A new Australian Studies website with a special focus on international Australian Studies and Australian Studies in Asia http://www.globalausstudy.org has been established through the Australian Studies Centre, Thammasat Institute for Study of International Cooperation, Thammasat University, Thailand. It has been established as an information hub to foster deeper collaboration and to create a deep pool of resources on Australian Studies. The main objective is to provide a free space for publicize activities and publications of Australian Studies Centres and Centres for Australian Studies and to direct the website visitors to your websites for further details. The main function of the Global Australian Study Website is to serve as a portal to the original websites which will ultimately link us all together in terms of new and activity sharing.

For more information, please contact Joy Thanyawee Chuanchuen, Assistant to the Director, The Australian Studies Centre, Thammasat Institute for Study of International Cooperation, Thammasat University, Thailandon:

11-12 September 2014, Renmin University, Beijing.

‘The Big Picture: Lives, Landscapes, Homelands in Australian and Chinese Art’ is designed to stimulate discussion in a field that has become increasingly important to both Australia and China, but which has not received the kind of attention it deserves within the broader Australian Studies community in China The conference will address artistic practices and exchanges, the role and function of the cultural industries and changing perceptions of identity, place and belonging.

We see this more as a ‘festival of ideas’ generated by a diverse group of speakers than a conference by and for academic specialists. Our audience will also be a diverse one and we hope that you will be able to join us at Renmin University, 11 – 12 September 2014 Attendance will be free, registration required. For a full list of the conference speakers please see below.  More details, including full conference program will be released shortly.

The Big Picture conference is open to the public and free to attend, with registration. Registration is now open. Those wishing to attend are required to RSVP by email to Joanna Bayndrian: joanna@creative-asia.net  by September 1, 2014. For more information, please see the website:

Long-time ASAL members and enthusiasts of Australian Literature will be sad to learn that Dr. Robert Sellick – “Rob” or “Bob” to his friends – passed away in the early hours of 24 July 2014. He had been ill for some time and was living nearby his sister and her family in Dora Creek.

Rob was present at the first ASAL conference at Monash University in 1978 and served as the South Australian Representative on the Executive of the association for some years after that. With his then colleague Russell McDougall he helped found the Adelaide Centre for Australian Studies (ACAS), later the Centre for Australian Studies at the University of Adelaide (CASUA), which led to the foundation of the multi-campus network South Australian Centre for Australian Studies (SACAS) in 1992. While he was not a prolific publisher – the AustLit database lists 27 publications, on a wide range of topics (prose, poetry and drama) –he was a wonderful teacher, mentor, colleague and friend. Among his friends he counted a number of his favourite authors, including Gwen Harwood and Shirley Hazzard, on whom he also published. He was a great entertainer, a generous host and a fine cook; and many visiting writers and academics wined and dined at his home in Adelaide and toured the vineyards in his company.

Rob’s first academic appointment was as a tutor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Adelaide in 1970, while completing his PhD, the first serious study of Australian explorer literature. The fact that Australian explorer literature is now a meaningful object of literary study owes a great deal to its first explorer, who stands at the head of a line of now very distinguished scholars including Robert Dixon, Ross Gibson and Paul Carter. Rob’s thesis supervisor, Brian Robinson Elliott, had been one of the founding fathers of university studies in Australian Literature. Rob was appointed to a permanent appointment as Lecturer in Australian Literature in 1974, succeeding Elliott upon his retirement the following year.

Rob always fancied himself as a contender for the Frank Moorhouse Perpetual Ballroom Dancing trophy. It took him seven years to win, partnered by his dear friend from the University of Aarhus (Denmark), Anna Rutherford, an Australian revered in Europe for her energetic promotion of Australian and other postcolonial literatures. The stakes were high. Anna insisted that Rob hire a dress suit for the occasion; and he pinned a twenty-dollar note to the back of her dress as an enticement to the judges, one of whom raced onto the floor and took it!

Before his academic career, Rob was first employed at the University of Adelaide in an administrative role in the Office of the Registrar. Later he served as Head of the Department of English Language and Literature, as Dean of the Faculty of Arts (1990-1994) and, in that capacity, as the Head of French and German also. Phil Butterss, who arrived in the Department at the beginning of Rob’s term as Dean, and who effectively replaced him as a lecturer in Australian Literature, has provided the following statement: “Today [Rob] is remembered fondly by his colleagues in English “as a warm and generous man — too kind for the modern university, really. He was always cultured, gracious and delightful company. He was a great teacher of Australian literature—his legendary Honours course on ‘The Centre and the Australian Imagination’ is still spoken of.”

At the time of his retirement Rob was working on a biography of the German explorer, Ludwig Leichhardt. He had begun translating Leichhardt’s diaries, ably assisted by his good friend, Dr Marie Louise Matilde (Marlis) Thiersch, co-founder with Philip Parsons of the Australasian Drama Studies Association (1977). Rob shared their interest in theatre, and was friends with Parsons and his wife, Katherine Brisbane, who together founded the specialist performing arts publisher, Currency Press. At one time Rob even appeared on stage in a university production of Patrick White’s The Season at Sarsaparilla in Adelaide (26 October 1976). Marliss’s death in 1992, combined with Rob’s duties as Dean, interrupted his work on Leichardt. After his retirement, he moved to Sydney, in part to be closer to the Leichhardt material in the Mitchell Library. But his research was again delayed by his appointment as lecturer and crewmember on a series of nautical adventures around the South Pacific with a luxury small-ship cruise line. Unfortunately, his biography of Leichhardt remained unfinished at the time of his death. But there are plans to deposit his many research notes and papers on the subject, as well as his translations with Marlis Thiersch, in the Mitchell Library.

From the Burke and Wills “dig tree” to the celebrated Bong Tree of the Edward Lear’s Dong with the Luminous Nose, Rob loved to travel. He is remembered all over Europe by friends and colleagues for his energetic and dedicated promotion and teaching of Australian Literature (especially in Denmark and Belgium, where he spent prolonged periods of time lecturing). His last published work, in a festschrift for Professor Helen Tiffin, was on Edward Lear’s birds. Rob was funny, occasionally grumpy, sometimes stubborn, but also wonderfully generous, courteous and faithful –a very good friend – to his subject, to his colleagues and his comrades.

Rob supervised my Masters thesis on Xavier Herbert; and later we taught Australian Literature together at Adelaide. This was a wonderful and memorable experience, for which I am truly grateful. At that time, our colleagues Robin Eaden and George Turner were working with Frances Devlin-Glass and Louis Hoffmann on The annotated Such is Life: being certain extracts from the diary of Tom Collins by Joseph Furphy (published by OUP in 1991). We spent many enjoyable lunch hours laughing and learning together. The title of Furphy’s novel quotes the alleged last words spoken by Ned Kelly. But it is the opening sentence of this wonderfully tall tale of a nomadic life – not unlike Rob Sellick’s in many ways: full of good humour, mischief, lightly-worn learning and self-deprecating irony – that I close with in dedication to his memory: “Unemployed at last!”

Professor Russell McDougall, School of Arts, University of New England

Saturday 23 August, 2 – 3.15pm, Metcalfe Auditorium, State Library of NSW

Sometimes we forget about the great when revelling in the new.  In its annual Honouring Australian Writers series, the NSW Writers’ Centre addresses this by paying tribute to writers who have made an important contribution to our literary culture.

On the tenth anniversary of her death, we revisit or perhaps discover the works of Thea Astley, the only writer to have won the Miles Franklin four times. A woman of sharp wit and deep humanity, Astley draws our eye back to that from which we may wish to turn away. She often wrote of the lush Queensland landscape but she grappled with those issues beneath the surface: cruelty and injustice towards Aborigines, women, and the marginalised.

Editor, critic and longtime friend Mark MacLeod joins author Debra Adelaide (The Household Guide to Dying), literary critic Susan Sheridan, and author Felicity Castagna (Small Indiscretions) to celebrate Thea Astley and her work.

Tickets can be booked via the State Library website: 

23-26 July 2015, Australian Catholic University, Sydney.

The Grounding the Sacred conference invites papers and presentations from artists, writers, musicians, academics and religious who are interested in the interplay between the arts and the sacred. The conference asks how literature and the arts can make the sacred tangible: do they enable us to touch the sacred? Do they offer a way of structuring our experiences of the sacred? Do they provide a common ground for people of different faiths – or none – to explore the ineffable? And where does creativity sit in relation to religion and the search for meaning? Are a sense of the sacred and the means to express it essential for human flourishing?

Abstracts of 250 words are invited for 20 minute papers and presentations that address the conference theme. They may be from creators talking about their work as it expresses the sacred; from researchers seeking to explain the relationship between creativity, religion and well-being; and from interpreters bringing to light the sacred dimensions of pre-existing creative works. Submissions should include the author’s name, affiliation, email address, title of abstract, body of abstract, and a short biography. Potential presenters who wish to have their work considered for inclusion in a special Australian issue of Literature and Theology should forward full papers.

Abstracts should be sent to Elaine Lindsay at slaconference@acu.edu.au by 27 February 2015. Full papers intended for Literature and Theology are due by 13 March 2015. Grounding the Sacred will be held from 23-26 July 2015 at Australian Catholic University, 25A Barker Road, Strathfield NSW 2135, Australia. The conference is part of ACU’s 25th anniversary celebrations.

For further details, visit:

Inquiries can be made of the conveners:
michael.griffith@acu.edu.au or elaine.lindsay@acu.edu.au.

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