Welcome to the Writing and Society Research Centre research project gallery! This page provides a brief overview of some of our current projects, industry-based initiatives, and community partnerships in literature and writing. For an expanded picture, please visit the Writing and Society Research Centre web pages.
The Writing and Society Research Centre (WSRC) is unique in Australia in combining research via both literary scholarship and creative practice. The Centre plays a major role in both the regional and national promotion of Australian literature, through the mentoring of writers from the Western Sydney region, the book publishing program of Giramondo Publishing, and the publication of Australia’s preeminent literary review journal the Sydney Review of Books (SRB).
The Centre’s members include critics, poets, theorists, novelists, experimental writers, translators, editors and publishers, and a large cohort of national and international students engaged in postgraduate research (through PhDs, DCAs and Masters in Literature and Creative Writing).
The Centre has research strengths in modern literature and contemporary writing (from both scholarly and creative perspectives); critical theory, literature and philosophy; poetry and poetics; literary translation; cross-media arts; literary publishing; and the new technologies of writing. It places a high value on practice-led research, and on the public sharing of critical and creative writing through publications, conferences and literary events.
The Writing and Society Research Centre sits within the School of Humanities and Communication Arts and is based at the Parramatta South campus of the Western Sydney University.
Click to expand or collapse.
The Giramondo Publishing Company is an independent, Australian, university-based literary publisher of award-winning poetry, fiction and non-fiction, renowned for the quality of its writing, editing and book design.
The Writing and Society Research Centre is home to the Giramondo book imprint, directed and run by Centre founder Professor Ivor Indyk. Giramondo Publishing engages with practice-led literary research, exploring and nurturing the avenues open to Australian literature at a time of crisis in the book industry.
The Giramondo Publishing Company was set up in December 1995 with the aim of publishing quality creative and interpretive writing by Australian authors. It seeks to encourage innovative and adventurous literary work that might not otherwise find publication because of its subtle commercial appeal; to stimulate exchange between Australian writers and readers and their counterparts overseas; and to build a common ground between the academy and the marketplace.
Giramondo’s literary journal HEAT was founded in 1996, with the aim of publishing innovative Australian and international writers of the highest quality, often in translation. Fifteen issues were published in the first series, from 1996-2000. It was succeeded by the new series HEAT, designed by Harry Williamson, with twenty-four issues published between 2001 and 2011. The third series of HEAT, in a new design and format, will be published from 2022.
In 2002 the Giramondo Publishing Company began the publication of literary works by individual authors in its Giramondo book imprint. Many of these titles have won major Australian literary prizes, including the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, the Nita B Kibble Award and the various state Premier’s Awards for Literature.
Giramondo authors include poets Ali Cobby Eckermann, Judith Beveridge, Michael Farrell, John Mateer and Maryam Azam; fiction writers Alexis Wright, Brian Castro Gerald Murnane, Rawah Arja, Beverley Farmer, Luke Carman, Tom Cho and Felicity Castagna; and non-fiction writers Fiona Wright, Vanessa Berry, Evelyn Juers, David Walker, John Hughes, Martin Edmond and Robert Gray.
All our books are designed by the award-winning Australian designer Harry Williamson. Since March 2005, HEAT magazine and the Giramondo imprint have been published from the Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University, which bringstogether writers, publishers, scholars and students concerned with the social and imaginative power of good writing.
The Sydney Review of Books publishes critical, creative, ambitious, and engaging writing on contemporary literature and culture. The journal was established by members of the Writing and Society Research Centre in 2013, partly in response to the diminished critical discussion of literature and the arts in the mainstream media in Australia. The SRB is committed to original and informed literary criticism and to the essay in all its forms. We work with Australia’s best writers to publish essays and reviews that expand and enrich Australian literary culture.
Each week the SRB presents new review essays, feature essays, and interviews, as well as curating a lively series of public programs throughout the year. We support writers and writing and each year offer a number of residencies and fellowships for critics at all stages of their career. We publish online to a global audience from our base in Parramatta at the Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University
The WSRC, in partnership with WestWords, has begun a new “Writers in Residence” Program in 2020, funded by the Cultural Fund of the Copyright Agency Ltd. The WW-WSU Writers in Residence Program provides emerging authors with an opportunity to develop their professional skills and develop new work through a tailored program of activities with both organisations. Kavita Bedford and Rawah Arja have been announced as our two Western Sydney Writers in Residence for 2020/21.
During the residency, Kavita will be working on a follow-up to her novel Friends & Dark Shapes (Text Publishing, Australia; forthcoming in 2021 with Europa Editions, USA). Rawah will be working on a collection of short stories reflecting her experiences in Punchbowl. Her debut YA novel, The F-Team, was published in September 2020 by Giramondo Publishing. Due to COVID-19 disruptions, the residency will now take place virtually for three weeks from October to December. If possible, two additional weeks of in-person activities will be held early in 2021 at the WSRC and WestWords.
Dr Kate Fagan, Director of the Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University, comments: “The Centre has a long-standing commitment to diverse literary voices from our region. During their time with us, both residents will be mentored by WSRC authors and by editorial staff from the Sydney Review of Books. They will teach into our creative writing programs, and will share creative work with new audiences via our seminar event series. We can’t wait to welcome both residents.”
Other Worlds: Forms of World Literature is a three-year Australian Research Council Funded project involving four eminent Australian writers: J. M. Coetzee, Gail Jones, Nicholas Jose, and Alexis Wright. They are working together with critics Anthony Uhlmann and Ben Etherington, and emerging writer Samantha Trayhurn (DCA candidate in the WSRC) to explore the ways in which practising writers engage with writers from other literary communities. They are also considering the ways in which these transnational and intranational relationships shape their own world-making practices.
The project was developed in response to developments in world literary studies. Over the first two decades of the twenty-first century, those in this field asked questions relating to global systems of power, dissemination, exchange, translation, and interpretation, with theorists tending to work from systemic analyses to particular texts. Counter-critiques variously stressed literature’s irreducible specificity, its own peculiar world-making capacities, its resistances to commodification, and commitments to ideal forms of world literature that are opposed to globalisation.
The purpose of Other Worlds is to engage with these questions not on the basis of prior theoretical commitments but as “world literature” is currently being elaborated in the various engagements and collaborations of the writers involved. The themes centre on the writers’ own creative activities as they produce new spheres of world literary possibility. The project’s only starting assumption is that creative practice is itself a way thinking and that new theoretical possibilities can arise from the exchange between it and criticism.
The project’s themes explore versions of world literature that set out from their distinct and idiosyncratic engagements with the literatures of the world. Nicholas Jose’s theme, Antipodean China, considers the presence of China and Chinese literature in the work and imagination of writers in Australia, and vice versa. In Oral Storytelling , Alexis Wright considers the challenges facing Aboriginal storytelling and the way that Aboriginal stories are told. This includes considering the importance of memory, the archive, and the relation between the oral story and the written story. Gail Jones and J. M. Coetzee are collaborating on theme of Southern Encounters. This involves convening writers from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Argentina to discuss the possibilities of writing from ‘the South’.
Alongside the main creative themes, Anthony Uhlmann and Ben Etherington are conducting a series of critical events and reflections under the banner of Dialogues. This includes seminars, symposia, and conferences both on the writers involved and other writers linked to the project, as well as developing their own essays and books in conversation with the main themes.
The Writing Zone is a 3-year mentoring program for young writers from Western Sydney, hosted by the Writing & Society Research Centre (2020-2022) with funding from the “Western Sydney Arts and Education Initiative” of the Crown and Packer Foundations. The program is designed to help young writers from the West to tell their stories, polish their craft and build a creative community together. The Writing Zone offers 12 places to young writers each year – all committed writers at different stages of their writing careers who want to develop their practice alongside other young writers, editors and mentors. Each year, The Writing Zone will also employ and train a young Arts Worker from Western Sydney.
While in the Writing Zone, young writers will publish their work in two books emerging from the program: a digital chapbook and a TWZ anthology. They will participate in mentoring sessions with SBS Voices, with whom the WSRC has developed a new partnership in 2020, and with WSRC’s flagship publishing ventures in the Sydney Review of Books and Giramondo Publishing. They will have opportunities to work closely with author-mentors from the broader literary community, who will help edit their writing towards publication. They will also have chances to perform and speak about their work to larger public audiences.
The Writing Zone is Directed by Kate Fagan, Director of the Writing and Society Research Centre, while the project’s Publications Director is Catriona Menzies-Pike. Melinda Jewell is the Project Advisor, while our first Program Officer is Western Sydney arts worker Ilhan Abdi, who is also working as a junior editor within the SRB. For examples of the works being created within The Writing Zone, please see the Poetry Listerning Lounge website within the Research Creation Day online showcase.
Applications for the 2021 intake to The Writing Zone will open early in 2021 – keep an eye on the project website, and look out for our events via the WSRC’s social media channel.