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Australasian Universities Languages & Literature Association Conference

We are joining forces with the Australasian Universities Languages & Literature Association (AULLA) and Australian Reception Network (ARN) to host an intriguing conference exploring and examining the ways in which texts (both literary and otherwise) are produced, exchanged, and received. Join us for Reception, Production, Exchange from 9 - 11 December 2019.

Acknowledgment of Country

We would like to pay our respects and acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which this conference will take place and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

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Keynote announcement

We are delighted to announce our keynote speakers, all leaders in their field, to discuss issues ranging from the importance of Aboriginal languages and storytelling in modern Australia, to the intersection of the digital humanities and literature; from the function of engaged pedagogy in English literature, to the place of postcolonial and Australian literature in our field. Join us for three days of fascinating and thought-provoking conversation.

Keynote speakers

Opening Plenary Speaker: Paul Sharrad

Fellow of the University of Wollongong

Paul worked in literary studies at UOW from 1987 until his retirement in 2014. In that time he helped promote postcolonial literary studies in Australia, serving as Secretary for the South Pacific Association for Commonwealth Language and Literature Studies and editing the journal new literatures review. His courses aimed to showcase the work of writers and critics in English from across the globe and alert students to the cultural politics of literary production and reception. He has monographs on Raja Rao, Albert Wendt, Postcolonial literary history, and now Thomas Keneally; his editing work includes a volume of The Oxford History of the Novel in English, an anthology of writing by Australians of Indian heritage, and ongoing work for The Year's Work in English Studies.

Anouk Lang

Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Digital Humanities,
University of Edinburgh

Dr Lang's work sits at the intersection of digital humanities and C20th/C21st literature, with a focus on modernism and postcolonial writing. She uses computational approaches to explore the development and dissemination of literary movements and ideas, and is particularly interested in how scholars in the humanities can contribute to the theoretical, methodological and ethical work being done in relation to machine learning by those in other disciplines. She has published on authors including Patrick White, Witi Ihimaera and Kate Grenville, and is the editor of the collection From Codex to Hypertext: Reading at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century (2012).

Keynote Address
Tuesday 10 December, 5:00pm, 67.104

From slash fiction to word embeddings: literary analysis and reception studies in the age of machine learning

If scholars of reception and literature share a desire to understand how texts do their work in the world, the proliferation of large digital archives which combine longform texts with evidence of readers’ responses, such as fanfiction archives, present us with a tantalising prospect, in addition to sometimes vertiginous technical challenges. Analytical approaches bundled under the heading of ‘distant reading’ have for some years been yielding insights both banal and provocative when applied to large textual corpora. However, as scholars including Ted Underwood and Andrew Goldstone have observed, there is an imperative to push this work in new directions, as it is becoming increasingly pressing for studies of contemporary culture to include a critique of the algorithmic transformations which structure, in often invisible ways, how readers encounter texts, and how texts circulate and come to signify in sociocultural contexts. In this paper, I offer some examples of what scholars of reading and literature might be able to learn from a particularly powerful form of algorithmic analysis, machine learning, which is currently exciting interest among scholars in digital literary studies. I will also consider what interpretive approaches informed by machine learning might mean for literary analysis more broadly, and what those with expertise on the subtleties of texts and language might be able to contribute to the task of critiquing computational approaches in a world of rapidly proliferating digital texts.

Dr Lang’s work sits at the intersection of digital humanities and C20th/C21st literature, with a focus on modernism and postcolonial writing. She uses computational approaches to explore the development and dissemination of literary movements and ideas, and is particularly interested in how scholars in the humanities can contribute to the theoretical, methodological and ethical work being done in relation to machine learning by those in other disciplines. She has published on authors including Patrick White, Witi Ihimaera and Kate Grenville, and is the editor of the collection From Codex to Hypertext: Reading at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century (2012).

Karen Lamb

Senior Lecturer in English Literature
Australian Catholic University

Dr Lamb's research interests include Australian literature, life writing, and the social context of authorship. She has worked across disciplines and across scholarly and popular contexts, with over twenty years of experience as a literary journalist and book reviewer, as well as in academic positions within Media and Communications and literary studies, at the University of Queensland, Monash, and the University of Melbourne, before joining ACU. She edited a book of Australian short stories and wrote the first critical book on Peter Carey (Genesis of Fame, 1992), and was the joint winner of the 2016 Prime Minister's Award for Non-fiction for her biography Thea Astley: Inventing Her Own Weather. She gave the Annual Lecture in Australian Literature at the University of Queensland in the same year.

Keynote Address
Monday 9 December, 5:00pm, 67.104

Transparent virtue: A tick-boxer’s guide to success and failure in literary and academic culture

The language of literary judgement and value changes over time. In the last decades, the governance practices of the ‘enterprise university’ have also further influenced the language that shapes how academics now teach skills of interpretation and practice within literary studies as much as it drives individual research choices and measurement of the academic value of that research. Biography is one form of literary research that challenges how scholarship is received in the literary and academic culture, sitting astride as often does, the worlds of academe and the broader readerships commercial publishers seek and often find. The sensitivities of authors to the reception of their creative works is an integral part of biography, making it a key tool of interpretation of an author’s critical reception over the course of their writing life. Biography itself is also more likely to be included in literary awards than other forms of literary scholarship, in some ways giving a further life to that reception. If a biography is publicly successful, what kind of success is this? How is biography valued in the culture? How does the academy value and support this form of writing?

Dr Lamb's research interests include Australian literature, life writing, and the social context of authorship. She has worked across disciplines and across scholarly and popular contexts, with over twenty years of experience as a literary journalist and book reviewer, as well as in academic positions within Media and Communications and literary studies, at the University of Queensland, Monash, and the University of Melbourne, before joining ACU. She edited a book of Australian short stories and wrote the first critical book on Peter Carey (Genesis of Fame, 1992), and was the joint winner of the 2016 Prime Minister's Award for Non-fiction for her biography Thea Astley: Inventing Her Own Weather. She gave the Annual Lecture in Australian Literature at the University of Queensland in the same year.

Tara June Winch

Tara June Winch is a Wiradjuri author. She grew up in Wollongong and is now based in France. Her first novel, Swallow the Air (2006)won numerous literary awards and saw her named a Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist. In 2008, Tara was mentored by Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka as part of the prestigious Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. Her most recent book is The Yield (2019), which, according to Ellen Van Neerven, 'shows us not only how to read Wiradjuri but also how to feel and speak and taste it; it decolonises the throat and tongue'.

Keynote Address
Wednesday 11 December, 9:30am, 67.104

‘Decolonising the Tongue’

Tara June Winch is a Wiradjuri author. She grew up in Wollongong and is now based in France. Her first novel, Swallow the Air (2006), won numerous literary awards and saw her named a Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist. In 2008, Tara was mentored by Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka as part of the prestigious Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. Her most recent book is The Yield (2019), which, according to Ellen Van Neerven, ‘shows us not only how to read Wiradjuri but also how to feel and speak and taste it; it decolonises the throat and tongue’.

Tom Sperlinger

Professor of English Literature and Engaged Pedagogy,
University of Bristol

Professor Sperlinger is Academic Lead for Engagement in Bristol’s new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, where he is involved in designing a new community learning space, the Story Exchange, and a space on campus where community partners will work with the university on research and teaching, the Bristol Rooms. He is the author of a book about his experience teaching literature at Al-Quds University in the West Bank, Romeo and Juliet in Palestine, as well as the co-author of the recent Who Are Universities For? which puts forward a bold new model for tertiary education. He is currently working on a memoir of his time designing and leading short courses on literature with Ideal, a community organization in Bristol which provided training from 2005 to 2018 to men and women experiencing a range of complex circumstances including those linked to long-term poverty, addiction issues and mental health challenges.

Keynote Address
Tuesday 10 December, 9:30am, 67.104

‘I was part of the story’: Pedagogy in/outside the academy

Whose voice is heard in higher education? How much of our own stories do we bring to texts, as we read them? And when does reading allow us to leave those stories behind? This lecture will explore these questions through reflections on pedagogy in two contexts: teaching literature at a university in occupied Palestine and a reading group discussing Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘Digging’ at IDEAL, a charity supporting adults who have experienced chaotic lives in Bristol in the UK. The lecture will thus reflect on wider questions about how higher education can be a meeting place for different kinds of expertise and experience.

Professor Sperlinger is Academic Lead for Engagement in Bristol’s new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, where he is involved in designing a new community learning space, the Story Exchange, and a space on campus where community partners will work with the university on research and teaching, the Bristol Rooms. He is the author of a book about his experience teaching literature at Al-Quds University in the West Bank, Romeo and Juliet in Palestine, as well as the co-author of the recent Who Are Universities For? which puts forward a bold new model for tertiary education. He is currently working on a memoir of his time designing and leading short courses on literature with IDEAL, a community organization in Bristol which provided training from 2005 to 2018 to men and women experiencing a range of complex circumstances including those linked to long-term poverty, addiction issues and mental health challenges.

Conference program

The hosts

AULLA logo AUSTRALASIAN UNIVERSITIES LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE ASSOCIATION (AULLA)
Australian reception network web logo AUSTRALIAN RECEPTION NETWORK
TAEM students in front of artwork cafe UOW'S SCHOOL OF THE ARTS, ENGLISH & MEDIA

How to get to University of Wollongong

Public transport

To catch the train to Wollongong, you will need to use an Opal Card. Full-price cards can be purchased at newsagents and convenience stores, but concession cards must be ordered online in advance.

It is also possible to buy single-use Opal Cards.


From Sydney
Wollongong is around 90 minutes by train from Central Station, Sydney. Trains usually leave hourly (more frequently in peak times), so it’s good to plan your trip.

Trains from Central to North Wollongong cost between $6 and $9 ($2.80 on Sundays!)

The Transport for NSW Trip Planner provides scheduled train times. Search for a journey from “Central” to “North Wollongong Station”.

North Wollongong Station, on the South Coast Line, is the closest station to the University.

A free shuttle bus (Route 9 or 9N) operates between North Wollongong Station and the Wollongong Campus.


From the Airport
Use the Transport for NSW Trip Planner, and search for a journey from “Domestic” or “International” to “North Wollongong Station”.

Trains from the airport to North Wollongong cost between $17 and $22.

Take the train from the International or Domestic terminal to Wolli Creek, and change to a Port Kembla, Dapto or Bomaderry train (South Coast Line). Alight at North Wollongong Station, then take the free shuttle bus (Route 9 or 9N).

 Alternatively, Leisure Coast Limousines offer an airport connection service. The journey takes around 85 mins.


Around Wollongong
Wollongong has a free bus (Routes 55A and 55C, also called ‘the green bus’) that runs a circuit through the city, linking Wollongong University to CBD and the beach. The hotels listed below are on (or very near) the bus route. You can take either direction (55A or 55C and you will arrive at Wollongong University (don’t panic if the bus moves onto the motorway – you will reach your destination! If you’re worried, ask the driver to tell you when you arrive).

The conference is at the main university campus, not the Innovations Campus, so don’t get off the bus there. 

The main campus is 15-20 minutes from Wollongong CBD, but allow 30 mins just in case.


By car
Wollongong is about 80km south of Sydney CBD. Follow the Princes Motorway (M1).

Where to stay in Wollongong

The following hotels are on or near the green bus route:

Novotel
2 Cliff Rd, Wollongong (on the beach)

Adina Apartment Hotel
19 Market St, Wollongong
The Adina offers 1 and 2 bedroom apartments

Sage Hotel
60 Harbour St, Wollongong

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