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

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.

Reading Allowed–Tomorrow, 9 February, 5:30 pm at Dunedin Public Library

@ THE CUBE — City Library (ground floor)
Come along to our inaugural monthly Reading Allowed event next Wednesday, 9 Feb. at 5.30pm and listen to our two wonderful volunteer readers.
Every month, we will present two or three c. 30-minute extracts from well-known literary works.  This month it’s
A Study in Scarlet (A Sherlock Holmes story, by Conan Doyle)
The Waste Land (great modernist poem, by T.S. Eliot)
Tell friends and family about this event as we would love to have a nice audience (socially distanced of course) for it. It is free (no need to RSVP) and should be fun.
Lorraine Johnston will read from A Study in Scarlet – find out how Watson met Sherlock Holmes. Paul Tankard from the University’s English Department has a passion for reading aloud. He will read from T. S. Eliot’s ground-breaking modernist poem, The Waste Land— this year is its centenary. It is a poem full of voices and is great to hear aloud.

Interesting Revised Publication for NZ Print History

Those interested in NZ print history may be delighted to learn that the Bible Society of NZ has issued a facsimile of the 1827 Pukapuka Karaipiture Tuatahi, the fifth book to be published in Māori and the first to translate portions of the Christian scriptures.  The new issue has been published with a facing-page modern Māori translation of the same texts.

The book is available to download for free, or you may order print copies.  For full details, see




Our Symposium Keynote

For those of you who were not able to join us last Thursday evening, you can now watch the keynote address here. Many thanks to Nicole Kearney for arranging this for us.

I have also posted a talk originally proposed for the symposium, but not specifcally related to natural history (though it does feature some marvellous animals in the watermarks). The talk is by Ian Christie-Miller, who has designed a very good system for photographing backlit watermarks and demonstrates in his talk the value of watermark information.

Thanks again to all who presented last Friday, esp. Rosi Crane for framing our day with clear connections to natural history publications in NZ, and to all who joined us online. I was relieved that the technology behaved for the most part, and am grateful for the support from the University lecture theatre technicians and eConferencing services. This was our largest symposium to date, thanks to online participation.

Final Programme for November Symposium on “Natural” History

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

Many thanks to all who submitted abstracts for the symposium.  We were not able to accommodate everyone, but we were excited by the high level of interest and pleased to welcome several participants from overseas who will join us by Zoom.  The selection of papers and speakers is given in our full programme.  The location of the symposium will be the St. David Lecture Theatre, across the Leith from the Clocktower building.  Even though we only anticipate a maximum crowd of about 70, social distancing arrangements mean that every other row is blocked off and only every third seat is usable, so we’ll be well separated.  Weather permitting, we’ll be able to circulate on the patio outside at tea breaks.  In any event, we can meet in person, but it will not be quite the same as past years.  And everything could still change if cases suddenly made their way south in the next 10 days.  We will advise everyone via email of any changes to plans.

Our keynote address will take place entirely via Zoom.  We look forward to hearing from Nicole Kearney and regret not being able to have her visit in person.

We will also be live-streaming the event for those who wish to join us from elsewhere or who are wary of groups in person.  We realise the NZ time zone is not ideal for everyone, especially Europeans.  We unfortunately do not have the resources to take a single recording of the event and reproduce individual presentations, and we don’t wish to break the day up into a string of separate Zoom meetings in the interest of sustaining conversations across the day.  So we do hope you can join us, at least for the talk or panel that most interests you.

Latest NZ Colonial Text available to order

The Centre for the Book and the English and Linguistics Programme is pleased to announce the publication of the latest title in the NZ Colonial Texts series.  This title, A Thousand Pities, was written by Ellen Taylor and published in London in 1901.  Now the novel is once again available, edited with an introduction by Kirsty Carpenter setting in the novel in its historical and social contexts.  An order form may be downloaded here, detailing payment options and contacts.

Happy reading!

Registration Now Open for November Symposium

The Centre for the Book welcomes registrations for the 2021 November Symposium on “Natural” History.  Whether you wish to attend in person or online, we ask that you sign up so that we can cater appropriately or be sure that you receive the Zoom links for the sessions.

Please click here to go to our very simple registration form.

We look forward to welcoming you and to learning more about the complicated and rich connections between print and the natural world.

A Very Sad Loss

People who read this blog will already be all too aware of the recent death of Prof. Lydia Wevers on September 4th.  One of the most generous and insightful and determined book historians any of us is ever likely to encounter.

To honour Prof. Wevers and to console ourselves, the Centre offers this link to some extracts from Lydia’s 2004 bibliomemoir, On Reading, reprinted in The Spinoff this week.

And thanks for Jackie McMillan for drawing these moving extracts to our attention.

Sense of Wonder Continues–Online!

Lockdown is a good time to learn to appreciate the great outdoors.  And once this lockdown finishes, the Dunedin Public Libraries will look forward to welcoming people back for a further ‘Continued Sense of Wonder’ session, this time devoted to an adult discussion of children’s books that bring to life the natural world through their stories and illustrations.

The discussion will take place online from 7:00-8:30 pm on Wednesday, 8 September.  All welcome, but bookings are essential to ensure you are sent the Zoom link.

Ed.: And congratulations to the DCC for creating the new role of Reading Promotion Coordinator, and to Jackie for her appointment in the role.

This Wednesday—Public Lecture on Jane Austen in the 19th Century

The Centre for the Book is delighted to be able to welcome back on of our most popular presenters, Prof. Janine Barchas from the University of Texas.  She will be delivering a public lecture entitled, “Two Copies, Two Prices, Two Readers: Victorian Books and Variable Pricing.” on Wednesday, 4 August at 5:30 pm in Archway 3.  We hope you can join us for this lively and heavily illustrated talk delving into the much discussed but rarely spotted “common reader”.

And for our fans farther away, you are welcome to join us via a live stream.  Please register here: Register.  You will be sent the Zoom link a few hours before the event is scheduled to start.


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