Joint Digital Master's Programme "Australian Studies"

Given current transformations in academia that foster digital transnational interconnectedness, the PTTS team is pleased to announce the establishment of a joint Master's programme in the field of Australian Studies, in cooperation with several universities located in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia. For a two-year period, the NRW Ministry of Culture and Science (Düsseldorf) is providing generous funding for the creation, accreditation, and implementation of this innovative MA programme (4/2022 to 3/2024).

Initiated by the University of Cologne’s Centre for Australian Studies, and together with partners at the Universities of Düsseldorf and Duisburg-Essen, the PTTS team is developing an inter- and transdisciplinary digital Master’s programme in Australian Studies. It is an exceptional project that uses the possibilities of digitization strategically and sustainably to establish the first MA in Australian Studies worldwide, with the explicit focus to engage with this field from postcolonial, transnational, and transcultural perspectives. 

For this MA, much of the teaching will be conducted online and asynchronously while significant elements of face-to-face interaction will be vital to the success of the programme. Classes will not only be offered by the Universities of Cologne, Duisburg/Essen, Düsseldorf, and Münster; we expect that a host of institutions in Australia will also join in. Among them are ANU Canberra, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Macquarie University, ACU Melbourne, Sydney University, University of Western Australia, and the University of Western Sydney.

With the MA “Australian Studies” we seek to:

  • internationalize teaching and study through cooperation with lecturers and students from Germany and Australia
  • strengthen the field of Australian Studies at the University of Münster
  • emphasise the study of diversity, migration, environmental issues and indigenous cultures as well as on Australia in a global context
  • help our students gain knowledge about several intersectional research fields and to gain comparative insights into the academic landscape of a central European country and the Australian continent
  • lay the groundwork for future dual degree study programmes that will aid our students’ international mobility
  • allow for the compatibility of studies and family/care work
  • contribute significantly to the further internationalization of the participating German universities
  • prepare students for careers with relevant government agencies as well as NGOs, museums, or the media sector
  • deepen future teachers’ understanding of digital teaching and participation.



Classes taught at the University of Münster during the development phase of the programme

Here, you can find a list of courses that were taught at the English Department of the University of Münster during the development phase of the Joint Digital Master's Programme Australian Studies:

Winter Semester 23/24

  • Australian Transmedia Culture (joint teaching by yashka Chavan and Prof. Dr. Mark U. Stein)

Today, readers engage with media content that crosses multiple media formats. They consume transmedia. They are denizens of transmedia culture. And, in the context of this seminar, they are the denizens of Australian transmedia culture; although national culture and transmedia are anathema. This content (information, narrative, films, visuals, sound, music, stories, characters, story-worlds) – converges in and unfolds through a spectrum of different media and their platforms.

The global transmedia phenomenon has led to the flourishing of transmedia studies in departments and schools across the academy, including departments focussing on literature, culture, film, and Australian Studies, such as ours. In this seminar, you will learn about various aspects of transmediality, how these aspects can be understood and studied, and which impact transmedia culture can have. Drawing on methodologies for studying convergent media across multiple platforms, the focus of this seminar is on contemporary Australian artistic production and the analysis of its specific transmedia meaning-making processes. Special emphasis is placed on the intersection, convergence, and dialogic relationships between different media and their engagement with issues of identity, migration, politics of belonging, and the nation.

The seminar analyses how writers, artists, and creators utilise different media to express their stories and ideas. Transmedia studies often involves examining how themes, narratives, and aesthetics transcend individual media formats and extend across platforms. In this context, participants will explore how visual art, music, and narrative intersect and contribute to a deeper understanding of the cultural product and its context. Such an interdisciplinary approach can provide valuable insights into the interconnectedness of artistic expression and communication.

Under the rubric of transmedia studies, this seminar engages with different (trans)media – including visual (comics, paintings, music videos, illustrations, photography etc.), sound (aural) (spoken word poetry, hip-hop, rap, and death metal music, etc.), and textual (trans)media (poetry, narrative, essay, academic writing, etc.). The work by two practitioners, Safdar Ahmed and Omar Musa, traverses different media and stands at the centre of this seminar along with Hoda Afshar’s photo series. The seminar will also engage with works by Aboriginal artists including Kaylene Whiskey, Tracey Moffat, Tony Albert, and Vincent Namatjira.

This class is part of our projected online MA in Australian Studies, whose development and implementation is currently funded by the Ministry (MKW NRW). Therefore, several of the sessions will not take place in the classroom but will be taught asynchronously. Details can be found out in the first seminar session.

  • Indigenous Australian Literature: An Introduction (block seminar, taught by Rita Elizabeth Maricocchi)

Recently, Wiradjuri scholar and writer Jeanine Leane has drawn attention to the fact that in the Australian context largely white settler critics and academics decide “what is and isn’t Western literature” and that Indigenous writing is still treated as Australian literature’s “poor relation” (“Presencing” in The Cambridge Companion to the Australian Novel). It is, hence, the objective of this course to read texts by Indigenous Australian authors which use the English language to expand and resist these colonial and imaginative limits. Designed to give students an overview of contemporary Indigenous Australian writing, this course will cover selections of Indigenous poetry, prose, and art ranging across the 20th and 21st centuries. Particular attention will be paid to context and place, acknowledging the diversity and specificity of the First Nations cultures and histories that inform the texts. In addition, three different theoretical lenses will be used to approach the texts, namely 1) “speculative futures” to open questions about genre, its affordances, and the risks of applying western genre categories to Indigenous texts, 2) “revision” to explore how texts and other artistic expressions disrupt and erase the settler colony, 3) “shame, anger, and other colonial affects” as a means of interrogating the affective encounter of reading Indigenous literature from a settler/non-Indigenous positionality and the productivity of shame and anger in thinking through settler colonialism.

Please note that this course is designed as a Blockseminar. It has a separate session at the start of term followed by three full day sessions for intense discussions and group work in the first week after the end of term. There will be sufficient breaks scheduled during the latter.

Students should note that this is a reading intensive course and should be ready to approach the texts with curiosity and open-mindedness in order to challenge and rethink their own assumptions, and to engage with each other in a shared process of learning. Students are asked to complete the readings and participate actively in in-class discussions.

Summer Semester 2023

  • Migration, Mobility, and Movement in Australian Texts (taught by yashka Chavan)

This course looks at how patterns of migration, mobility, and movement are represented in the selected ”Australian” texts with an emphasis on indigenous and transnational perspectives. Covering various genres such as fiction in the form of a novel, nonfiction in the form of biography and memoir, and a silent graphic novel, the texts offer different points of view by indigenous writers and writers with ”migration background” in Australia. A special emphasis is placed on how the titular concepts are manifested in the selected texts and how the texts make interventions in the discourses on the politics of nation-building and belonging to the nation-state, citizenship, and indigenous cosmologies and epistemologies. As such, students will engage with different mediums (literary text, graphic novel and film as visual mediums etc.) and reflect how their specific meaning making mechanisms can help unpack the politics of migration, mobility, and movement in contemporary Australian literature and culture.

  • Migrant and Diasporic Masculinities in Australian Texts (taught by yashka Chavan)

How do experiences of migration, exile, and living in diaspora construct masculinities? This course explores this central question through texts produced by male writers and filmmakers in the context of contemporary Australian literature and culture. Using sociologist Raewyn Connell’s model of masculinities and pairing it Anna Hickey-Moody’s use of Deleuzian philosophy in the field of masculinity studies, the course draws attention to how masculinities are negotiated, and intersect and entangle with the discourses of race, ethnicity, and spatiality. Covering diverse literary genres such as memoir and short stories, and visual mediums such graphic novel, interactive digital adaptation, webcomic reportage and film, the selected texts offer a glimpse into portraits of masculinities shaped by migration, diaspora, and the political discourse of asylum process.

  • Reading the Transpacific (taught by Peri Sipahi)

In her work Ocean Passages, Erin Suzuki initiates ways to read across the fields of transpacific Asian American and Indigenous Pacific studies that will be explored in this course. Heavily militarized, nuclearized, racialized and colonized, the modern Transpacific emerges as a region and an idea that connects a multiplicity of Indigenous and Asian American histories, epistemologies and imaginaries. This course will introduce students to a wide range of contemporary transpacific scholarship and art that imagines from and with the ocean and establishes relations through the Pacific. Students will engage with various forms of intercultural relations and solidarity between Asian American and Indigenous Pacific cultures. Moreover, students will be familiarised with the terminologies, concepts and intersecting disciplines that are central to transpacific scholarship such as displacement, new materialism, discard studies or gender studies. We will especially focus on Indigenous perspectives on the ocean as well as the recent ‘oceanic’ turn in Western literary studies.

Winter Semester 2022/23

  • Writing from "Down Under": Indigenous, Migrant, and Post/colonial Short Stories (taught by Prof. Dr. Mark U. Stein)

As Stephen Torre has suggested, "the short story is both diagnostic and constitutive of trends in Australian literary creativity." He adds that the genre displays "a globalised literary imagination, with many of today's authors producing work for an international audience” (2009). In this seminar, we will first read up on concepts of and approaches to the short story genre; on Australian history; and then analyze a range of short stories from Australia by different authors: Indigenous, migrant, or post/colonial; cisgender or queer; urban or rural. The earliest story on the syllabus dates from the late nineteenth century, the latest one from this decade. Authors include Henry Lawson, Henry Handel Richardson, Katharine Susannah Prichard, Patrick White, Oodgeroo, Mena Abdullah, David Malouf, Frank Moorhouse, Gerald Mumane, Murray Bail, Peter Carey, Alexis Wright, Tim Winton, and more.

Participants are required to complete the set reading each week, participate in class discussion, and give an oral presentation or chair a session.

  • Practice: Theory and Literature (Group V): Australian Film (taught by AR Felipe Espinoza Garrido)

Summer Semester 2022

  • Practice: Theory and Literature (Group V): Contemporary Australian Literature and Culture (taught by AR Felipe Espinoza Garrido)
  • Practice: Theory and Literature (Group III): Contemporary Australian Literature and Culture (taught by Rita Elizabeth Maricocchi)

World Literature and the Appeal of the National: The Case of Outback Noir
Guest Lecture by Dr. Karin Althans | Thursday, 14 Dec. 2023 | Audi Max

© PTTS Münster

Join us for a lecture on "World Literature and the Appeal of the National: The Case of Outback Noir", delivered by Dr. Katrin Althans. This engaging session is part of the ongoing lecture "Global Literatures in English" by Prof. Dr. Mark U. Stein, Chair of English, Postcolonial and Media Studies.

Dr. Katrin Althans's research focuses on postcolonial anglophone and transcultural studies, as well as British literary and cultural studies. She is particularly interested in the fields of law & literature, Australian and Indigenous studies, Gothic and Crime Fiction Studies, and literary and cultural theories.

The lecture will be held on December 14, 2023, at 12.15 PM, at Audi Max, Johannisstraße 12-20, Münster.


Australian Studies Day #ASD2023



© PTTS Münster
  • © PTTS Münster
  • © PTTS Münster

The Australian Studies Day #ASD (30 June 2023) featured 16 speakers and panellists who addressed the features of this academic discipline and what’s required to teach the field at MA-level. Hosted by the Chair of English, Postcolonial and Media Studies (PTTS), the event was part of an ongoing collaboration between the Universities of Cologne (UzK), Düsseldorf (HHU), Duisburg-Essen (UDE), and Münster. The collaboration, funded by the MKW Ministry, Düsseldorf, aims to develop a joint M.A. programme in Australian Studies. The renowned Australian writer Gillian Polack joined the event over Zoom and provided a captivating reading of her selected works, enriching the experience for participants. ASD 2023 brought together team members from all four Universities and aimed to engage with and inform different stakeholders and students at the University of Münster about the unique, innovative programme, which makes use of digital teaching tools and asynchronous teaching formats. The conference dinner on the preceding night and the main event provided welcome opportunities for attendees to interact and network.

Australian Studies Day
Friday, June 30, 2023 | 9.00-15.00
JO1, Johannistraße 4, Münster

© PTTS Münster

The PTTS Chair will host an Australian Studies Day at the University of Münster on June 30, 2023 from 9:00-15:00 in JO1. We invite all interested students and staff to this event and hope that we can welcome you on this occasion!

The  Australian Studies Day follows on from the highly successful project launch of the joint digital master's programme "Australian Studies" in Cologne last year. The event is designed to report on the development of the MA programme to stakeholders at the University of Münster as well as to facilitate in-person exchange between the four partner universities (Cologne, Düsseldorf, Duisburg-Essen, and Münster). The day's programme will also reflect on the research field and teaching area Australian Studies: what constitutes its core components, what ties it together, and why is it such a vital and exciting research field at the current moment? From literary to cultural studies and linguistics; from feminism to gender studies; from indigeneity to environmentalism; and from migration studies to diaspora, Australian Studies is marked by a complex overlap and intersection of concerns and methods. As such it has so much to offer to adjacent disciplines, including not just English Studies, American Studies, and Postcolonial Studies but also cultural geography, history, different philologies, and more.

We look forward to debating these ideas with you on June 30th! The programme can be accessed here.

If you wish to access the event online, you can find the Zoom link here.

Launch Event: Online MA Australian Studies
18 Nov 2022

© MA Australian Studies

Australian Studies Online is a collaborative project funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North-Rhine Westphalia that seeks to establish an inter-and transdisciplinary master’s programme within the humanities.

In collaboration with the Universities of Cologne, Duisburg-Essen, and Düsseldorf, we at the Chair of English, Postcolonial and Media Studies of the University of Münster are currently developing, implementing, and evaluating innovative digital teaching formats and materials.

The Australian Studies MA programme, which will be offered mainly online, starting in summer term 2024, addresses historical developments, contemporary challenges, and future visions in the context of Australia.

You can find the programme of the launch event, which will be held on November 18th 2022, here.