Events from 5 September, 2015

  • Date
  • 15th October, 2015

    Rhetorical Sovereignty in Aboriginal Writing

    This paper engages with the field of indigenous rhetorics, emerging primarily out of the discipline of writing/composition in the US, to discuss the potential for studies of Aboriginal rhetorics in Australia. In the US, the claim has been made that, since the nineteenth century, university writing programs have contributed to the decimation of indigenous culture. Scott Richard Lyons claims that, in response, indigenous writers seek “rhetorical sovereignty … the right and ability of peoples to determine their own communicative needs” in the pursuit of individual and community goals. The priority, then, for any writing centre (or discipline using writing to evaluate student learning) is to use writing to enable, not inhibit, rhetorical sovereignty.

    This paper examines arguments such as that by Lyons and applies them in an Australian context, examining both the status of Aboriginal literary studies and writing pedagogy in Australia. Overall it will be argued that the field of indigenous rhetorics can highlight serious pedagogical problems—such as complicity with colonisation—in the Australian university system. These problems, it will be suggested, can be remedied by an engagement with Aboriginal rhetorics in the classroom.


    Lyons, Scott Richard. “Rhetorical Sovereignty: What Do American Indians Want from writing?” College Composition and Communication 51 (2000): 447-68.


    Dr Benjamin Miller has published on indigenous literature, Australian theatre and Australian cinema. He teaches undergraduate academic writing at the University of Sydney. His current research in the field of indigenous rhetorics investigates the writing of David Unaipon, the Aboriginal author on the Australian $50 note.


    The paper will be followed by a short question time. All welcome.

  • 27th October, 2015

    Writing Across the Curriculum: Challenging Boundaries

    Over the last twenty years, Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) has become a major research area within the broader discipline of Writing Studies, largely in North America. Within the last five years, however, the emphasis has shifted to focus on WAC research beyond North America, which has resulted in the expansion of the International Writing Across the Curriculum Conference (IWAC) and the establishment of related journals and book series.

    Given the recent changes across Australian universities, both in terms of academic divisions and degree structures, which have blurred disciplinary boundaries, a considerable interest in Writing Across the Curriculum research has taken shape, with many Australian senior academics having expressed interest in forming an Australasian chapter of IWAC and creating a rich culture of interdisciplinary writing research in the Southern Hemisphere.


    This symposium will bring together Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) researchers from the University and across Australia to share best practice and participate in a master class and workshop with one of the most renowned scholars in the field, Distinguished Professor Chris Anson from North Carolina State University. It will consider Writing Across the Curriculum research from an Australian perspective, identify common research interests, establish the aims of an Australian WAC Research Network, and formulate strategies for achieving a vibrant WAC research culture in the Southern Hemisphere.


    When: Tuesday 27 October 2015

    Where: Veterinary Conference Centre Room 115


    Time: 10am-4pm


    Light lunch will be provided