The final Reading Allowed event for 2023 has been brought forward to November 29th. Come along to hear “The Night before Christmas” read by Lorraine Johnston and an excerpt from “The Go-Between” by L. P. Hartley read by Paul Tankard. The sessions are held at the Cube on the ground floor of the Central Dunedin Public Library.
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 Truth. NZ 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.
Next Wednesday is the second week of the month! So that mean the next session of Reading Allowed. 5.30pm at the Cube on the Ground Floor of the City.
This month we will hear The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning – read by Paul Tankard and an excerpt from A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute – read by Lorraine Johnston.
It will be lovely to see you there – come along for one or both readings. Event finishes (occasionally 😊) by 6.30pm. No RSVP required – just turn up for all or part. Cup of tea or coffee available to help you kick back and relax.
The following Wednesday – November 15th – sees the last Continued Sense of Wonder event for 2023 for adults who still enjoy reading books published for children or young adults – this time the event focuses on Science Fiction or Space Operas. Feel free to bring along books to share that don’t quite fit those genres, and for anyone to contribute they think defines a space opera. Books can be picture books, graphic novels, anything written for children or teens.
The Centre for the Book is pleased to welcome Professor Sarah Ross of Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington to speak on “Monumentum Regale: King Charles I in the John Emmerson Collection, State Library Victoria, Melbourne.” Her lecture will be held Wednesday, 11 October, at 5:30 pm in Archway 2, or online via Zoom (register your email here and we’ll send you the link on the day).
In 2015, State Library Victoria, Melbourne, received an extraordinary bequest of early modern books, over 5000 volumes amassed by John Emmerson, QC, during a lifetime of collecting. The third largest deposit of early modern books in the world (after those in the British and Bodleian libraries), the Emmerson collection centres on material relating to the execution of King Charles I in 1649, the defining moment of the English revolution. This presentation focuses on elegies for the king in the Emmerson collection, exploring the relationship between icon, body, and text; the figuration of poetry and the book as tombs for the king; the reassemblage of the king in Emmerson’s volumes; and Emmerson’s collecting practice as an inherently elegiac activity. The talk showcases images from the recently launched exhibition, Beyond the Book: A digital journey through the treasures of the Emmerson Collection: https://beyondthebook.slv.vic.gov.au/
Sarah C. E. Ross is Professor of English at Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington. She has published widely on seventeenth-century poetry, politics, women’s writing, and manuscript and print culture. Her most recent publications include Early Modern Women’s Complaint: Gender, Form, and Politics (2020), The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Women’s Writing in English, 1540-1700 (2022), and the digital exhibition, Beyond the Book (2023).
The tireless duo of Paul Tankard and Lorraine Johnston will be reading from two very engaging works next week: Lorraine will be reading from Patricia Grace’s classic kiwi novel Potiki (1987), and Paul will be reading a short story by Dorothy L. Sayers.
As Paul exhorts, “Spread the word — literature needs reading! And we need to read it! Books have voices that need to be herad! Help literature escape from the shrinking academy! Don’t leave reading to Chat GPT!”
Plus it’s fun. So do join the session if you are able.
Anyone interested in books and resistance is invited to join a webinar hosted by the Bibliographical Society of America on September 12, 2023 at 6:30 PM (EST) [10:30 AM on Wednesday 13 September NZ time] for a public lecture by Tara Bynum on Black Reading in Early America. You can register for the talk here (https://secure.lglforms.com/form_engine/s/9Sew6IXDy63wN8kE_tTeOw).
Here is Professor Bynum’s abstract for her lecture:
“In the early United States, a Black person committed an act of resistance simply by reading and writing. Yet we overlook that these activities also brought pleasure. Tara A. Bynum tells the compelling stories of four early American writers who expressed feeling good despite living while enslaved or only nominally free. The poet Phillis Wheatley delights in writing letters to a friend. Ministers John Marrant and James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw memorialize their love for God. David Walker’s pamphlets ask Black Americans to claim their victory over slavery. Together, their writings reflect the joyous, if messy, humanity inside each of them. This proof of a thriving interior self in pursuit of good feeling forces us to reckon with the fact that Black lives do matter.
A daring assertion of Black people’s humanity, Reading Pleasures reveals how four Black writers experienced positive feelings and analyzes the ways these emotions served creative, political, and racialized ends.
Tara A. Bynum is an Assistant Professor of English & African American Studies at the University of Iowa. She is the author of Reading Pleasures: Everyday Black Living in Early America.
Join the Theology Programme seminar on Friday, 25 August at 4.00pm in Burns 4 of the Arts Building as they welcome Dr. Donald Kerr speaking on “The Rev. William Arderne Shoults: His Life and Legacy.”
The Shoults Collection has been in Dunedin since 1893, firstly at Selwyn College and then at Special Collections, University of Otago. This collection of some 5600 books and manuscripts contains medieval manuscripts, incunables, books on ecclesiastical history and primitive church rites and rituals, philology, bibliography, science, travel, and Arabic and Persian texts. Very little is known about the collector the Rev. William Arderne Shoults (1839-1887). He did not come to New Zealand; his library arrived here through the visionary initiative of Samuel Nevill, first bishop of Dunedin. This talk will cover Shoults’s life at college (St. John’s, Cambridge), his work in ritualistic parishes of London, his association with the Rev. Joseph Leycester Lyne (1837–1908), the controversial, enthusiastic, revivalist known as ‘Father Ignatius’, and the Shoults Collection itself. The survival of the collection is remarkable as a fine example of what a nineteenth-century curate and book collector could achieve.
SMALL PRESS FEST
18–20 August 2023 at Evening Books/Yours, 43 Moray Place
Small Press Fest is bringing together small presses and independent publishers from across the motu to Ōtepoti for three days of celebrations, workshops, talks, readings, and panel discussions.
Katie Kerr from GLORIA (Tāmaki Makaurau), Brannavan Gnanalingam from Lawrence and Gibson (Pōneke), Dunedin Youth Writers (Ōtepoti), Sasha, Achille and Renae from 5ever Press (Pōneke), Chris Holdaway from Compound Press (Tāmaki Makaurau), Rosa, Sam and Flynn from Newzician Magazine (Ōtepoti, Ōtautahi), Jennifer and Aidan from Rat World Magazine (Tāmaki Makaurau), Gilbert from Point Design (Ōtepoti), Blue Oyster Project Space (Ōtepoti), Gabi Lardies an independent book designer & writer / editor (Tāmaki Makaurau), and Val and Clare from Left of the Equator (Pōneke).
See the full Programme here: Small Press Fest • Ōtepoti • 18-20 August 2023 (eveningbooks.nz)
The next session of Reading Allowed is NEXT Wednesday – August the 9th at the ground floor Cube area at 5.30pm
Come along to hear from a really old and funny story by Chaucer, “The Miller’s Tale,” and from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, read aloud by Dr. Paul Tankard and Lorraine Johnston.
The Centre for the Book is pleased to share the news about this year’s Margaret Dalziel lecture, “Laughter is From Mars: Science Fiction in the Anthropocene,” which will be delivered by Professor John Plotz of Brandeis University on Friday August 25, 4:30-6:00, Lecture Theatre 2 in the Arts/Robert Burns Building on the University of Otago campus. Further details may be found here: https://www.otago.ac.nz/news/events/otago0243129.html
The lecture is free and open to the public, so please feel free to share the details with anyone who might like to attend. There will be a livestream for those who are unable to be with us in person:
“Laughter is From Mars: Science Fiction in the Anthropocene”
This talk proposes that we have underestimated science fiction’s capacity to represent and critique science and the technological power it wields. When Joseph Conrad called H G Wells the “realist of the fantastic” he set surprisingly durable terms for understanding science fiction’s relationship to actuality. Scholars have argued since about whether the genre principally extrapolates from the present, or speculates on what other economic/political/cultural configurations might be possible. This talk, by contrast, traces the genre’s long tradition of mocking human self-centredness.
Recentring our understanding of SF on satire may offer a way to reframe Amitav Ghosh’s notion of “the peculiar forms of resistance that climate change presents” to “serious” fiction. For many decades, science fiction’s satiric thrust was Menippean, oriented chiefly against an exaggerated sense of humankind’s importance (do you think the world revolves around you?). But the nature of that satire has changed as writers struggled with the fact that humans truly had a world-altering and world-destroying capacity. In the 20th century, the human capacity to destroy the world (atomically, mainly) was satirised by Capek, Lem, Vonnegut, Le Guin and others. This lecture, after tracing that legacy, assesses SF’s newfound capacity to satirize humanity’s present destructive power principally by way of N K Jemisin’s The Fifth Season, set in a world where people control and create earthquakes with their minds.