09 September 2014

Brigita Ozolins, The Secretary, 2013-4. When author Stephen King wrote, “Books are a uniquely portable magic,” he probably wasn’t thinking about e-books, but as we increasingly move towards a technological transformation of the book – will the “magic” of the book survive.

The University of South Australia’s Hawke Research Institute is hosting an important public forum - Book Futures - to consider such questions and much more.

The forum will be held tomorrow – Wednesday, September 10 from 1pm to 2.30pm at UniSA’s Bradley Forum, Hawke Centre, City West campus.

Director of The Hawke EU Centre for Mobilities, Migrations and Cultural Transformations, and Deputy Director of the Hawke Research Institute, Associate Professor Jennifer Rutherford says sociologists have argued it is the book that made us modern.

“The book forged social connections between individuals across space and time and created identities built around new forms of belonging made possible by shared imagined worlds circulating en masse from hand to hand,” Prof Rutherford says.

“But as books lose their physicality and libraries are filled with computers, are the new disembodied books of the digital age creating new ways of being?

“Disembodied in the virtual world, content is becoming a new kind of commodity at work in the world in new kinds of unforeseen ways.”

Prof Rutherford says the forum will explore the social and aesthetic implications of separating content from form and what this new reality might mean for the future of the book and its readers.

“We want to explore what we might be losing by this transformation but also what might be fundamentally changing about the way we engage with books,” she says.  

The forum will include a panel discussion with Director of Writers’ Week at the Adelaide Festival, Laura Kroetsch; award-winning fiction writer and author of Mister Pip, Lloyd Jones; founding editor and publisher of HEAT magazine and the award-winning Giramondo book imprint, Professor Ivor Indyk; and Associate Professor in Sociology and Literature, Prof Jennifer Rutherford.

The forum is being accompanied by an exhibition in collaboration with the SASA Gallery exploring the future of the book. The exhibition of works by artists Tim Schwartz and Brigita Ozolins critically analyses changes surrounding the book through prints, sculptures and installations and is open at the SASA Gallery, Kaurna Building, City West campus until September 26.

Speaker biographies

Lloyd Jones is an award-winning fiction writer. His first collection of short stories was published in 1991, and he has also written books for children. His bestselling novel Mister Pip won several illustrious prizes and awards including the 2007 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Best Book Award and the 2007 Montana Medal for fiction. It was also shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize. He has written numerous novels, and has worked as a journalist and consultant.

Laura Kroetsch is the Director of Writers’ Week at the Adelaide Festival. Laura is an innovative producer of literary events and brings to Writers' Week a wealth of experience and a new vision for this beloved and nationally significant event. Laura has spent almost twenty years working in the world of books and literature. A long-time critic and book reviewer she is an advocate for writers and an active member of the various literary communities. She has an enormous enthusiasm for literature in all its forms and a commitment to building readership.

Professor Ivor Indyk is founding editor and publisher of HEAT magazine and the award-winning Giramondo book imprint, and Whitlam Professor in the Writing and Society Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney. His current research projects include the history of Australian literary publishing and the expression of emotion in Australian literature. A critic, essayist and reviewer, he has written a monograph on David Malouf for Oxford University Press, and essays on many aspects of Australian literature, art, architecture and publishing.

Jennifer Rutherford is Director of The Hawke EU Centre for Mobilities, Migrations and Cultural Transformations, Deputy Director of the Hawke Research Institute at the University of South Australia and Associate Professor in Sociology and Literature. Her research fields encompass Australian race relations, psychoanalysis, and social poetics. She has published extensively on intercultural relations in Australia, on the psychopathology of the white Australian imaginary, and on melancholia, displacement and loss. She is the director of the acclaimed documentary, Ordinary People on Pauline Hanson’s One Nation movement.

Media contact: Michèle Nardelli office: +61 8 8302 0966 mobile: 0418 823 673 email: Michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au 

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