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

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.

Exhibition: Te Takarangi – Celebrating Māori scholarship, mātauranga and academic excellence

Fans of the Centre for the Book will recall Jeanette Wikaira’s excellent talk about this project at last year’s symposium. Now we have the opportunity to see the results of her work and the work of two other Otago scholars, Jacinta Ruru and Angela Wanhalla, so don’t miss the chance to call into the Public Library before the end of the month to learn more about the history of Māori scholarship in print.

A joint collaboration between Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga and the Royal Society Te Apārangi, Te Takarangi provides a glimpse into the rich publishing history of Māori-led-non-fiction work, with a particular focus on the later years as the growing publication of Māori research has blossomed. It acknowledges the mātauranga and inspirational Māori voices that shape and inform our scholarly debate in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Te Takarangi is an acknowledgement and celebration of Māori-led scholarship and writing across time and genres. The collection of 150 non-fiction publications provides an overview of some of the most important Māori leaders, thinkers and authors of our time. From the first book published about the Māori language in 1815, to current Māori scholars, researchers and writers making their mark, Te Takarangi is something we can all celebrate.
Friday 2nd July – Saturday 31st July, 2021
Ground Floor, Dunedin City Library, Moray Place

Charlotte Grimshaw on her recent memoir

The Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival is bringing Charlotte Grimshaw to talk about her new memoir, The Mirror Book.  Full details available here.  The author will be interviewed by Phillippa Duffy, and given the controversial content of the memoir, it’s sure to be a lively discussion.  There can be few books that demonstrate more directly the powers of print, and hence of interest to the Centre for the Book.  Tickets required and will probably sell quickly, so don’t hesitate if you are interested.

An Elegant Opportunity–Wednesday, 30 June

The Otago Decorative and Fine Arts Society extends an invitation to all book lovers to join them for a talk (via Zoom) by a renowned English binder.  If you are not a member of the Society, guests are welcome for a $25 fee, with refreshments following the presentation.  Please RSVP to the Society’s Chairperson, Jenny Ross, if you wish to attend.
Dominic Riley is an internationally renowned bookbinder and teacher. He specialises in the restoration of antiquarian books and the creation of contemporary fine bindings.

He teaches bookbinding both in the UK and USA, and his prize-winning bindings are in collections worldwide, including the British Library. A Fellow of Designer Bookbinders and President of the Society of Bookbinders, in 2013 he won the prestigious Sir Paul Getty award in the International Bookbinding Competition, and his winning binding was acquired by the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

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”?


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