16 September 2008

The University of Queensland will become a hub for some of the world’s best authors this week as part of the 2008 Brisbane Writers Festival.

As one of the major sponsors of the BWF, UQ is hosting and sponsoring a number of events, including the official Opening Night address by human rights activist and author Chris Abani on September 17, and free public sessions with Yann Martel, Simon Winchester and James Frey at the UQ Art Museum. A full list is available below.

Abani’s new novel - Song for Night – relates the story of a child soldier in Africa, and demonstrates why he ranks among the most incendiary and emotionally devastating authors writing today.

This year’s festival sees 220 writers participate across five days, each with a promise to grow our minds through the telling of stories of love, loss, despair, hope, laughter and tears.

“The Faculty of Arts at UQ has always played a big part in the festival and this year other faculties have lent their support and expertise,” Arts Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) Professor Fred D’Agostino said.

“It’s important to show that in this technological age, books and reading are still important and touch upon every aspect of our lives.”

A wide range of UQ academics are leading sessions at this year’s event, including the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Greenfield.

Professor Greenfield, a chemical engineer, will chair the session The Ultimate Sea Change: The Future of the Reef with leading environmental reporter Alanna Mitchell on September 21 at the State Library.

And in another highlight, UQ postgraduate creative writing students will have the opportunity to discuss their work with international award winning poet Michael Hoffman.

For further details about UQ’s involvement in the 2008 Brisbane Writers Festival, including session details and ticketing, please click here or visit www.brisbanewritersfestival.com.au.

Sessions held at UQ

The following free sessions will be held at UQ during the Brisbane Writers Festival. Tickets are limited.

• Discussion with Alanna Mitchell Wed, 17 September 1.00-2.15pm
• Discussion with Libby Gleeson Wed, 17 September 3.00-4.15pm
• Discussion with Chris Abani and Steven Galloway Thurs, 18 September 1.00-2.15pm
• Discussion with Leilah Nadir and Simon Winchester Thurs, 18 September 3.00-4.15pm
• Discussion with James Frey Fri, 19 September 10.30-11.30am
• Lecture: Yann Martel Fri, 19 September 1.00-2.00pm
• Lecture: Richard Holmes Fri, 19 September 3.30-5.00pm

Featured UQ sessions

• Professor Richard Fotheringham, Executive Dean of the Faulty of Arts will chair the session, Moments of Stillness: What is Stephen Harper Reading? by Yann Martel on September 18, while Professor Ian Zimmer, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law, will chair the session, My Guantanamo Diary with Mahvish Khan on September 21.

• Acting Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences Professor Cindy Gallois will chair the session Giving Voice: Speaking for those who cannot, with Mahvish Kahn, Benjamin Gilmour and Antony Loewenstein on September 18.

• Professor Pankaj Sah, Head of Synaptic Plasticity at the Queensland Brain Institute, will chair the session, The Next Frontier: The Miracles of the Brain by Norman Doidge and Susan Wyndham on September 18.

• Keith Webster, University Librarian and Director of Learning Services at The University of Queensland, will chair the session Watching Brief: Reflections on Human Rights, Law and Justice, which sees Julian Burnside in conversation with Steven Keim on September 20.

• Dr Stuart Glover, Senior Lecturer in the School of Media Studies and Art History (EMSAH) will chair the session Song for Night with Chris Abani on September 20. Dr Glover has been a significant figure in the redevelopment of the Queensland literary and cultural industries over the past two decades and was the erstwhile Director of Brisbane Writers Festival for many years.

• Two sessions on September 20 are also sponsored by AustLit - the Australian Literature Database project housed at UQ. These are Researching the Past, which is chaired by EMSAH's Dr Leigh Dale and features award winning Australian writers Kate Grenville and Simon Cleary, and What Makes Australian Literature Australian?, to be led by AustLit Director Kerry Kilner.

Media: Tara Young at UQ Arts (07 3365 3072, tara.young@uq.edu.au) or Cameron Pegg at UQ Communications (07 3365 2049, c.pegg@uq.edu.au)