Australasian Literary Studies Conference Brings International Authors and Scholars to Claflin University

Apr 28, 2017

Claflin University’s growing reputation for global engagement reached another milestone when on April 20 – 22, the University hosted the annual American Association of Australasian Literary Studies Conference (AAALS). The AAALS is a scholarly organization that was established in 1986 to provide its members the opportunity to develop and express their interest in Australian and New Zealand literature and culture.  The organization has members on four continents.

“This year’s event was one of the most well attended with participants from around the world including Australia, United States, England, Wales, France, China, Italy, India, and Guam,” said Dr. Belinda Wheeler, assistant professor of English at Claflin.  Wheeler also was recently appointed AAALS secretary. “It was lovely to bring scholars from all around the world to Claflin for this wonderful conference. Claflin has a deep commitment to internationalizing the humanities including providing our students with access to diverse cultures from around the world. This conference was another wonderful way that we were able to do this,” Wheeler said.

Dr. Jeanine Leane, an Indigenous Australian scholar from the University of Melbourne, was the creative speaker at the conference.  Leane is a Wiradjuri writer, teacher and academician from southwest New South Wales. After a long teaching career, she completed a doctorate in Australian literature and Aboriginal representation and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Australian Centre for Indigenous History at the Australian National University. She is the recipient of an Australian Research Council grant for her project, ‘The David Unaipon Award: Shaping the literary and history of Aboriginal Writing in Australian’ that examines the growth and impact of Aboriginal writing on Australian literary culture since 1988. Leane also presented Claflin with a painting from an Indigenous Australian artist.

Dr. Anne Brewster, a non-Indigenous Australian scholar from the University of Sydney, delivered the keynote address. Her topic was “Global Violence in Australian Women’s Fiction.”  Brewster is the author of Giving this Country a Memory, an important book for all literature and Australasian collections and global Indigenous literature.  She also coedited, with Angeline O’Neill and Rosemary van den Berg, an anthology of indigenous writing, Those Who Remain Will Always Remember.    

The conference was funded in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which awarded Claflin a $500,000 grant in 2015 for internationalizing the humanities. The grant also provides funding for international faculty to visit the campus to help students increase their knowledge of diverse cultures from abroad.  The grant provided 13 Claflin faculty members an opportunity to make presentations on their efforts in curriculum internationalization.

More information about the organization and the conference can be found at http://australianliterature.org/conference/.  Dr. Wheeler can be contacted at 803-535-5717 or by email at bwheeler@claflin.edu .

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