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Reading and writing slowly in a digital age

Food for the soul is a luxury that is now hard to afford
Data and opinion often takes priority over soulful reading and writing in the digital age, but what are the costs of this need for speed and what benefits can we gain from it?

Have we lost sight of what is really important? Modern society places a premium on getting everything done urgently – time is short and slow reading and writing is a luxury that is becoming harder and harder for us to afford. Taking our time to produce good writing and read text at a gentle pace is crowded out by data and opinion.

The soul arrives, it is said, at the pace of a camel; information travels at light speed. If literature, as romantic poet John Keats said, is for soul making, how will our souls be made and remade in a digital age that steals time from us in many ways?

Our expert panel will explore critical questions about the place of reading and writing in the digital age. Do we have a reading crisis and what are the potential costs? In an age where most reading, if it happens at all, occurs on screens and at light speed, what are the threats to knowledge acquisition, modes of teaching, learning and wisdom?

On the other hand, what positive impact does the digital age have on our spiritual, emotional and intellectual intelligence?

This event was held at the University of Sydney on Monday 15 October 2018.

The speakers:

  • Dr Mark Tredinnick is a renowned Australian poet and the 2018 Copyright Agency Writer in Residence for the University of Sydney School of Education and Social Work. Mark has won the Montreal Poetry Prize (2011) and the Cardiff Poetry Prize (2012), and is the author of The Blue Plateau, Fire Diary, and nine other acclaimed works of poetry and prose. His work is widely published in Australian and overseas newspapers and journals. 
  • Dr Frances di Lauro is the Chair of the Writing Studies Department in the School of Literature Arts and Media at the University of Sydney. She is an inter-disciplinary scholar – formally trained in archaeology and religious studies – who teaches writing, argumentation and workplace communications. Frances is an early adapter of blended learning, flipped lectures, and emerging teaching technologies. Since 2012 she has been developing innovative ways to use Wikipedia as a collaborative writing platform and a vehicle for formative assessment that can be implemented across all teaching units at the University.
  • Dr Megan Le Masurier is a Senior Lecturer in the University's Department of Media and Communications. She began working for the department in 2005 and teaches in the undergraduate and postgraduate programs. She had a long career in the magazine industry (as a journalist and editor) and is currently researching and writing a book on Slow Magazines: Indies in Print in a Digital Age.
  • Dr Beth Yahp is a Lecturer in Creative Writing in the University's School of Literature Arts and Media. Originally from Malaysia, she is an award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction whose work has been published in Australia and internationally. Her novel The Crocodile Fury was translated into several languages. Beth was the presenter of Elsewhere, a program for travellers on ABC Radio National (2010-11). Her latest publication is a collection of short stories, The Red Pearl and Other Stories
  • Chair: Professor Annamarie Jagose, Dean of the University's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, is internationally renowned as a scholar in feminist studies, lesbian/gay studies and queer theory. She is the author of four monographs, most recently Orgasmology, which takes orgasm as its scholarly object in order to think queerly about questions of politics and pleasure; practice and subjectivity; agency and ethics. She is also an award-winning novelist and short story writer.

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