Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

The Future of Writing 2013

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Public Symposium, Tuesday 24 September 2013

T1 Lecture Theatre, Building Y3A, Macquarie University

Symposium Convenor: Professor John Potts, Macquarie University
Symposium Information:  |  9850 2250
Register for the Symposium via e-mail RSVP to NB. Please include your name and organisation when registering.


About the Symposium

The Future of Writing 2013 is a public symposium, supported by Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, and hosted by the Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies at Macquarie University. Admission is free and open to the public. The symposium brings together writers, publishers, media academics and journalists to discuss the challenges and opportunities open to writers and publishers in the digital age. This is the second annual Future of Writing symposium. The focus this year is on various writing practices including digital and hybrid writing, memoir and autobiographical writing, and the use of social media in journalism.

The symposium comprises individual presentations and panel discussions, with questions and comments invited from the audience. The event will be held in the main lecture theatre of the Media Building (Y3A) at Macquarie University, which is on the train line so easily accessible by the public.



9.30: Opening of the Symposium, Associate Professor Mark Evans, Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

9.40: Future Writing Practices, Professor John Potts

10.00 - 12.00: Memoir and Autobiographical Writing

10.00 - 11.00: Alice Pung, Writing About Those Closest to You

How do you write true life stories about people you know and love, who are still around to read them? And how do you render a three-dimensional person into a character? This session explores what it is like to write about those closest to you.

Alice Pung is a Melbourne writer, teacher and lawyer, whose award-winning books have been taught at secondary and tertiary levels. Her non-fiction books include Unpolished Gem, Growing Up Asian in Australia, and Her Father's Daughter.

11.00 - 12.00: Geordie Williamson, The Memory Theatre

Recent decades have seen a collapse in the old demarcations between fiction and life-writing. The Memory Theatre will venture to trace, through the writings of VS Naipaul, Thomas Bernhard, WG Sebald and JM Coetzee, the implications of these emerging literary formations.

Geordie Williamson is chief literary critic of The Australian and a past winner of the Pascall Prize for critical writing. His first book, The Burning Library, a work of retrospective literary criticism, was published last year by Text, and he is currently working on his second, Kings of Rapa Nui, a group biography of Scottish merchants in South America. 

12.00 - 1.00: Lunch

1.00 - 3.00: Digital Writing

1.00 - 1.30: Chris Rodley, The Poetics of Search: Literature in the Age of Big Data

Many fields of human endeavour are being transformed in the much-heralded era of Big Data, and literature is no exception. A growing number of works of electronic literature and media art are utilising real-time online data to create dynamic, constantly updating texts. Data search and manipulation is emerging as an important locus of creativity for writers, offering the prospect of better understanding our networked world.

Chris Rodley is a writer for new and old media whose work is exploring the emerging frontiers for the literary in networked environments. Recently, his focus has been on storytelling with real-time data in a series of media art collaborations with artist Andrew Burrell. Past projects have included writing for web, television and live performance.

1.30 - 2.00: Christy Dena, I Still Use a Pen, Sometimes

Writing is a way of responding to the world - with ideas, tools and artforms. In this talk, Christy Dena shares the way her writing has changed: using mapping and database software, creating storyworlds for linear and non-linear expression, and scripts for actors and robots. 

Christy Dena is a writer-designer-director of playful stories, and Professor Adjunct at QUT. She has created a web audio adventure for the iPad, a street story for the phone, alternate reality games, a PhD on Transmedia Practice, and is currently working on an installation at The Cube, QUT for a Digital Writing Residency.

2.00 - 2.30: Kathryn Millard, Writing as Design

Digital technologies and mindsets draw attention to the design aspect of writing. This presentation explores how both pages and screens are being transformed. 

Kathryn Millard is a writer and multi-award winning filmmaker. She is Professor of Screen and Creative Arts at Macquarie University.

2.30 - 3.00: Panel Discussion

3.00 - 5.00:  Social Media, Journalism and Ethics

This panel will discuss how social media is changing the shape and scope of public debate and journalism. It will canvas the pros and cons of social media's impact on the public sphere and the ethical and legal issues raised by the rise of social media. The panelists will talk briefly about their own expertise, views on and experience with social media and journalism prior to an open discussion and Q and A. 


Misha Ketchell: Misha is the Managing Editor of The Conversation, an independent source of news and views sourced from the academic and research community. He most recently worked as a researcher and producer on ABC TV's Media Watch. Previously he was editor of Crikey and The Big Issue (Australia) and a reporter for The Age.

Peter Leonard:  Peter Leonard is a Partner at leading communications and media law firm Gilbert and Tobin and heads their Communications, Media and Data Protection practice . He is a contributing editor of a number of international journals. He writes extensively on communications policy content, data and privacy regulation in the Asia Pacific region. He is also a thoughtful commentator on the ethical and legal implications of the digital, social and online media era in relation to public debate and policy.

Margo Kingston: Margo Kingston is the co-publisher of No Fibs, a website which promotes citizen journalism as well as publishing content produced by professional journalists. No Fibs is promoted through Twitter. Margo Kingston has partnered with Macquarie University in a research project that will analyse the role social media plays, for better or worse, in election coverage and public debate. Margo is a well-known political journalist who has worked for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. She was the first mainstream journalist to use a blog, Webdiary, hosted by the Sydney Morning Herald, to bring citizen journalisms into the public discourse.

Catharine Lumby: Catharine is a Professor of Media at Macquarie University. In 2000, she set up the Media and Communications degree at Sydney University and later moved to UNSW to set up the Journalism and Media Research Centre. She was a print and television journalist for two decades working for the Sydney Morning Herald, The Bulletin and the ABC. Sometimes, late at night, she wonders whether she should care more about her Twitter trolls.