Writers and Their World Seminar Series

The Writers and Their World Seminar Series is run by the HDR Program in Creative Writing, as part of the Literary and Cultural Studies Graduate Research Program. Audio and video of the papers presented in this series may be downloaded below.

Creativity in Science and Creative Writing

Professor Ed Byrne, AO
Monday 10th March, 2014

The nature of creativity in science and in the creative arts has been much discussed. Many scientists and prominent doctors are adept musicians. Some of the great writers in English have a medical background. Keats was a medical students at Guys hospital, Somerset Maughan famously gained many of his insights as a medical student in London. The creative impulse which leads to great science has many parallels with that which underpins creative writing. In this talk I will draw out the parallels between creation in science and literature and talk about my personal experience in both worlds.

Professor Ed Byrne became Vice Chancellor and President of Monash University on 6 July 2009. He began his career in Adelaide after graduating with first class honours from the University of Tasmania in 1974. He was made Neurology Registrar at Royal Adelaide Hospital in 1978. In 1983, he was appointed Director of Neurology at St Vincent’s Hospital and Professor Clinical Neurology at the University of Melbourne in 1992.

Professor Byrne was a founding director of the Melbourne Neuromuscular Research Institute and the Centre for Neuroscience in 1993. He was also made Professor of Experimental Neurology at the University of Melbourne in 2001. He first came to Monash University as the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, a role he held from 2003 until 2007. Professor Byrne was then appointed the Vice Provost (Health) at University College London (UCL). He held that position until becoming the eighth Vice Chancellor at Monash University.

The University of Melbourne awarded him a Doctor of Science, a higher degree conferred in recognition of a demonstrated record of research excellence. He completed a Masters of Business Administration in 2005. Professor Byrne was admitted as an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2006 and a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2014.

Download the audio of this paper in MP3 format


Literature in the Age of Tourism: Cross-Cultural Experience in Novels by Julian Barnes, Murray Bail, Yasmine Gooneratne, and Jamaica Kincaid

Professor Dr. Barbara Schmidt-Haberkamp
Monday 17th March 2014

Barbara Schmidt-Haberkamp
Barbara Schmidt-Haberkamp

Tourism, a cultural practice familiar to all of us, grounds on the construction of difference; even more so, it is based on the marketable myths of authenticity and exoticism – which the practice of tourism again debunks: the local or the foreign are manipulated in order to meet the demands of an international consumer public. The texts chosen for this paper all focus on tourism and address precisely the questions of reality and representation, of concepts of self and the other. They do not belong to travel writing; on the contrary, they question the claim to referentiality and documentation which is integral to travel writing. Instead, they share a marked skepticism about the possibility of experiencing otherness at all, at the same time that they question the stability of cultural origins. With that they raise questions about the nature or even possibility of cross-cultural experience. “Travel broadens the mind”, is a well-known saying. The texts I will discuss claim that it doesn’t.

Barbara Schmidt-Haberkamp is Professor of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures at the University of Bonn, Germany. Her main research interests are postcolonial studies and eighteenth-century British literature and culture in a comparative, European perspective. She is the author of Die verordnete Kultur: Stereotypien der australischen Literaturkritik (1990) – a study of the history of literary criticism in Australia – and Die Kunst der Kritik: zum Zusammenhang von Ethik und Ästhetik bei Shaftesbury (2000). She has edited/co-edited essay collections on cultural transfer in eighteenth-century Europe, on Europe and Turkey in the Eighteenth Century (2011) and most recently on Drink in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (Pickering & Chatto 2014) as well as an anthology of Contemporary Indian Short Stories (2006). She has published articles on various aspects of eighteenth-century culture and on postcolonial theory and literatures, among them some 15 articles on Australian literature and culture. She serves on the board of the German Association for Australian Studies (GASt) and was a founding member of the European Association for Australian Studies (EASA).

Download the audio of this paper in MP3 format

Find out more: