An Emeritus Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Queensland, I have been writing about Australian culture, media and society for many years. I have published 30 books and my work has been translated into 11 languages. The most recent books include an account of our diminished political culture, The Shrinking Nation (2023), and a study of John Farnham’s Whispering Jack (2022). Over the years, my research and public commentary has pioneered the study of Australian popular music, the political influence of talkback radio, the emergence of celebrity culture, and the consequences of what I have described as the ‘reinvention’ of the media for the digital era.
I have a long history of policy engagement at the state and federal level. In the 1990s, I served as Chair of the Arts Advisory Committee for the Goss government in Queensland, providing strategic policy advice for the rebuilding of the arts and culture sector. Over 2004-2019, I represented the humanities on many federal committees on higher education and research, including numerous roles with the Australian Research Council and two terms as a member of the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council from 2008 -2014. I was awarded an AO in 2019 in recognition of my contribution to cultural studies, the humanities and higher education.
In another life, I moonlighted as a semi-pro musician, playing in clubs and bars from the late 1960s into the mid-80s in Australia, Canada and the UK, and setting up an independent record company (Homegrown) in the late 1970s. I released two albums with the label in the early 1980s.
I have moved out of full-time academic work now, and this blog is aimed at reaching a wider audience interested in what I might have to say about contemporary issues in Australian culture, media and society.