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

2021 Centre for the Book Symposium, “Natural” History?—Call for Papers

Double-page plate following Dedication; “Museum room, including crocodile on the ceiling”.By: Ferrante Imperato 1599. Courtesy of the Smithsonian.

We are delighted to announce the dates and theme for the 2021 Centre for the Book Symposium.  All details and a partial list of possible topics are in this PDF.

We are especially pleased to be able to have the Manager of the Australian Biodiversity Heritage Library, Nicole Kearney, joining us for the public lecture on Thursday evening, 18 November.  We will then reconvene in Archway 2 on Friday the 19th of November, for a plenary lecture by Dr. Rosi Crane and a variety of stimulating panels created from the abundance of abstracts we anticipate in response to this call for papers.

Proposals for talks are due no later than 1 September, emailed to  We hope to have a programme ironed out within a fortnight of the deadline, and look forward to seeing lots of familiar faces and welcoming new ones.

Best Laid Plans …

Alas, the raffle had no takers.  Whether that was due to lack of visibility or the too-clever question (answer: William Cowper) is not clear, but the co-directors will now seek recipients more directly.  And we’ll hope to see lots of you at the Festival.

Everybody Loves a Raffle

And everybody loves the Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival.

As a sponsor for Catherine Chidgey’s talk about her new novel, Remote Sympathy, the Centre has two vouchers redeemable for one ticket each to a session at the Festival.  In keeping with our democratic ethos, we have decided to raffle them off.  To enter, just send your answer to the question below to  The names of all those submitting correct answers by 5 pm this Thursday, 15 April, will be entered into a draw and the winners announced on Friday.

Be in to win!

Who said, “Books are not seldom talismans and spells”?

Confirmation of Room for Thursday’s Lecture

We will be gathering in Burns 1 on Thursday, not Archway 2, due to Covid Level 2 social distancing requirements. Burns 1 can accommodate 67 socially distanced, so please don’t be the last to arrive, though we normally only anticipate c. 60-70 anyway, so I hope we’ll be just fine.

A few other Health and Safety reminders related to Level 2:

Please do not come along if you are feeling unwell;
Please consider wearing a face covering;
Please be sure to sign-in with the tracer app or using the sheets provided at the building entrances;
Feel free to avail yourself of hand sanitizer at the entrances;
Please be sure to allow 2m between you and the next person as you enter and leave the lecture theatre.

We are pleased to be able to hold this event in person, and hope you will feel confident of your safety in coming along.  If the country announces any changes to alert levels between now and Thursday evening, please check here for any updates.

World Book Day to Proceed; room to follow tomorrow morning

A quick posting to confirm that Juliet Blyth’s lecture and the dinner following will go ahead as planned. Thanks to all of you who have booked for the dinner. I can assure that the University is very hygiene conscious, and we will be well spaced. The lecture is being moved to a larger venue, with rooms holding about 4-5 times as many people as are allowed to use them under distancing rules. I am still waiting until tomorrow morning for final confirmation of a room, and will post it as soon as we know.

World Book Day Lecture Remote Access

If you would like to hear Juliet Blyth’s lecture on Thursday 4 March, but are unable to attend in person, we will be live streaming the talk.  The details below should enable you to join us from anywhere that has a good internet connection and a web browser other than Internet Explorer.

Of course, we’d love to see you in person, and there’s no way we can stream the dinner afterward, but if you are able to survive solely on food for the mind, then please feel free to join us remotely to celebrate World Book Day.

The URL for the event will be

  • We usually try to start the streaming at least 5 minutes before the event.
  • The live streaming works with most web browsers, but not Internet Explorer.
  • People can use our Test Stream at any time, to check in advance that they can receive University of Otago streaming.  The Test Stream is at

2021 World Book Day Lecture

The Centre for the Book is delighted to offer the annual World Book Day Lecture, this year on Thursday, 4 March, at 5:30 pm in Archway 2.

Our speaker this year is Juliet Blyth, the Chief Executive of Read NZ | Te Pou Muramura. The title of her talk is “Reading When You Can’t Be Bothered: Who Isn’t Reading and What Can Be Done about It.” Books are wonderful things in themselves, but they only truly come to life in the hands of a reader. We look forward to hearing from an enthusiastic reader and advocate for the importance of reading.

As usual, the talk will be followed immediately afterward by a buffet dinner at the Staff Club just across the way from the lecture theatre. Tickets are $50 and a cash bar is available. Payment may be made online or cash payments will be collected at the dinner, but you must book in advance so that we know how many to provide meals for. You can book online here, indicating the number of seats desired and any dietary restrictions. UBS and the English and Linguistics programme will offer raffles, and you will enjoy wonderfully bookish company. We do hope you can join us.

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.