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Please note: the conference is in BUILDING 2 on the UC Bruce campus. 
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DAILY FORECAST (care of Describing Things in Canberra):  

Wednesday Canberra weather: regardless of any thing Neil Finn may have said, you don’t really have your own personal weather bubble. You can easily test this by travelling from the Woden Valley to the northside on foggy morning. Or getting on a plane in December and flying to Helsinki.

So those of you who are in Canberra today will probably experience much the same weather as each other. Warm to hot and slighty sticky. The weather equivalent of spilling cocoa on your new trousers.

Chemical interventions such as deodorant, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and anti-histamines are strongly indicated. Consider long before you commit to opaque tights, however hairy your legs are. Once the sun is over the yard arm, applications of gin and tonic may be beneficial.



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Tuesday, November 29 • 2:30pm - 3:30pm
Crime and Punishment :: 2A4

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Rachel Franks: Stealing stories: punishment, profit and the Ordinary of Newgate

The mid-1700s witnessed, in England, the development of a standard format to tell the stories of malefactors. In this way storytelling was simple as tales of various criminals followed a strict pattern of crime, capture and punishment. The origins of this was seen most obviously in the formula relied upon by Samuel Smith in the preceding century. Samuel Smith was the Ordinary of Newgate, a position that would be referred to today as the prison chaplain, and throughout his tenure, from 1676 until 1698, he would publish Accounts of criminals and their grisly ends. These Accounts, of which there were over 400 editions – offering over 2,500 biographies of hanged men and women – published between 1676 and 1772, were incredibly popular. With a price point of only a few pence, print runs were in the thousands and by the early 1700s the Ordinary was earning up to £200 per year for his entrepreneurial efforts. This paper argues that these biographical, and ostensibly didactic, stories were stolen: as criminals were perpetrators of a crime they were also the victims of greed. The practice of this authorised theft of criminals, their lives and exploits, clearly established the fact that penitence and profit make comfortable bedfellows, ensuring that true crime writing became a firm feature of the business landscape. That victims and villains suffered was, of course, very regrettable but no horror was so terrible that anyone forgot there was money to be made.

Nicole Anae: ‘Meat-Axe’ Poetry as Homage

This scholarly presentation explores the story of a real-life Australian teen-killer: Matthew Stephen Milat. The eighteen-year-old wrote a series of poems in the aftermath of murdering his seventeen-year-old friend with a double-headed long-handled axe on the victim’s birthday, 20 November 2010. The presentation takes as its title the characterisation of those poems by contemporary media. What intrigued me about this case was not only the killer and his direct familial blood-ties to an Australian serial killer, but the transgressive nature of the teen’s poems as apparently anomalous forms of homage to an ancestral legacy originating with the most infamous Australian serial-killer in modern times: Ivan Robert Marko Milat (b. 1944). Resonances between Milat crimes—primarily its location and the familial connection between Ivan and Matthew Milat, together with the assumption by people outside the literary field that all poetry is confessional—inspired the conviction that the grand-nephew’s acts were in part paying homage (from Medieval Latin ‘hominaticum’) to those of his grand-uncle. ‘Homage’ seems a fitting term if ‘To pay homage to someone with a thing … is, to make an offering’ (Millot 2010, p. 71). The ‘thing’ Matthew Milat offered as homage was, apparently, not only a murder echoing salient features of his grand-uncle’s signature, but a series of poems seemingly memorialising as homage the legacy of the Milat family infamy.

Ross Watkins: All Apologies (novel excerpt)
Adrian Pomeroy teaches English at a Sydney all-boys school full of bullshit artists in blazers. One day Adrian is called into the principal’s office to be notified that student Aaban Halim has made allegations of sexual assault against him. Adrian was expecting this… As a police investigation ensues, Adrian is forced to confront his recent foolish actions, reviving the complexity of emotions stemming from his childhood experience of sibling sexual abuse. Told from the perspectives of the families affected by the allegations, the novel interrogates the sorry acts of sexual exploration against a backdrop of the contemporary Australian family.
      All Apologies embodies discussions regarding the impact of sibling sexual abuse on both victim and perpetrator, which has become more widely recognised and discussed in recent decades (Keane et al. 2013). While Peter Carey’s The Tax Inspector (1991) portrays the damage and destruction of intrafamilial child abuse to ‘show the ultimate corruption and downfall of an Australian family’ (Bode 1995), All Apologies shows the potential for both dysfunction and resilience, as well as the effect this trauma can reap on other children and their families.
      This novel excerpt will be read aloud, with accompanying screen projection.

Bode, Barbara 1995 ‘Angels and devils: child sexual abuse in Peter Carey's The Tax Inspector’, Antipodes, Vol. 9, No. 2 (December): 107-110. <http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.usc.edu.au:2048/documentSummary;dn=970100102;res=IELAPA> ISSN: 0893-5580. [cited 29 Jul 16]
Carey, Peter 1991 The Tax Inspector, London: Faber & Faber
Keane, Michael, Guest, Andrea and Padbury, Jo 2013 ‘A Balancing Act: A Family Perspective to Sibling Sexual Abuse’ Child Abuse Review, 22: 246–254. doi:10.1002/car.2284

Gay Lynch: Theft in Fiction as Cognitive Act

Most fiction-writers draw on experiences they share with others, at least to some extent, and many make little attempt to disguise the practice. Through imagination and for expedient reasons, they steal and transform them: to express themselves as creative agents and to analyse problems in cognitive mode and to bear witness.  Memory, a kind of recount, is mediated by perspective and is, therefore, fiction. 

This paper will consider how many writers, including me, feel compelled to write about others as a means of making cognitive sense of experiences that might be construed as traumatic. Virginia Woolf wrote to acknowledge pre-existing truths that she had repressed; Phillip Roth believed he was creating truths by explicating and enlarging, from multiple perspectives, relationship problems that troubled him.  Both saw truth as a kind of reality: Roth enlarged; Woolf distilled.

Fiction writing can accrue therapeutic effect for creator and subject but is not therapy. Fiction is art and, therefore, subject to rigorous construction. Positive and negative consequences can result, for subjects and creators but, primarily, this paper is concerned with literary truths brought about by higher order thinking. The imparting of moral value to art is fraught and subjective and it depends on writerly rigour. Asserting fiction writers’ right to write fiction in which they draw on experiences that also belongs to others will be examined through the lenses of agency, cognition and literary truth. 

avatar for Shane Strange

Shane Strange

Teaching Fellow, University of Canberra
Shane Strange is a doctoral candidate and Teaching Fellow in the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra and an HDR member of the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research (CCCR). He tutors and lectures in Writing and Literary Studies. He is a writer of short fiction and creative non-fiction who has been published widely in Australia.


Nicole Anae

Central Queensland University
Nicole Anae graduated from Charles Sturt University with a B.Ed and Dip.T before earning her PhD through the Faculty of English, Journalism and European Languages at the University of Tasmania. Her research interests include the English literatures, Shakespeare, theatre history, Australian colonial and postcolonial writing, embodiment and performance, and the interplay between literature, performance and identity. She is Senior Lecturer in... Read More →

Rachel Franks

University of Sydney, University of Newcastle, State Library of NSW
Rachel Franks is the Coordinator, Education & Scholarship, at the State Library of New South Wales, a Conjoint Fellow at the University of Newcastle, Australia and is at The University of Sydney researching true crime. Rachel holds a PhD in Australian crime fiction and her research in the fields of crime fiction, true crime, food studies and information science has been presented at numerous conferences. An award-winning writer, her work... Read More →

Gay Lynch

Honorary Fellow, Flinders University
Gay Lynch is an honorary research fellow in creative writing and English at Flinders University. She has published short stories, most recently in Griffith Review: Our Sporting Life: 53, 2016, Best Australian Stories 2015 and Sleepers Almanac: 10 (2015), Apocryphal and Literary Influences on Galway Diasporic History (2010) and Cleanskin (2006) a novel. She was Fiction and Life Writing editor... Read More →

Ross Watkins

University of the Sunshine Coast
Ross Watkins is an author and illustrator for both children and adults. His research primarily explores practices in illustrated narrative, representations of grief, and experimental writing modes such as fictocriticism.

Tuesday November 29, 2016 2:30pm - 3:30pm
2A4 Building 2, UC

Attendees (10)