Marilyn is a Hot Topic

Bendigo Advertiser

Friday February 19, 2016
By Chris Pedler

Sue Gillett & Edgar Burns
CLASS IS IN: Edgar Burns and Sue Gillett will present lectures in a new La Trobe University subject that focuses on Marilyn Monroe. The series of lectures is open to the public. Picture: NONI HYETT

A NEW La Trobe University elective subject will give people the chance to learn more about the life of Marilyn Monroe.

The subject, Exhibiting Culture: Marilyn, partners with the Marilyn Monroe exhibitions at Bendigo Art Gallery and Murray Art Museum Albury and is available to the public.

Bendigo academic Sue Gillett has developed a six-day program on the life, psychology, fame, femininity and untimely death of the screen siren.

“I’m obsessed,” admitted Dr Gillett. “I now know more about autopsies and conspiracy theories than I’ve ever wanted to know.

“I understand the tragedy of her life in much more detail now. As an academic what I’m trying to do is leverage off the story of her life to explore the social context – particularly issues of power, control, ownership, patriarchy and women’s bodies.”

“It’s a series of lectures that are running in conjunction with the art gallery, we did something similar last year with the Ned Kelly exhibition,” Dr Gillett said.

“Albury also has an exhibition of Marilyn at the same time and the subject runs across both exhibitions.”

Dr Gillett said Albury’s exhibition was more focused on the photographers and artists Monroe inspired while Bendigo’s focused on her films, costumes and personal items.

“There’s about 20 lectures in total, it’s a full weekend in Bendigo and a weekend in Albury,” Dr Gillett said.

“Members of the public can enrol for either one or both weekends.”

Lecture topics will include Construction of Identity, Sexualisation and Hollywood and Marilyn in a Man’s World.

 “I’m a cultural studies lecturer and didn’t know that much about Marilyn originally but this is a good opportunity to explore more widely around her significance,” Dr Gillett said.

“This subject is for anyone who might want a bit more of an in-depth understanding of the context of Marilyn’s life.”

Sociology lecturer Edgar Burns will present the Marilyn in a Man’s World lecture.

“This was a world before feminism, it’s the same world people think of when they see Mad Men on TV,” he said.

“It was a sexist, male-orientated world. I’m particularly interested in her wanting to be a more professional actress, not just a pin-up girl.”

Exhibiting Culture: Marilyn will take place in Bendigo from April 15 to 17 and in Albury from April 29 to May 1.

Enrolment includes unlimited entry to the Bendigo Art Gallery and Murray Art Museum Albury exhibitions for the two weeks in between.

Find course details on the La Trobe website and to view this story, visit the Bendigo Advertiser website.

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