Rachel Franks, Simon Dwyer, Denise N. Rall


To re-imagine can, at one extreme, be a casual thought (what if I moved all the furniture in the living room?) and, at the other, re-imagining can be a complex process (what if I adapt a classic text into a major film?). 

There is a long history of working with the ideas of others and of re-working our own ideas. Of taking a concept and re-imagining it into something that is similar to the original and yet offers something new. Such re-imaginations are all around us; from the various interpretations of the Sherlock Holmes stories to the adjustments made, often over generations, to family recipes. 

Some of these efforts are the result of a creative drive to experiment and push boundaries, some efforts are inspired by changes in society or technology, yet others will be born of a sense of 'this can be done better' or 'done differently'. 

Essentially, to re-imagine is to ask questions, to interrogate that which is often taken for granted. 

This issue of M/C Journal seeks to explore the 'why' and the 'how' of re-imagining both the everyday and the extraordinary. In a reflection of the scale and scope of the potential to re-imagine all that is around us, this issue is particularly diverse. The contributions offer explorations into varied disciplines, use a range of methodological lenses, and deploy different writing styles.

To this end we present a range of articles—some of which contain quite challenging content—that cover copyright, crime fiction, the stage, the literary brand and film, horror and children’s film, television, military-inspired fashion, and a piece that focuses on events leading up to September 11, 2001. We then present three, quite different, works that explore various aspects of Australian Indigenous culture and history. 

We begin with our feature article: “‘They’re creepy and they’re kooky’ and They’re Copyrighted: How Copyright Is Used to Dampen the (Re-)Imagination”. In this work Steve Collins explores important issues of copyright in the re-imagining and re-purposing of content. In particular, this article unpacks—using examples from the United States—how copyright legislation can restrict the activities of creative practitioners, across varied fields, and so adds to the debate on copyright reform.

In our lead article “The Re-imagining Inherent in Crime Fiction Translation”, by Alistair Rolls, ideas of re-imagination, language, and the world’s most popular genre—crime fiction—are critically appraised. Rolls looks at a suite of issues around imagining original and re-imagining, through translation, crime fiction texts. These two forms of creativity are essential to the genre's development for, as Rolls notes, this type of fiction was born, “simultaneously in France and America but also in the translation zone between the two.”

Amy Antonio re-imagines the femme fatale. Antonio acknowledges the centrality of the femme fatale to the noir tradition and re-imagines this iconic figure by positioning her on the Renaissance stage, explaining how the historical factors that precipitated the emergence of the noir femme fatale in the years following World War II, similarly existed in the sixteenth century and, as a result, the femme fatale can be re-imagined in a series of Elizabethan and Jacobean plays.

The articles in this issue turn from fiction, to theatre, and then to film with Leonie Rutherford embarking on a “Re-imagining the Brand” exercise. Through two, very informative, case studies—Adventures of Tin Tin and Silver, Return to Treasure Island—Rutherford engages with issues of re-imagining classic literary texts as big-screen blockbusters. This article addresses some of the complexities associated with the updating “of classic texts [that] require interpretation and the negotiation of subtle changes in values that have occurred since the creation of the ‘original’.”

Erin Hawley also looks at film, through a lens of horror, in “Re-imagining the Horror Genre in Children’s Animated Film”. Hawley explores how animated films have always been an ambiguous space “in terms of age, pleasure, and viewership.” Hawley goes on to challenge common assumptions that “animation itself is often a signifier of safety, fun, nostalgia, and childishness; it is a means of addressing families and young audiences” and outlines how animation complements horror where, “the fantastic and transformative aspects of animation can be powerful tools for telling stories that are dark, surprising, or somehow subversive.”

Issues of the small screen, and social media, are reviewed by Karin van Es, Daniela van Geenen, and Thomas Boeschoten in their work of “Re-imagining Television Audience Research on Twitter”. In particular, this work highlights issues with how audience research is undertaken and argues for new ways forward that adapt to the changing viewing landscape: one that features social media as an increasingly important tool for people to engage with more traditional types of entertainment.

Fashion, too, features within this special issue with the work Emerald L. King and Denise N. Rall, “Re-imagining the Empire of Japan through Japanese Schoolboy Uniforms”. King and Rall present their research into the significant re-imagining of Japanese cultural and national identities, which are explored in this work through the cataclysmic impact of Western ideologies on Japanese cultural traditions.

The idea of re-imagining is challenged by Meg Stalcup through her article “What If? Re-imagined Scenarios and the Re-virtualisation of History” which looks at several events that took place in the lead up to September 11, 2001. Several of the men who would become 9/11 hijackers were stopped for minor traffic violations. Police officers in the United States replayed these incidents of contact, yet their questioning “what if?” asked not only if those moments could have revealed the plot of that traumatic day, but also places alternate scenarios into play. 

John C. Ryan, Danielle Brady, and Christopher Kueh guide us through a geographical re-imagining of one of Australia’s capital cities in “Where Fanny Balbuk Walked: Re-imagining Perth’s Wetlands through Digital Modelling”. This re-imagining of a major city’s natural environment calls “attention to past indiscretions while invigorating future possibilities.” Moreover, this work highlights the value of re-imagining a city anew as well as re-imagining the original after a process of considerable change.

Rachel Franks traces the history of an effort to communicate the concept of equality under the law, to the Indigenous peoples of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), in “A True Crime Tale: Re-imagining Governor Arthur’s Proclamation Board for the Tasmanian Aborigines”. This article provides an overview of some of the various re-imaginings of this Board—including the re-imagining of the Board’s history—and also offers a new re-imagination of this curious, colonial object; positing that the Board serves as an early “pamphlet” on justice and punishment.

Brooke Collins-Gearing, Vivien Cadungog, Sophie Camilleri, Erin Comensoli, Elissa Duncan, Leitesha Green, Adam Phillips, and Rebecca Stone take a very different, and rather creative, approach to re-imagining with “Listenin’ Up: Re-Imagining Ourselves through Stories of and from Country” a work that explores Western discourses of education; and looks at ways to engage with Aboriginal knowledge through the pedagogical and personal act of listening. These authors attempt to re-imagine “the institutionalised space of our classroom through a dialogic pedagogy.”

These articles are, necessarily, brief. Yet, each work does provide insight into various aspects of the re-imagining process while offering new perspectives on how re-imagining takes place—in material culture, learning practices, or in all important media re-interpretations of the world around us.

We extend our thanks to our contributors. We thank, too, all those who engaged in the blind peer review process. We sincerely appreciate the efforts of those who offered their expertise and their time as well as offering valuable comments on a wide range of contributions. 

Rachel Franks, Simon Dwyer, and Denise N. Rall


re-imagine; fiction, film, creative practice; television; fashion; history; Indigenous

Copyright (c) 2015 Rachel Franks, Simon Dwyer, Denise N. Rall

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

  • M/C - Media and Culture
  • Supported by QUT - Creative Industries
  • Copyright © M/C, 1998-2016
  • ISSN 1441-2616