APPLICATIONS CLOSED: Joyce Thorpe Nicholson Fellowship

Congratulations Vanessa O'Neill on being awarded the 2017 Joyce Thorpe Nicholson Fellowship.

Title of work: The Greer Effect Proposed outcomes: A one-woman play written and performed by Vanessa O’Neill – based upon extensive research into both the Germaine Greer Collection and the Joyce Thorpe Nicholson Collection at the University of Melbourne.

Brief summary: This piece will explore the effect of Germaine Greer’s work over the last five decades. It will seek to investigate Greer in her many and varied roles: as academic, performer, writer, journalist, lecturer, libertarian, comedian and provocateur.

Project description: This project will draw upon the extensive archival materials contained within the Germaine Greer Collection, including letters, articles, lecture notes, interviews, diary entries, news clippings, video and audio footage, photos and ephemera. The work will celebrate the diversity and multi-faceted nature of Germaine Greer: fiercely intelligent, cheeky and playful, deliberately provocative, and consistently challenging taboos. The play will also make detailed use of the Joyce Thorpe Nicholson Collection. This collection has a range of Greer’s work, including a first edition copy of The Female Eunuch and a paperback edition that includes Nicholson’s own hand written comments and underlined sections. The impact of Greer’s work upon Joyce Nicholson is documented in a number of her own publications. Nicholson’s What Society Does to Girls (1975) begins with the chapter ‘Having My Eyes Opened’ which commences with the following text: “When I read The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer, I could not sleep for three nights. I felt she must have taken me for a case history, and so much that I had not been able to understand was suddenly made clear.” In Nicholson’s A Life of Books: The Story of D.W. Thorpe Pty Ltd (2000), in the chapter ‘Life gets even better’, she also writes about the effect that Greer’s work had upon her: “Suddenly I felt free. I could enjoy my new life without any more reservations...I am sure I looked the same, but I felt quite different and I liked the new me.” In this work, Nicholson recounts her experiences of meeting Greer in person: “In January there was a big party for the launch of The Female Eunuch, where I met Germaine Greer. I was to meet her on two later occasions and always found her a person of great humanity.” Nicholson’s writings offer important insights into the power of Greer’s works – in particular the impact that The Female Eunuch had upon women around the world when it was published. Joyce Nicholson’s work is crucial to this play, which will draw upon first hand accounts from women who have been deeply affected by Greer’s work. The Joyce Thorpe Nicholson Collection also offers the chance to examine Greer’s work in the context of other Australian feminist writers. Greer has frequently been derided and simplified within mainstream media. I want to explore Greer in all of her complexity – especially in relation to what she has provoked over the years in others. Greer was 30 when she commenced work on The Female Eunuch. (She is now 78). The book was immediately an international best seller and has never been out of print. At a time when the President of the United States publicly derides Hilary Clinton for being a ‘nasty woman’, and is caught boasting that he likes to grab a women ‘by the pussy’ (and still manages to be elected), it seems particularly timely re-visit Greer – one of the most notoriously ‘difficult’ and ‘nasty’ women on the planet. This play will seek to explore how society responds to women who boldly speak their truths, no matter how complex, difficult or unpopular. It will use Greer’s own words, as well as the responses and reverberations from a diverse range of women and men to her work (including those of Joyce Nicholson). In recognition of the fact that much of Greer’s academic work has involved teaching, writing and lecturing on Shakespeare, I plan to incorporate some of Shakespeare’s most notoriously ‘difficult’ female characters within this play. I will draw upon Greer’s lecture notes and writings on Shakespeare, to explore the echoes between Greer and these incredibly articulate and provocative female characters (including Kate, Rosalind, Beatrice, Queen Margaret and Cleopatra). My aim is to create a compelling, thought-provoking, complex and entertaining new piece of feminist theatre.

The Joyce Thorpe Nicholson Fellowship is named in honour of Joyce Thorpe Nicholson. The fellowship shall be awarded to a scholar or writer to produce work that is based around the Joyce Thorpe Nicholson collection that incorporates her main areas of belief and work, particularly women’s issues and Australian publishing.

It is a $10,000 fellowship. Applications close 6 June 2017.

The daughter of publisher DW Thorpe, Joyce Thorpe Nicholson was born in Melbourne and educated at Methodist Ladies College and the University of Melbourne. She was active in the women's movement and the Australian publishing industry for many years, and authored over 25 books, many of them dealing with women's issues. Joyce Thorpe Nicholson  was a co-founder of Sisters Publishing in 1979, set up to publish women writers as an alternative to mainstream publishers. She generously donated her major collection of nearly 2000 books by and about Australian women to Special Collections at the University of Melbourne. It includes rare nineteenth-century material, as well as scarce twentieth-century political ephemera.

Criteria for Joyce Thorpe Nicholson Fellowship

  • Use of the Joyce Thorpe Nicholson collection (this can extend to Rare Books and Archives)
  • Excellence of the proposal, judged by originality, significance and engagement with the collections
  • Track record of the applicant, judged by successfully completed projects, publications, references and impact
  • Potential impact of proposal on research and/or engagement with the collections and/or the local community.
  • Relevance to the University's research, teaching and learning and engagement.
  • Ability to present a seminar, lecture or creative work including performance on the outcomes of the research. Applicants must submit a CV (including contact details, qualifications and relevant appointments, projects and publications, and references) and a project proposal of 600 words or less, full application 1300 words.

Email Enquiries


Application form (Word Doc)

More Information

Susan Millard