The Annual Academy Lecture

Every year the Academy invites a Fellow to deliver the Annual Academy Lecture. Lectures presented between 1970 and 2009 were published in Proceedings. From 2010, the Academy Lecture can be found in Humanities Australia.

The 2014 Academy Lecture

2014 Academy Lecture: Generosity & the Institutions of the Humanities by Emeritus Professor Lesley Johnson AM FAHA

Generosity and the Institutions of the Humanities
In this lecture, I will reflect on some of the changes that have occurred within three institutions – the research library, the university and the learned academy – and how they have been reshaping our ways of working and thinking about ourselves as humanities scholars in recent decades. Each of these institutions serves and influences the form and content of the disciplinary knowledges associated with the humanities. And they provide important spaces in which values, modes of social exchange and ways of researching, thinking and writing, associated with these disciplines, are shaped and enacted. I will argue that these institutions have been generous in the past in the kinds of spaces and environments they have provided for humanities scholarship at the same time as they created the conditions that enabled and encouraged scholarly work guided by a commitment to generosity as a fundamental virtue of the humanities. I will trace the embattled character of generosity in these three institutions today. However, I will also argue that a focus on generosity offers us a way of thinking about what it is that we want to protect, recreate, or rework about our practices, values and institutions for the future.

PHOTO: Mitchell Library Reading Room, State Library of NSW. By Jason7825 [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons.

Previous Academy Lectures

  • 2013: Professor Peter Hiscock FSA FAHA, Creators or Destroyers: The Burning Questions of Human Impact in Ancient Aboriginal Australia
  • 2011: Professor Joseph Lo Bianco AM FAHA, Politics, Poetics and Policy: Humanities and the New Borders
  • 2010: Emeritus Professor Graeme Clarke AO FAHA, Can the Mute Stones Speak?
  • 2009: Professor Ian Donaldson FAHA, The Idea of an Academy
  • 2008: Professor Jaynie Anderson FAHA, Spectacle in Sixteenth-Century Venice: or How Carpaccio, Giorgione and Titian represented Patrician Youth Theatre 
  • 2007: Professor Iain Davidson FAHA, Scales and Balance: Archaeology, Cultural Heritage and Sustainability 
  • 2006: Professor Michael Clyne FAHA, Multilingual Society with a Monolingual Mindset 
  • 2005: Professor Graeme Turner FAHA, Informing the Public: Is There a Place for a Critical Humanities? 
  • 2004: Professor Iain McCalman FAHA, Teddy Roosevelt’s Trophy: History and Nostalgia
  • 2003: Dr Inga Clendinnen FAHA, Backstage at the Republic of Letters
  • 2002: Professor Mark Finnane FAHA, Inquiries into Truth 
  • 2001: Professor Malcolm Gillies FAHA, Alternative Australias: Fates and Fortunes 
  • 2000: Associate Professor David Christian FAHA, 'Big History', Globalisation and Australia: Towards a More Inclusive Account of the Past 
  • 1999: The Hon. Barry Jones AO FAHA, Framing a New Australian Republic
  • 1998: Professor Margaret Clunies Ross FAHA, Ancestral Songs: Understandings of Aboriginal Song since 1788
  • 1997: Professor Rhys Jones FAHA, Australian Archaeology: A Contested Discipline
  • 1996: Professor Roger Covell FAHA, Bush and Backwoods: Myths of Musical Identity in Australia and the United States
  • 1995: David Malouf FAHA, The Uses of the Past
  • 1994: Professor D.M. Schreuder FAHA, History’s Page: The Humanities and Australia as a Post-Colonial Society
  • 1993: Professor J.R. Green FAHA, Theatre and the Greeks
  • 1992: Professor Dame Leonie Kramer AC DBE FAHA, 'Wild Words': The Condition of Language in Australia
  • 1991: Professor G.E. Schulz FAHA, Philosophers and Kings: Variations on an Old Theme
  • 1990: Professor M.M. Manion FAHA, The Humanities and the Australian Environment
  • 1989: Professor J.P. Hardy, The Humanities and the Challenge
  • 1988: Emeritus Professor S.A. Wurm FAHA, Language Atlases
  • 1987: Professor J.A. Scott FAHA, Myth in Dante and Petrarch
  • 1986: Professor G.A. Wilkes FAHA, The Role of the Critic and the Language of Criticism
  • 1985: Associate Professor K.K. Campbell FAHA, Technology and Philosophy of Work
  • 1984: Professor A.R. Stephens FAHA, The Sun State and its Shadow
  • 1983: Professor G. Blainey FAHA, The See-Saw of Pride and Disillusionment
  • 1982: Professor Wang Gungwu FAHA, The Chinese Urge to Civilise: Reflections on Change
  • 1981: Professor G.A. Wilkes FAHA, Insurgents and Survivors: The Language of a Colonial Culture
  • 1980: Professor D.J. Mulvaney FAHA, European Vision and Australia’s Heritage
  • 1979: Professor A.D. Trendall FAHA, Twenty Years of Progress in Classical Archaeology
  • 1978: Professor B.W. Smith FAHA, Art as Information: Thoughts on the Art from Captain Cook’s Voyages
  • 1977: Professor J. Golson FAHA, The Ladder of Social Evolution: Archaeology and the Bottom Rungs
  • 1976: Professor R.N. Coe FAHA, The Persecution and Assassination of Macbeth as Performed in Two Centuries of French Theatre
  • 1975: Professor J.A. Passmore FAHA, Imagination in the Arts and Science
  • 1974: Professor Wang Gungwu FAHA, The Rebel-Reformer in Modern Chinese Biography
  • 1973: Dr F.J. West FAHA, Biography as History
  • 1972: Dr Ursula Hoff FAHA, Goethe and the Dutch Interior: A Study in the Imagery of Romanticism
  • 1971: Professor H.J. Oliver FAHA, 'Cur’d and Perfect': The Problem of Shakespeare’s Text
  • 1970: Professor A.D. Hope FAHA, The Literary Influence of Academies
  • 1969: Professor J.T. Burke FAHA, Neo-Classicism and the Enlightenment: The English Phase

Event Details

The 2014 Academy Lecture will take place at this year's Annual Symposium, on Friday 21 November at the Coombs Lecture Theatre, The Australian National University at 1:30pm. Further information on the Symposium and how to register is available on this website.



Emeritus Professor
Lesley Johnson AM FAHA

President, Australian Academy
of the Humanities


The Academy gratefully acknowledges the support of The Australian National University.

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