Dr Stephen Francis Turner


  • Senior Lecturer

Research | Current

  • Critical theory, especially colonial
  • 18th century literature
  • New Zealand studies
  • Writing studies

The majority of Stephen’s writing concerns processes of settlement in the historical context of New Zealand. More broadly, the three interrelated projects he is currently engaged in may each be understood in terms of the theme of encounter. These projects span the settlement of new countries, the living knowledges of indigenous peoples, and the function of the university, including the responsibility of teaching.

First Law and Second Settlement is a book which Stephen is currently revising for publication. Interrogating the claim of the Indigenous people of New Zealand to be tangata whenua, or people of the place, and therefore to possess tino rangatiratanga, or sovereignty in the Māori sense of the word, the book considers the prospect of New Zealand in the light of Māori law (tikanga) and the long Indigenous history of place. Within the terms of this long history the book unfolds sub-themes of second settlement: the make-over of history, so that second settlers can be at home in a place in which they have no history prior to their arrival; the problem of criticism of settlement, which can have no ‘proper’ place if it does not itself further the aims of settlement; the construction of a primordial wilderness in which new New Zealanders discover their very own ‘indigenous’ nature; and the 'inclusive exclusion' of compulsory nationalism, which subjects the difference of Maori to a more singular cultural identity for the nation's sake, which is the majoritarian basis of national law.

Correspondences: The Work of Barry Barclay is a second book-project that addresses seeing and being in terms of the work of this distinguished Māori film-maker, thinker and writer. Fourth or indigenous cinema expresses the deeply located sense of historical community and law of first people, making historical, political and aesthetic questions inseparable. The primitive ‘trust’ of long-established community constitutes first law; this trust is an idea of freedom and flourishing that articulates, extends and secures community. First law is not peculiar to indigenous people, but, in context, it nevertheless animates Fourth cinema. Relating to fourth worlds of history in and through film – strictly speaking, seeing the place anew through film – forges a different basis for historical community, or living together, in societies of second settlement. Such filmmaking reconstructs the public domain in view of long history, and establishes a new knowledge commons. The project is particularly concerned with rethinking knowledge as networks of intellectual and spiritual property. The deeper argument is that an Indigenous and local use of media is reshaping knowledge in terms of long-existing relations among people and place, creating a new form of knowledge – a living knowledge – in societies of second settlement.

Learning Teaching, finally, is a book-project that Stephen is writing with Sean Sturm which situates the practice of teaching writing at Auckland in the context of new work on critical literacy and writing studies. The project outlines a distinctive pedagogy of performance based on an expanded understanding of place-based literacy. Learning Teaching is particularly interested in how literacies – academic, cultural and digital – enable people to negotiate and reconstitute their immediate environment. The encounter with place provides material for the reconceived classroom, taken to be both an event and an experience. The place or site of research, in this case Auckland, is central to the project. A closed history, we argue, inhibits place-based learning and deforms institutions. More broadly, the project challenges the accessibility, transparency and democracy of new media and e-learning environments by dramatising locality.

Dr Stephen Turner's Research

Teaching | Current

ENGLISH 105 Writing Worlds

ENGLISH 121 Reading/Writing/Text

ENGLISH 257 Seeing Writing

ENGLISH 363 Seeing Writing

ENGLISH 364 Writing Technologies

ENGLISH 708 Geo-Theory

Postgraduate supervision

MA students

  • Sristi Bhattari, MA (thesis), "Reading Migrancy: Audre Lorde's Zami, Bharati Mukherjee's Jasmine and Jamaica Kincaid's Lucy", completed May, 2007.
  • Sparkle Gibbs, MA (thesis), "Contesting Models of Gaming", completed July, 2007.
  • Kevin Veale, MA (thesis), "Gaming and Narrative", completed December 2005.
  • Tim Neale, MA (thesis), "Life Beyond All Biography: Approaches to Postmemory Problems by Art Spiegleman, Jerzy Kosinski and Haruki Murakami", completed May 2006.

PhD students

  • Ruth Lysaght (February 2007- ), "A Comparative Study of Whakaata Maori (MTS) and Teilifis na Gaeilge (TG4) – National Broadcasting in a Minority Language", ongoing.
  • John Bevan-Smith (February 2004 - ), "New Zealand Identity and Historiography", ongoing.
  • Kathy Ooi (September 2005 - ), "Representations of Chinese in New Zealand Literature", ongoing.
  • Michelle Tupou (June 2004 - ), "Story-telling and Pacific Epistemologies", ongoing.

Dr Stephen Turner's Postgraduate Supervision


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Sturm, S. R., & Turner, S. F. (2014). Erratology and the Ill-Logic of the Seismotic University. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 46 (7), 808-818. 10.1080/00131857.2013.817941
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/22206
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Sean Sturm
  • Turner, S. (2011). Settler dreaming. Memory Connection, 1 (1), 114-126.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/15497
  • Sturm, S., & Turner, S. (2011). Built pedagogy: The University of Auckland Business School as Crystal Palace. Interstices, 12 (Unsettled Containers: Aspects of Interiority), 23-34.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/18636
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Sean Sturm
  • Sturm, S., & Turner, S. (2011). Knowledge waves: New Zealand as educational enterprise. Australian Journal of Communication, 38 (3), 153-177.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/22951
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Sean Sturm
  • Turner, S. (2010). The truth of waters. Reading room: a journal of art and culture, 4 (10), 112-123.
  • Turner, S. (2009). Reenacting Aotearoa New Zealand. In J. Lamb, V. Agnew (Eds.) Settler and Creole Reenactment (pp. 245-258). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/14320
  • Kavka, M., & Turner, S. (2008). This is not New Zealand: an exercise in the political economy of identity. In H. Margolis, S. Cubitt, B. King, T. Jutel (Eds.) Studying the event film: The Lord of the Rings (pp. 230-238). Manchester: Manchester University Press.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Misha Kavka
  • Turner, S. (2008). Compulsory nationalism. Moving Worlds: a journal for transcultural writings, 8 (2), 7-19.


Contact details

Primary location

Level 5, Room 538
New Zealand

Web links