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

2017 Centre for the Book/UNESCO Extravaganza–“Books and Users”

The University of Otago Centre for the Book is pleased to announce our sixth annual research symposium. In 2017, we are teaming up with Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature to offer a 3-day extravaganza engagement with books and culture.

Download the full Call for Papers.

The Centre for the Book Symposium will start on Tuesday evening, November 28th, with our usual public lecture at the Dunedin City Library. The lecture will feature Warwick Jordan, proprietor of Hard to Find Books, talking about his wide experience as a bookseller and the variety of book users that he supplies.

The symposium proper will take place on the University campus all day Wednesday, November 29th, at the College of Education and will feature a slate of presentations on the theme “Books and Users.”

The two-day UNESCO Creative Cities symposium will follow, with international and local keynote speakers on Thursday November 30th, followed on Friday by facilitated workshops at the Dunedin Athenaeum in the Octagon.

Please note: Thanks to generous support from the University of Otago Centre for the Book, the NZ National Commission for UNESCO and the Dunedin City Council, both of these events will be free to attend, with delegates responsible for providing their own lunch. Delegates are welcome to register for specific days or all three days.

Thanks to Book Night Readers

As you can see from the photograph, we had a jolly gathering on Wednesday to listen to readings about the academic world, ranging from Old English verse to Coetzee’s Foe.  Thanks to all who turned out, and to the University for making it possible for us to use the Council Chamber.  The Rev. Burns probably did not approve of the recitation of Baxter’s “Ode on Mixed Flatting,” but his picture remained stolidly hanging at the end of the chamber above us, and the mix was great.


The University Book Shop has created monthly discussions by Otago University staff about current books.  The first two have been announced and both look very engaging.

First up is Law Professor Mark Henaghan, on Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari, which is about the future of humanity.  Mark will be speaking on Tuesday, 16 May at 7 pm.

Doors open at 6.30pm for refreshments, mingling or book browsing.
Spaces are limited to about 30, so register now.  It is not necessary to read the book featured. You are still welcome to come and listen and chat about the topic.

To register:

On Wednesday 21 June the guest of honour will be Dr Elaine Webster, who will discuss fashion and books on fashion.  Dr Webster’s book choices are A Guide to Elegance by Genevieve Antonine Dariaux and Sex and Suits: the Evolution of Modern Dress by Anne Hollander.

Register your interest for the June evening.

Book Night in Dunedin North, Tuesday 23 May, 7 pm

For those of you not in the loop, Book Night is an evening to celebrate the enjoyment of books.  Book Night is a fun nationwide reading event for people of all ages, run by Book Discussion Scheme.  Individuals can join in from home, the office, wherever…or come together to participate in an activity.  This year Book Night takes place on Tuesday, 23 May, and we are planning to gather in the University of Otago Council Chamber (formerly the University’s library, and thus a very suitable venue) to enjoy readings from our favourite representation of University life–satiric or nostalgic, ancient or modern, prose or verse.  All are welcome; just bring along your favourite passage of up to 5 minutes in length, or just bring along your favourite friend to listen with you.  We’ll conclude by 8pm at the latest, snap a picture of ourselves and post it to the Book Night website.

To see what’s happening throughout NZ, check out the Book Night website.

Shef Rogers: A Double Dose; or, More than Enough

Dr. Shef Rogers, co-director of the Centre for the Book, will present two 20-min conference papers back-to-back as part of English and Linguistics Departmental research seminar series.  The presentation will take place at 4 pm on Friday, 28 April, in Burns 4.

The first paper focuses on the textual history of Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock within the context of Pope’s coming of age and coming to grips with the realities of his physical handicaps.  Entitled “Profound Learning or Puerile Puns? Pope’s Use of Petronius via Rochester,” the talk examines an allusion to Rochester not previously noted by Pope scholars.  The implicit parallels between Pope and Petronius’s Encolpius further illuminate the highly sexual nature of Pope’s best-known poem.

The second paper also concerns Pope and his contemporaries, looking at how they used mock-scholarly indexes to satirise an increasingly professionalised world of scholarship and academia.  Entitled “The Satiric Literary Index as a Measure of Cultural Authority,” this talk considers satiric indexes from William King’s 1698 ‘index’ to Charles Boyle’s second edition of Dr. Bentley’s Dissertations … Examin’d through Alexander Pope’s Dunciad in Four Books (1743).  These experiments with form and arrangement show authors striving to enrich their satire even as they objected to the reduction of literature to taxonomic analysis.

Postponed for some time–Richard Overell on The John Emmerson Collection

Photo by Teagan Glenane

We regret that due to a family bereavement, Richard Overell will not be able to deliver his talk as scheduled, but we hope to hear from him on this topic next time he is in Dunedin.

Join us on Wednesday 26 April at 5:30 in Archway 2 for an engaging illustrated public lecture on

The John Emmerson Collection at the State Library of Victoria

Nicolas Barker, editor of The Book Collector, described the late John Emmerson as ‘one of the great book collectors of our time’. In 2015, the John Emmerson collection, comprising over 5,000 books and pamphlets on 17th-century English literature and history, was donated to the State Library of Victoria. This session will look at some of the highlights from the Emmerson Collection.

Richard Overell was until the end of 2014 the Rare Books Librarian at Monash University Library. He now works at State Library Victoria helping to catalogue the John Emmerson Collection.

Current Exhibition: Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation

Recently opened in honour of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses, the current exhibition at the University of Otago Special Collections runs through to 9 June 2017.  The display provides good historical insights into the events and significance of the reformation, while also allowing the Library to show off some very attractive items.  The exhibition includes Hartmann Schedel’s famed Nuremberg Chronicle, printed in 1493; a late 15th century medieval Book of Hours; a sheet of the German Bible, printed in 1483, an early guidebook to Rome (1515), and most notably, a rare Latin Bible (1481) that contains fragments of indulgences printed by William Caxton, England’s first printer. Luther’s own work features, including his Deuteronomy (1525), his Works (1550), and a facsimile of his Bible, Die Propheten Alle Deutsch [1534]. Works by Johannes Cochlaeus, Erasmus, and Philip Melancthon, Luther’s friend and colleague, also feature. Also on display are colourful facsimile leaflets (flugblatt) from the period. They include Weiditz’s ‘Käsebauer und Käsefrau’ [Cheesemaker and his wife] (1521) and Erhard Schön’s ‘Der Teufel mit der Sackpfeife’ [The Devil playing the Bagpipe], 1535.

TV 39’s story on the Exhibition–

City of Literature Comes to the Screen

Luke Chapman has done a lovely job of capturing the story of how Dunedin became a City of Literature.  These two segments not only reveal the wide range of people engaged with City of Literature, but also show how the idea has further enriched Dunedin’s sense of community.  Many thanks to Luke for these segments of viewing pleasure.

Dunedin – A City of Literature – In the Beginning

Dunedin – A City of Literature – Potential

Jim Sullivan on the History of Dunedin Bookshops

We all know Dunedin is a bookish place, but we may not be as aware of the various elements of infrastructure that create that atmosphere.

We are delighted to be able to host a public lecture by Jim Sullivan, extensively published historian and much loved as the host of Radio NZ’s Sounds Historical.  Jim will present an illustrated lecture on the history of Dunedin bookshops that will help us all to understand and appreciate one of the distinctive elements of our fair city.

Please join us on Wednesday, 3 May, in Archway 2, for what promises to be a very engaging and enjoyable talk.


Bioethics Seminar on Anatomy Books

Dr Katherine H. Hall, Senior Lecturer, Department of General Practice and Rural Health, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, will speak on

Images of Anatomy:
Reflections on a Mirror

Monday 13th March 2017 1:00-2:00 pm, Bioethics Seminar Room, Level one, 71 Frederick Street (entry on Frederick Street)

Anatomical atlases have been used for centuries; they used to be called a catoptrum microcosmicum – a mirror into a small world. Three anatomical atlases separated by 400 years will be presented, arguing each reflects not only the times and culture in which they were produced but also the values that the then contemporary medical culture wishes the student to uphold. This acquisition of values endorsed by medicine and the acculturalisation of students can be unconscious and ‘invisible’ to both. Consequences for the ethics of the teaching and learning of contemporary anatomy will be discussed.