“Role of literature at the time of social crisis” – Melbourne Writers Festival 2020

Last week I have attended several insightful online sessions at the Melbourne Writers Festival. One of the sessions focused on the role of literature at the time of social crisis, climate change and the roles of literature in the education system in Australia. From this session I have learned that the literature serves an important role in society, it helps us to negotiate and understand societal problems and understand stories of “the other”. For kids, literature serves as a way to understand their identity and their country.

Australian literary landscape includes colonial writings, yet other less prominent streams focus on indigenous writings and writings of recent immigrants. In secondary schools, for example, Australian literature remains a fragile and fragmented area. It is only recently (since 2007) that the Australian literature was mandated within curriculum in schools. Australian schools place way more focus on the world literature as opposed to the Australian literature. This tendency could be explained by the dominant legacies of colonialism and historical traditions.

Literary education within Australian schools is also influenced by the political matters. The neo-liberal government places strong focus on the exams and students scores. It is the content of these exams that drives the curriculum choices and sharpens students’ focus. While teachers get increasingly high workloads and administrative burdens, they should be the cheerleaders of the Australian literature. Australian teachers should balance the need for global education and local knowledge.

After all, our training and education determine how we read and understand books. “You don’t read a text, but a text reads you”. Indeed, I notice myself that my international background shapes my interpretations of Australian books. It is very surprising that Australian schools don’t include much of Australian literature (I haven’t studied myself in Australia). I have to still familiarize myself with Australian literary landscape. My next blog posts will outline this interesting journey.


Habit 4: Think Win-Win – principles of interpersonal leadership

Let’s continue our discussion of the “7 habits of highly effective people” written by Stephen Covey. Win-win is another habit suggested by Stephen Covey in his famous book “7 habits of highly effective people”. Covey describes this paradigm as constantly seeking mutual benefit in interactions. Covey argues that most people think in terms of win-lose … Continue reading “Habit 4: Think Win-Win – principles of interpersonal leadership”

“Snow” by Orhan Pamuk

Orhan is a Nobel Prize winner in literature in 2006. Orhan Pamuk’s novel “Snow” is both challenging to read, melancholic and deep. I like reading difficult literature as it allows for some space to fill the gaps and requires you to think about the implicit meanings. The first challenge for me was to understand the … Continue reading ““Snow” by Orhan Pamuk”

3 thoughts on ““Role of literature at the time of social crisis” – Melbourne Writers Festival 2020”

  1. When I went to school in Queensland twenty years ago, we didn’t read Australian books as part of the English curriculum. We always had to do one term of Shakespeare each year, and the curriculum focused on British and American novels the teachers thought might make us ‘better people’ (“Animal Farm”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, etc.).

    I don’t remember reading a single Australian book. I believe it’s changed somewhat since then. Authors like Tim Winton and Melina Marchetta are now on the syllabus, reflecting some of those varied voices you refer to. An interesting article, Alyona. Thanks for sharing your insights.


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