies, 4, 2 (September 1987), 47-60.

"Stripping the Bed Bare-Again", Hecate, 13, 2 (1987/8), 158-160. An earlier version of this paper appears as a Catalogue Essay for an Art Exhibition on Sexuality entitled Stripping the Bed Bare, Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide, November, 1986.

"Critical Dilemmas: Looking for K[atharine] S[usannah] P[richard]", Hecate 10, 2 (1984), 45-52.