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Author Archives: Shef Rogers

A Special Edition of Catch-Up Book Club

Curious to hear about the famously ‘difficult’ novel Ulysses by James Joyce? Intrigued as to why it was so controversial? Heard rumours of a connection to Aotearoa?

Join us for a hybrid online & in-person special edition of the Catch-Up Book Club* on James Joyce’s Ulysses, a celebration of the centenary of its 1922 publication. We will be screening the RTE documentary 100 Years of Ulysses and following that with short talks from Joyce scholars Chris Ackerley (Otago) and Marco Sonzogni (VUW), and some lively discussion. Bring your questions.

When: 6.00pm – 8.00pm, Tuesday 23 August 2022
Where: IN PERSON in the Burns 2 Lecture Theatre, University of Otago, or

Everyone is welcome to attend this free event, and no RSVP required. Mask wearing for in-person guests is strongly encouraged.

Co-presented by the University Book Shop, the English and Linguistics Programme, and University Library Special Collections, in association with the Irish Embassy of Aotearoa New Zealand.

* The Catch-Up Book Club, presented by the University Book Shop and the English & Linguistics programme at the University of Otago, is an informal group that meets to discuss classics you’ve heard about, have always meant to read, by writers you might be curious about, or perhaps you really liked the costumes in the BBC miniseries… this is your chance to finally read that classic! Or just to come along and decide whether you actually *will* read it…


A Busy Week for Book Lovers

Following Hannah August’s talk on Wednesday evening this week, Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival presents a talk with Ruth Shaw.

In conversation with Majella Cullinane, author Ruth Shaw discusses her memoir, which weaves together stories of the characters who visit her bookshops, musings about her favourite books, and bittersweet stories from her full and varied life.

‘An extraordinary story…illegal gambling, pirates and numerous personal tragedies, all punctuated by warm stories from her bookshops and an ultimately resolved love story. It makes my life look pretty dull.’ – Shaun Bythell, author of The Diary of a Bookseller

Includes audience Q&A and book sales. Ruth will be available to sign books

5.30pm, Thursday 18 August 2022
Dunningham Suite, City Library
Tickets $15 / $20 (fees may apply)
Reserve tickets here

Hannah August Lecture Next Wednesday, 17 August at 5:30 pm in Archway 3

The Centre for the Book is very excited to welcome back an Otago graduate to talk about her latest book history work.  You can hear a taster of her talk in an interview with Lynn Freeman this Sunday’s episode (14 August) of Standing Room Only.

Dr. Hannah August is Senior Lecturer in English at Massey University in Palmerston North. Originally from Dunedin, she holds several degrees, including a PhD from King’s College London and an Honours degree in Classics from the University of Otago.

Please join us for Dr. August’s talk on

“How to read a play in Shakespeare’s England – tips from the archives”

Over the past few decades, “reconstructed” Shakespearean theatres such as Shakespeare’s Globe in London and the Pop-up Globe in Auckland have given us a sense of what it might have been like to attend a play in early modern England. But what about reading a play? In an era in which the novel as a genre hadn’t yet hit its stride, 16th– and 17th-century Englishmen and women with a penchant for literature sought out poetry and plays. But what were they hoping to get from reading drama, and how did they respond to the plays they read? In this public lecture, Dr Hannah August draws on archival research conducted for her book, Playbooks and their Readers in Early Modern England, in order to answer these questions.

Dunedin Rare Book School, 23–27 January 2023

Isabella Beeton, The Book of Household Management: Also Sanitary, Medical, and Legal Memoranda. London: Ward Lock, [1880]. Special Collections TX717 BD16 1880

I am delighted to announce that the Dunedin Rare Book School is back–with in-person classes.  There will be 3 options for 2023, with more details available on the School website at
The offerings are:
We will be adding advance reading lists to each course in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with any questions.  We are relieved to be able to return to hands-on instruction.  The website provides details on our covid policy, indicating that we will expect students to wear masks when indoors unless they have an exemption.  Weather permitting, we hope to hold our breaks outdoors, but Dunedin summers are never entirely predictable.

Reading Allowed–Wednesday, 6 July, Dunedin Public Libraries, Ground Floor

The next session of Reading Allowed will take place on Wednesday, 6 July, with Assoc. Prof. Paul Tankard reading from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Lorraine Johnston reading from Jane Mander’s Story of a NZ River. Pop in from 5.30pm and rediscover the joy of being read to.

Centre for the Book 2022 Symposium–Books and the Pacific

The library of the Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (

The call for papers is now active for this year’s research symposium.  Topics might include:

    • Trade and production of print in each nation;
      Literacy among peoples indigenous and colonial;
      Print and control;
      Print and indigenous art;
      Books imported, donated, discarded;
      How books and print shape, define or disrupt our sense of place;
      Role of books and print in shaping, defining or sustaining diaspora communities;
      Books and print and evangelism in the Pacific;
      Books and print and food in the Pacific;
      Books and print and scientific exchange in the Pacific;
      Impacts of literacy, intentional or unintentional

Please submit abstracts of 250–300 words to the Centre for the Book ( by 1 September. Feel free to contact either of the organisers, Shef Rogers ( or Donald Kerr (, if you have any questions. We aim to send out notifications about acceptances and a draft programme by mid-September.

Reading Allowed–Wednesday, 11 May, Dunedin Public Libraries, Ground Floor

The next session of Reading Allowed will take place on Wednesday, 11 May, with Assoc. Prof. Paul Tankard reading from Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne, and Lorraine Johnston reading from Picnic at Hanging Rock  by Joan Lindsay. Pop in from 5.30pm and rediscover the joy of being read to.

Ground floor, Dunedin City Library.

Next Reading Allowed—Wednesday 13 April 5:30 pm

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - WikipediaSame readers, new books!

The next session of Reading Allowed will take place on Wednesday, 13 April, with Assoc. Prof. Paul Tankard reading from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, and Lorraine Johnston reading from The Matriarch  by Witi Ihimaera. Pop in from 5.30pm and rediscover the joy of being read to.

Ground floor, Dunedin City Library.

Next Reading Allowed—Wednesday 9 March 5:30 pm

The next session of Reading Allowed is on Wednesday, 9th March, with Dr Paul Tankard reading from Gulliver’s Travels and Lorraine Johnston reading from To Kill a Mockingbird. Pop in from 5.30pm and rediscover the joy of being read to. Ground floor, Dunedin City Library.

World Book Day Lecture and Dinner Postponed

To all of our loyal Centre for the Book fans, we are sorry to have to report that Covid is yet again complicating life for all of us.  We’ve agreed to postpone the World Book Lecture until Wednesday, 19 October, in hopes that all will be well enough for us to gather and enjoy the intellectual stimulation of hearing Professor Harry Ricketts on what books have meant in his life, followed by the social stimulation of a convivial dinner at the Staff Club.

So please stay tuned for updates later in the year, and keep on reading.


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