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Centre for the Book
Events and Opportunities related to Books at the University of Otago

Sense of Wonder Continues at Dunedin Public Library

Exploring the topic of “Travelling in Time: Adventures in History and Portals to the Past,” the Continued Sense of Wonder group will gather on Wednesday evening, 13 March at 7pm on the 4th Floor of the City Library. Bring along an old favourite or a new discovery to share.

The event is free, but bookings are recommended: 474 3690 or
For more information contact

World Book Day Lecture and Dinner

The Centre for the Book is delighted to welcome Associate Professor Katherine Bode of the Australian National University to deliver the 2019 World Book Day Lecture.  The lecture will take place at 5:30 on Thursday, 7 March in Archway 2, followed by dinner at the Staff Club.  Those interested in attending the dinner should contact Donald Kerr to purchase a ticket.  The meal costs $43 incl GST, payable by cash or cheque, for a buffet dinner (menu) and great company.

Professor Bode is the author of A World of Fiction: Digital Collections and the Future of Literary History (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2018) and Reading by Numbers: Recalibrating the Literary Field (London: Anthem Press, 2012), She also created To be continued … The Australian Newspaper Fiction Database ( identifying over 21,000 works of fiction published in Australian newspapers.

Her topic for this year’s lecture is “Reading beyond the Book.”  She is a lively and engaging presenter who deeply loves her work and will convince you that you should too.  Do join us.


Postponed; New Date TBC (Talk about New Book on Truth in Media by Stephen Davis)

This talk has been postponed due to Stephen’s other commitments, but we hope to arrange an event later in 2019 to discuss this topical issue.

The Centre for the Book is delighted to host a provocative talk by investigative reporter, TV journalist and writer Stephen Davis at 5:30 pm on Thursday 4 April in Archway 1.   The talk is entitled Faking It:  Understanding the Modern World of Truth Prevention, Fake News and Conspiracy Theories, He will be speaking about his new book, Truthteller, to be published 2 April by Exisle PublishingThe book “is an essential guide to how governments and corporations cover up murder, corruption and catastrophe, for teachers, students and concerned citizens who want to know the facts, not fake news. Using exclusive documents and interviews from a career as an award-winning reporter, editor, foreign correspondent and television producer, Stephen Davis reveals shocking details of deceptions from Brazil to Antarctica, London to Los Angeles.”

Stephen Davis has been on the front lines of journalism for three decades as an investigative reporter in TV, magazines and newspapers and as a leading journalism educator, trying to uphold the ideals of the fourth estate, and to inspire his students to do the same.  Along the way he has encountered lying politicians and corporate con men, spies and special forces soldiers, secret policemen and scared scientists. Among those who have tried to dissuade him from reporting his stories: men with Kalashnikovs, government lawyers, corporate PRs in fancy suits, senior police officers, billionaires, and newspaper owners. Davis has worked for The Sunday Times in both London and Los Angeles, been a war and foreign correspondent, a TV producer for 60 Minutes and 20/20, a newspaper editor, a documentary film maker for the BBC and Discovery, and has taught journalism to thousands of students from all over the world. He has won multiple awards for his investigative reporting, including a silver medal at the New York film and television awards, and has designed and run journalism degree programs in London, Sydney and Melbourne.

We hope you can join us for a different slant on the issue of what print can do in the world.

Medical Marvels Exhibition, 14 Dec 2018–15 Mar 2019

In 1929, the historical collection of the University of Otago’s Health Sciences’ Library was established with the donation of the famed Monro Collection. The some 450 volumes in that collection were owned by Alexander Monro, father (primus), son (secundus), and grandson (tertius), who were successively Professors of Anatomy at the University of Edinburgh, 1720–1846. Wonderful though the Monro Collection is, it comprises but a fraction of the total Health Sciences Library’s Historical Collections, some 100,000 plus volumes. These include 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century books and manuscripts, as well as the unique Preventive Medicine Dissertations.

This exhibition, Medical Marvels, highlights treasures from this Historical Collection, from pharmacy and phrenology to dentistry and disease. Of particular note is the anatomical flap book by Johann Remmelin, printed in Holland in 1667; a second edition of Andreas Vesalius’s The Fabric of the Body, printed in 1555; and Bernhard Albinus’s Tables of the Skeleton and Muscles of the Human Body, printed in 1746. Other noteworthy items include works by Edward Jenner, John Hunter, Francis Glisson, Thomas Willis, and William Smellie. For those interested in the history of medicine, the exhibition is a feast.

Many of the books have been chosen by University of Otago academic staff, students and librarians, who have used the books for their own research. We are particularly indebted to Professor Terence Doyle, Department of Medicine, and Professor Barbara Brookes, History Department.

The exhibition opens at Special Collections, de Beer Gallery, first floor, Central University Library, on 14 December 2018. It runs to 15 March 2019.  It is open Monday to Friday, 9–5.

2018 Research Symposium—Translation and Transculturation, 1–2 November

The program is now finalised.  Thanks to all who submitted abstracts.  Donald and I really happy with the program and look forward to seeing lots of people at the Thursday night plenary lecture and the Friday panels.

As usual, there is no fee for this event, but we would welcome signals of intention to attend to help us with catering the afternoon tea.  Also note that our Thursday lecture is not at the Public Library this year (Shef was too late trying to book it, but thanks to the Library for being willing if the Dunningham Suite had been available).  Instead, we’ll be in the Moot Court room of the Richardson Building on campus.  It is a great room for acoustics and conversation, with nice views as well.

We hope you can join us for this excellent lineup of papers.  You can grab a copy of the program here.  To sign up, just go to our handy Google form.

Sir Walter Scott Talk next Thursday, 5:15 pm

Dr. Brian McMullin, a superb bibliographer and scholar of Scott, among other things, will be talking about his work on the textual history of Ivanhoe.  We think we know a lot about major authors like Scott, but the more we find out, the more complex the textual history becomes.  We may have probed about as far as we can with Shakespeare and Austen, but Scott and many other writers remain rich textual puzzles.

Please join us for roundtable discussion in Arts 1W1 at 5:15 on Thursday, 25 October.  Nibbles provided.

A Novel Way to Enjoy Fiction, Sundays 3–5 pm

The University Book Shop has created a Sunday reading space at the Captain Cook Hotel.  Please come along for some quiet reading, excellent company, and a nice atmosphere for a relaxing Sunday afternoon.  Full details in poster.

2018 Margaret Dalziel Lecture to be delivered by Prof Nicholas Roe

All are cordially invited to join the Department of English and Linguistics for its annual lecture in honour of Emerita Professor Margaret Dalziel.  This year’s lecture, “John Keats Walks Romantic Scotland, Summer 1818: An Illustrated Bicentenary Lecture,” is to be delivered by Prof. Nicholas Roe, the Wardlaw Professor of English Literature at the University of St Andrews.

We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday, 10 October, at 5:30 pm in Burns 2.

Beyond the Page–6:30 pm, Wednesday 14 November

Presented by the Continued Sense of Wonder team, this final session for 2018 brings together a select group of children’s publishers, literary agents and editors to reveal the hidden world of children’s publishing. Bring a question you need answered, and continue the adult conversation about children’s books.

Reception at 6.30pm for a 7pm start.  This event is free, but it is helpful for planning if you book by ringing 474 3690 or emailing  For more information contact

Rare Books Summer School, Wellington, 28 Jan—1 Feb 2019

Sydney Shep has lined up two intriguing offerings for the Wellington Rare Books Summer School this coming summer.  The first option focuses on ‘The World of Altered Books’ and engages with the physicality of printed books to create new meanings.  Taught by Paul Thompson, the class repurposes all kinds of print, both rare and unnoticed.  It promises to be an engaging exploration that takes advantage of Wellington’s rich local resources.

The second option is taught by a German expert with training in classics here at Otago,  Thomas Koentges will teach ‘Exploring Digital Humanities: A hands-on introduction to data-driven research’, an area that offers increasing insights for Book History (as well as many other humanist disciplines).

Descriptions of both offerings and details on how to obtain more information are listed in the attached PDF.