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Centre for the Book | He Rau Kupu
Events and Opportunities related to Books at the University of Otago

Fruits of the 2016 Symposium


The Centre for the Book is delighted to promote the latest Dunedin City of Literature production, a volume based on Roger Hickin’s 28 October 2016 Symposium presentation on the poetry of Peter Olds entitled “A Town Trod by Poets: The Search for Truth on Dunedin Streets’.

The City of Literature has put together Roger’s text with Peter Olds’s poetry, and his photographs of the graffiti that inspired him, into a handsome book, A Town Trod by Poets.

Congratulations to all, and here’s hoping one of the talks from this year’s symposium will also end up engaging future readers.


Ninth Annual Symposium Program

We are delighted to have been able to put together a lively program of speakers for our 20 November Symposium this year.  The wonders of technology will bring us three speakers from outside Dunedin and around the world, while those of us who are able will gather in Archway 1 for a rich day of talks.  Topics range from Anglo-Saxon poetry to NZ artists’ books, from Samuel Johnson to Henry Miller.

There is no fee to register, but we ask that you register so that we can make name badges and arrange catering for the afternoon tea.  Please note that there will be no morning tea, so please fortify yourself before we start at 9:30.  You can register here.

And if you have any other questions, please feel free to email either of the organisers: Shef Rogers or Donald Kerr.  We look forward to being able to explore all that books can achieve in relation to travel—a power that many of us are no doubt rediscovering in these troubled times.

Congratulations to UBS

The Centre for the Book was delighted to read about the double nominations for the University Book Shop at this year’s Westpac Otago Business Awards.  Selected as a finalist in both the retailer and Future Business Leader categories, the UBS received well-deserved recognition for its continued success.  Here’s hoping it picks up the top prize in both categories when the winners are announced on 13 November.

Australia-NZ Bibliographical Society Conference, 30 Nov–2 Dec

Following soon after our own Symposium, and featuring Otago’s Prof. Lachy Paterson as one of the keynotes, the BSANZ conference will be an online event of great interest to many of those who follow the Centre’s activities.  Registration is free and you are welcome to attend as many or as few of the papers as you wish.

You can tune in from anywhere in the world. The registration link is:
Please register as soon as possible, and feel free to share the registration link among your colleagues.

A Close Approximation to Normal–2020 Symposium CFP

The Centre for the Book is delighted to announce that we have been granted modest funding to enable us to hold the annual research symposium.  We will not attempt to fly-in a keynote this year, so the symposium will take place from 10–5 on Friday, 20 November.  This year’s theme is ‘Booking Travel’ and you can download the Call for Papers and tell all your friends.  We are able to accept pre-recorded presentations followed by live Q&A via Zoom, so please do not let distance keep you away.  We are still confirming ability to stream the event for those remote participants, but expect that this will be possible.

Latest NZCT Title Released

The NZ Colonial Text series is proud to announce Jim Sullivan’s edition of W. M. Southan’s 1881 novel, The Two Laywers.  Set mainly in TImaru, the novel is a Victorian goldfield melodrama that provides a lively sense of its place and time.  Jim’s extensive introduction also demonstrates that truth is definitely stranger than fiction, as he recounts the lives of a number novelists of the day.  The Timaru Herald has published a story on the edition, from which the image here is taken.

10 printed copies are available for purchase from the English and Linguistics programme at Otago for $30.  As soon as those are sold, a PDF version will be released via OURarchive for free.

Postponement of Dunedin Rare Book School

Although it may not come as a huge surprise to anyone, it is
nonetheless a disappointment to have to announce that the Dunedin Rare
Book School planned for 1–5 February 2021 has been deferred until late
January/early February 2022.  The consortia of other Australasian
schools (Melbourne, Sydney and Wellington) will all continue the
normal rotation from 2023 on.  I apologise for any inconvenience, and
hope you will be able to join us once travel is easier for everyone.

A Delightful Literary Guest Posting

Jane Austen’s House Museum,
Chawton, Hampshire.

The Centre for the Book is delighted to present for your reading pleasure “From Austen to the Brontёs: A Literary Tour of England,” by Margaux Warne.  Originally destined for The Listener, Margaux turned to us when Covid-19 forced a change of plans.

Margaux Warne is an independent Art Historian based in Christchurch. She studied Art History at the University of Canterbury and her research focuses on nineteenth-century art and literature. Two of her favourite nineteenth-century novels are Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

A Quiet Departure from his Formal Post

Donald Kerr officially retired from his position as Special Collections Librarian on the 8th of April, with all fanfare subdued by lockdown.  However, the Bulletin has provided a nice tribute acknowledging his numerous accomplishments during his 18 years on the job.

We look forward to Donald’s continued involvement as co-director of the Centre for the Book and other learned activities in Dunedin and wish him all the best as he forges ahead with even more time for research on book collectors, Henry Miller and his other wide range of interests.

And when conditions once more permit, there will be a proper farewell function as well.

Book History Podcasts

book iglooAlthough we cannot currently provide live events, The Centre for the Book is pleased to be able to at least offer pointers to online options for sustaining those craving a regular dose of book history to inoculate the mind.

Our first suggestion is the Canadian series, The Biblio File, presented by Nigel Beale.  Beale interviews scholars, publishers and librarians about the world of books.  You have to drill down a bit into his archives to see the full range, or you can search by keyword.  Either way, you are guaranteed to find some interesting and very bookish interviews.