ACU will hold a symposium celebrating noted Australian author David Malouf and his influence on contemporary writers and culture.
Ask writers to talk about themselves and they tend to clam up. Their words are polished, finely tuned and savoured, but rarely will they use them to describe their own work.
It is left to others to do the talking, and that’s what will be happening at Australian Catholic University’s David Malouf Symposium – a day of conversation, analysis and discussion about one of Australia’s best-loved authors.
Held on Friday 31 May, this collaboration between ACU and the Association for the Study of Australian Literature celebrates Malouf’s work and his long-standing relationship with the University in the lead up to his 80th birthday. It will feature Australian and international academics and writers of note including Nicholas Jose, James Tulip, Brigid Rooney, American literary theorist Ihab Hassan, and Irish author Colm Tóibín. The final session will comprise a conversation between Malouf and Ivor Indyk.
Malouf taught Dr Michael Griffith, ACU Associate Professor of Literature and Language, and now he is a generous contributor to Dr Griffith’s own students.
“It has always been one of the high points of our academic calendar where students have had the privilege of having a conversation with one of the world's great novelists,” Dr Griffith said.
These students include those involved in the Clemente program for socially disadvantaged adults run by ACU and Mission Australia.
“His novels have provided me with a wonderful way of engaging students with the question of what it is to be human and, more importantly, what is it that adds a sacred dimension to human experience.”
Malouf’s books are an extraordinary canon of writing that have inspired, intrigued and sometimes frustrated students and lovers of Australian literature. But what inspires him? “It could be anything that captures your attention in some way,” Malouf said.
“Whenever something lights that fire in you, I would start to write straight away. I would write down something to see if there was anything I could make of it. That might be a paragraph, a place or a piece of action, or a bit of dialogue or something. That’s a bit like turning down the page of a book and seeing whether I can reconstruct something and go on for a whole book.”
So far he has gone for 14 books, five short story collections, eight collections of poetry, a play and four libretti.
Papers from the Symposium will form the basis of a special 2014 issue of the Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (JASAL).