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Call for ethical ideas as writers and readers gather in Byron Bay


Sharlene King
21 June 2011
Southern Cross University is proud to host the 2011 Australasian Association of Writing Programs conference, at Byron Bay, northern New South Wales, from November 23 – 25, 2011.

The location is a departure for the event, marking the first time it has been held in regional Australia.

The annual AAWP conference is considered the most important forum in the country for the discussion of all aspects of teaching creative and professional writing and for debating current theories on creativity and writing.

The theme of the 16th conference in Byron Bay is ‘Ethical Imaginations: Writing Worlds; ethical concerns and their implications in literature and writing’.

Conference organiser and Southern Cross University’s coordinator for the Associate Degree of Creative Writing, Dr Janie Conway-Herron, said the theme was an acknowledgement of her writing program’s strong focus on ethics.

“Texts are always based in some kind of ideology or cultural impetus,” said Dr Conway-Herron. “Texts aren’t just written in isolation. Texts have a context which is, in itself, quite often ethical. By questioning what truth is or what realism is, then ethics is part of that.

“For example, if somebody writes their life story and they’ve had a traumatic family life, how do they represent that? How does it happen? A lot of the work I do is with Burmese women refugees on the Thai Burma border, helping them give voice to their experiences. So that’s about speaking silences and how giving voice is advocacy for people who don’t have a voice normally.

“Indigenous writing is very important in all this, particularly in Australia given it’s a colonised country. How does the experience of the Indigenous person get written about and represented?”

The conference will explore the multitude of ways in which ethical considerations are intrinsically connected to the practices of writing and reading. An ethical engagement in literature from both a writer’s and a reader’s perspective has important resonances for the 21st century scholar.

Heading the list of featured speakers is award-winning writer, storyteller, educator, and human rights advocate Dr Arnold Zable. The others are: Melissa Lucashenko, an Australian author of mixed European and Murri (Aboriginal) heritage; Professor Andrew Melrose, Professor of Children's Writing at the University of Winchester; Professor Stephen Muecke, Professor of Writing at the University of New South Wales; and John Danalis, writer, illustrator and designer who will be in conversation with Louise Thurtell, publisher from the Arena imprint at Allen & Unwin.

Organisers are calling for papers along the themes of: point of view and ideology; authenticity and the author; the local and the global; reclaiming subjectivities; and writing the world wide web. A 500-word abstract submission is required by 27 June 2011.

Photo: Southern Cross University’s Dr Janie Conway Herron is organising the 2011 Australasian Association of Writing Programs conference in Byron Bay from November 23 – 25, 2011. Media opportunity: Dr Janie Conway-Herron is available for interview to discuss the conference, its theme and the call for papers. Submission of a 500-word abstract closes June 27, 2011.