Core Project Activities

Gilgandra High School

Year 9 and 10 students at Gilgandra High School engage in a learning module on Postmodernism

Through extensive consultation with partner school Principals and Head English teachers, the project has established a program of discipline-specific learning modules designed for on and off-campus delivery to students, to support the teaching of literature and encourage pathways for students to university. The program includes the academic delivery of these learning modules in the students’ own classrooms, as well as annual ‘campus visits’ at which partner school students engage with each other and with Department of English postgraduates and undergraduates in university-modelled learning.

To date, 20 academics and 150 undergraduate and postgraduate students from across the Department have engaged with partners school students on 30 separate occasions, involving more than 1,000 high school students. So far the Department has delivered modules on a broad range of topics, including: Staging Shakespeare; Creative writing and characterisation; Cinematic ‘belonging’, film and TV; Novels and New Media; Race and ethnicity in popular Fantasy fiction; Romantic poetry and 19th C novels; Postcolonial ‘place’ and Australian literature; Postmodernism; Feminist theory; Graphic novels and video games.

'Critical Friends' Mentoring Program

Bankstown Girls High School

Bankstown Girls High School students swamped by their peers at their ‘Meet the Author’ event in 2014

As part of its commitment to fostering creative expression in hand with academic achievement at school, the Project includes a ‘Critical Friends’ Mentoring Program that supports Year 12 students at partner schools in their English Extension 2 HSC projects. In its pilot program at Bankstown Girls High School the department has so far mentored six Year 12 students to the completion of their major works.

In 2014 the school held a ‘Meet the Author’ function to celebrate the fantastic achievements of its graduating authors.

The Critical Role of Storytelling

The project has identified potentials for further engagement in the Central and Far West regions of NSW, where substantial creative and cultural resources already exist. From 2015 – 2017 the project will expand the rural arm of its program to tailor creative writing and academic modules to these unique contexts. Titled “The Critical Role of Storytelling”, this stream of the project seeks to encourage students to engage with their local environments and to develop creative work out of local attachments.

Online Engagement

To minimise rural disenfranchisement from program activities, the project is working to extend interaction between rural partner schools and partner students in metropolitan Sydney and with the academic staff at the University. Currently under development, these platforms will offer online learning modules and literary discussion centred around students’ school studies, but will also encourage student engagement with broader literatures not prescribed by their school syllabus.