2023 ‘Books and Resistance’ Symposium Programme

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We often discuss books as repositories or shapers of culture, most often considering the ways such print is revered, studied or transmitted, without so often pausing to think about all the ways that print, frequently in more ephemeral forms, also objects, resists or reframes our perspectives.  We change that up this year: we have organised a great lineup of speakers for this year’s symposium—you can see the 2023 Symposium Programme here.  Come along to discover some more forceful and challenging uses of print.

Our keynote speaker on Thursday evening is Redmer Yska.  The title of his talk is “Flaming Youth and the Awful Truth: Adventures along the Inky Way,” drawing on two of his books, All Shook Up: the Flash Bodgie and the Rise of the New Zealand Teenager in the 1950s (Penguin, 1993) and NZ Truth: the Rise and Fall of the People’s Paper (Craig Potton, 2009). Both works explore topics around radical publishing, censorship, moral panics, the rise and role of the tabloid press.

Redmer Yska is an award-winning Wellington writer and historian. He began his career as a copy boy on NZ Truth, gaining a reporting job after writing a ‘shock/horror/probe’ story about Auckland punk rockers.  In the 1990s, he produced two books about NZ post-war youth culture: NZ Green: The Story of Marijuana in New Zealand and All Shook Up: The Flash Bodgie and the Rise of the NZ Teenager in the 1950s.  In 2001, Yska explored his identity as a Dutch New Zealander with An Errand of Mercy: Captain Jacob Eckhoff and the Loss of the Kakanui.

In 2004, Yska was commissioned to write a history of Wellington City: Wellington: Biography of a City. In 2008, he was awarded the National Library Research Fellowship to write a history of TruthNZ Books reviewer Spiro Zavos called the resulting work “the best book about journalists and journalism in New Zealand I have read.”

Yska was the major recipient of a NZ History Trust Fund Award in 2014, allowing him to write A Strange Beautiful Excitement: Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington 1888–1903. Reviewer Kirsty Gunn wrote: “Yska’s work is like a form of access to the engine-room of the writer’s imagination; a way into that particular world of the past which powered her art.”  In 2019, a grant from Creative NZ allowed him to write Katherine Mansfield’s Europe: Station to Station, published in 2023 by Otago University Press.

The symposium is free, and will be streamed for those who cannot make it to Dunedin.  We look forward to gathering for the public lecture on Thursday evening and the day of presentations on Friday, 16–17 November 2023.  We will provide morning and afternoon tea; please register using this simple Google form (https://forms.gle/d4EnQzYBz2hr89hr8) so that we know how many people to cater for and how to accommodate any dietary requirements.  We need to receive all registrations no later than 5 November (a memorable date) for the catering arrangements.

We hope you can join us to explore another aspect of the power of print, aided by some great speakers and our always lively audiences.

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