The many incarnations of Kathryn Hummel include: writer of fiction and non-fiction; new media and print poet; poetry performer; snapshotter; PhD researcher and narrative ethnographer. Throughout these lifetimes, Kathryn has always focussed on the written word as a means of expression, of understanding the world and its people, of presenting the possibility to 'make all more free.'
Experimentation with narrative form in mixed (new) media poems like The Koenji Series forms one of Kathryn's attempts at 'freeing' the traditional way of words. These poems may be seen to deconstruct print poetry by adapting for digital presentation a narrative whose meaning relies, to a great extent, on the interaction between computer-generated text, images, format and mode of delivery. Since each poem remains ‘grounded in the materials which inscribe it’ (Burn 60), however, it is still language that aims to engage, causing readers to pause a little longer over each slide and become enmeshed in more than one layer of meaning. The pieces thus belong to a ‘field that is neither poetry nor not-poetry but an active exchange between [several] forms of discourse’ whose elements are ‘produced, distributed, archived, accessed, and/or assimilated on computers’ (Morris 19, 7). Digital images allow ‘clicking, zooming, scanning, copying, cutting, pasting, sequencing, and…framing’ (Carter 15), and are open to the individual gazer who may then transform them into a site of ‘identity-construction’ (de Boeck and Plissart; Harrison; Rogoff 149).
As well as the publications listed below and those in flux, Kathryn has recently completed a full-length narrative ethnography called The Women Alone: Details of Bangladesh Life and Adda. The Women Alone interprets the rise and fall of the stories of four women—Shadhana, Hasna, Katha and Israt— follows the events of their daily lives and the numerous patterns and topics of conversation—or at least, the ethnographer's version of it, for Kathryn is always there, listening, observing and absorbing details of the women through herself as a lens, then directing their stories outwards in writing. Bangladesh lends its constant presence to the stories: the ethnography opens with a description of dusty Dhaka city and charts eight phases of the year, noting the ashen chill of winter, the remorseless heat of the dry season and the wet intensity of monsoon; none of which daunt the active swarm in the streets. As time ‘runs’—and curls up and curves around—Kathryn's relationships with Shadhana, Hasna, Katha and Israt develop and show that, in the varied contexts of Bangladesh, being a woman alone can be hard labour, a cause for admiration, and many things in between.
At first formulated as a counter-discourse to the prevailing stereotypes of women in Bangladesh disseminated by the development industry, in turn flavoured by colonialist and Orientalist conceptions of 'Eastern' women, The Women Alone also acknowledges the ethnographer's role as an emotional actor in the narrative. Kathryn's own story balances her present and past experiences in Bangladesh, her converging identities as a woman, foreigner and writer devoted to the elusive cause of setting down the details of life. Although The Women Alone contains ‘only’ details, they are enough to provide insight into the depth and breadth of women’s experiences, as well as the ethical and literary quandaries of consigning them to text.
Critical responses to Kathryn's work
'A typical example of experiment can be seen in [Kathryn Hummel's] reworking...of Shakespare's play Much Ado About Nothing. Act II, scene I of the play is produced in the language that is commonly used today in the Internet chatting....Such new experiments may even prompt the literary world to devise some new genre.'
Bhimsen Thapaliya, The Rising Nepal
'Anatomy of the Wasteland is an intriguing work of poetic imagination. Its disarmingly straightforward means of exhibition compels a sort of involuntary hovering over each image, where the viewer is suspended in the
disjuncture between layers of the abstract and of the readily assimilable - a suspension, more exactly, between the time of these two modes of signification....the exegesis clearly evinces the work's thorough conceptualisation places it, furthermore, as an argument for practice-based research in the academy...
This is to say nothing of the poetry itself. Deceptively transparent, each fragment packs a dense punch, and asks for multiple rereads. These are deeply urban lines, wearing in their proportions and their tone echoes of passing conversation, advertising slogans, text messages (more so given the font choices). The lines themselves are solitary, moving to avoid contact with the cityscape they blow through, their unattainable referents belying the aphoristic form they resemble.'
Review of Anatomy of the Wasteland (photographic prose poem, forthcoming in print)
'[The Women Alone] is remarkable in a number of ways...blend[ing] the material in both a creative and theoretical sense across writing genres, across cultural sensitivities and across significant theoretical frameworks....
The creative work...is a beautifully realized artefact that uses a variety of creative forms to achieve a tapestry of impressions fo women's lives in Bangladesh that is culturally senstiive, intruiging and of great narrative merit.'
Dr Janie Conway-Herron, Southern Cross University
'I found Ms Hummel's approach...quite unlike any other...It is a unique work...One of the first things I noticed...is how many academic "boundaries" it crosses--one might say in a positively transgressive manner...In many ways, her resulting text exists within a number of descriptors: it reads like creative non-fcition, like an academic inquiry, like an embedded anthropologist's work, and also evokes the questions that might be raised by a conscientious (and somewhat tortured) cultural tourist. I see this multiplicity as strength...because it induces--and at times even forces--the reader/examiner to see how complex such ethnography...really becomes, if one is honest about the subject/object position while simultaneously challenging it. So here we have what I would call a post post-modern [text]!'
Dr Lynne Van Luven, University of Victoria
Education and training
- April 2009–March 2013 Doctor of Philosophy in Social Sciences (Communication and Information Studies), School of Communication, International Studies and Languages, University of South Australia. Status: passed examination, conferral in June 2013
- 2005–2006 Honours in Bachelor of Arts (First Class: English and Gender Studies), University of Adelaide. Status: conferred
- 2002 Bachelor of Arts, University of Adelaide. Status: conferred
- January 2013 Conference participant and presenter at the Postcoloniality in Transition International Conference, English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, India
- December 2012 Participant in ‘The Poetic Bliss’ International Poetry Fest, J.K.C College, Guntur, India
- April 2012 Organiser and convenor of ‘Bare Naked Poetry: A Night of Vers Libre’, Alliance Française de Dhaka, Bangladesh
- April 2012 Guest speaker/visiting poet at East West University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
October 2011 Conference participant, presenter and convener at the Twelfth Humanities Graduate Research Conference, ‘Changing Facts: Changing Minds; Changing Worlds’
June 2011 Research participant in the ‘Thinking Poetry’ masterclass, University of Melbourne
December 2009 Conference participant, presenter and convener at the Forum on Contemporary Theory XII International Conference, Trivandrum, India
December 2009 Conference participant and presenter at the Empire and English Studies International Conference, East West University, Bangladesh
- September 2011 PhD research grant from the Hawke Research Institute, South Australia
- April 2002 Zonta Club of Adelaide Woman of Achievement Award
- March 2002 University of South Australia’s Chancellor’s Merit List Award
- May 2011–October 2011 Cafe Poet in Residence, The Reading Room and Australian Poetry
Peer Reviewed Journal Publications
(Forthcoming) ‘Anatomy of the Wasteland’ in Bridie McCarthy and Alice Healy-Ingram (eds). New Scholar. 2. 2013.
‘Before and After A Night Out: the Impact of Revelation in Bangladesh’. M/C Journal: ‘impact’. 14: 6, 2011. http://journal.media-culture.org.au...
‘What’s So Great About Gulshan, Anyway? Instructions for the expatriated’. Social Alternatives: Shifting Cultures. 30:2, 2011: 13-16.
‘Austen’s English Roses’. Meanjin. 56.3&4. 1997: 735-737.
Peer Reviewed Conference Papers
(Forthcoming) ‘Wipe Your Boots at the Door: The Global Soul Returning Home’ in Provoking Texts: New Postgraduate Research from the Edge; Changing Facts: Changing Minds; Changing Worlds. 2013. Perth: Black Swan Press.
‘Deliciously In Between: Transgressing Borders with Gay Best friendship’ in Abdul R. JanMohamed (ed). Reconsidering Social Identification: Race, Gender, Class and Caste. 2011. New Delhi: Routledge, 260-81.
(Forthcoming) 'Birthday Triptych' in Ayn Frances Dela Cruz (ed). I, Icarus. Paper Monster Press. 2013.
‘Fish on Monroe’ in Andrew Burke, Peter Jeffrey, Nathan Hondros, et al. (eds). Regime 02: A Magazine of New Writing. 2. 2013. 15.
‘Gentlemanwallah’ in Roxy Hornbeck and Natasha Lovato (eds). quiet Shorts: All or Nothing: Stories of the disillusioned, disenfranchised and displaced. 2:2, 2012. 66.
‘Navigation’ in The Poetic Bliss. Eds. P. Gopichand and P. Nagasuseela. Guntur: JKC College, 2012. 94.
‘Crucify Eve’ in The Poetic Bliss. Eds. P. Gopichand and P. Nagasuseela. Guntur: JKC College, 2012. 93.
‘Dhanmondi Morning Metaphors’ in Vaughan Raptatahana (ed). Blackmail Press: Marginalization. 31, November 2011 http://www.blackmailpress.com/KH31....
‘Last Drinks in Adelaide’ SWAMP Issue 8. School of Humanities and Social Science of the University of Newcastle, Australia. http://www.swampwriting.com/?page_i..., 22 March 2011
‘Un Vieillard Au Bord De La Mer’. Spring Poetry Festival: Opinion. Ed. Sue Cook. Norwood: South Australian English Teachers Association, 1999. 34.
‘Place’ in Mikey Leung (ed.) Positive Light. 2012. Sydney: Crowdsourced Travel. 48.
‘Deep Desh’ in Mikey Leung and Belinda Meggitt (eds). Bangladesh. 2012. Bucks, UK: Bradt Travel Guides. 110.
‘Cafe Poet update: Writing and Watching’. Australian Poetry. http://www.australianpoetry.org/blo.... June 2011.
‘Guided By a Bengali Poet.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column..., June 2008.
‘Bangladesh: Colour & Chaos.’ Bangladesh English Language Teacher Trainer (BELTT). http://www.beltt.com.au/content/abo..., May 2008.
‘Rickshaw vs Car.’ Himal SouthAsian. http://www.himalmag.com/Voices/voic..., 21 March 2008.
‘The Rickshaw as an Endangered Species.’ PediCab News. http://www.pedicabnews.com/?p=843. February 29 2008.
‘The Rickshaw as an Endangered Species.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column..., February 2008.
‘In Conversation with Kaiser Haq.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column..., January 2008.
‘Living in a Po-Co World.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column..., November 2007.
‘An Outsider Gets Brief Glimpses of the Real Tibet.’ The Record, Friday 12 October 2007.
‘Sacred Ornas and Secret Longings.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column..., October 2007.
‘During the Deluge.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column..., September 2007.
‘Travellers See a Disney-fied Tibet.’ Gulf Times, Thursday September 20 2007.
‘Travels in Little China.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column..., August 2007.
‘Seeking Some Reprieve.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column..., June 2007.
‘Dr Dhaka’s Lonely Hearts Club.’ eDeshi. http://www.edeshi.com/news/Bengal-G..., May 2007.
‘Dr Dhaka’s Lonely Hearts Club.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column..., May 2007.
‘Deep ’Desh.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column..., April 2007.
‘My Wandering Days.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column..., March 2007.
‘Women of the Evolution: (Another) Discussion of Chick Lit.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column..., February 2007.
‘Five Years’ Mouldering, Now.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column..., January 2007.
‘A New Year’s Career.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column..., January 2007.
‘Bye-Bye Bridesmaiding.’ Sun Journal, http://www.sunjournal.com/story/188..., 3 December 2006.
‘Bridesmaids Revisited.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column..., November 2006.
‘Reel Australia.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column..., October 2006.
‘I Am/We Are/You May or May Not Be, Depending.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/columns/h..., September 2006.
‘Little Americans: They’re Everywhere!’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/columns/h..., August 2006.
‘Invasion of the McMansions.’ PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/columns/h..., July 2006.
‘Little America’s Term of Love’. PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/columns/h..., June 2006.
‘My Problem With Felicity.’ On Dit, 68.21, 2000: 5.
‘Love Letters to VS Naipaul: Hurricane Katrina’. Love Letters to VS Naipaul. http://lovelettertovsnaipaul.wordpr.... July 11 2011.
‘Playing the Swan’. Party Walls. Adelaide: Seaview, 2003.
‘Blowing It Out’. Cornerfold. <http://www8.sbs.com.au/cornerfold/c...>. May 2003.
‘A Kind of Conscious Sleep’. Piping Shrike: Ex Nihilo. Magill: Piping Shrike, 2001. 37-42.
‘Much Ado About Nothing: The SMS Version’. Anthology of Australasian Short Stories. Ed. Brian Dibble. Kathmandu: Spiny Babbler, 2003. 197-203.