2021 Literary Studies Convention


Triennial Literary Studies Convention

20 July 2021 - 23 July 2021


The 2021 literary studies convention will bring together four of the major literary studies associations in the country for five days of keynotes, presentations and workshops, enabling scholars, students, teachers and the broader public to encounter the breadth of research happening in literary studies in Australia today. The convention is also a key forum for discussing the state and future of the discipline of literary studies in Australia.

Most sessions are now viewable on demand. Click the links to watch the session on YouTube. 



4.45pm - 7.00pm

Presentation of ASAL Awards including the ALS Gold Medal, Mary Gilmore Award, A.D. Hope Award, Walter McRae Russell and Alvie Egan Awards.

Behrouz Boochani

Writer, Journalist, and Refugee Activist

Writing Through Fences: A History from Below

Writing Through Fences formed out of relationships between human beings beyond the prison fences and beyond borders, which involved refugees communicating with each other and also with people in Australia. It was a safe online space and involved many people from detention centres in mainland Australia, Christmas Island, Indonesia, and later on Manus Island and Nauru. Behrouz Boochani and Omid Tofighian have engaged with Writing Through Fences for years, and this talk critically analyses the initiative and the fundamental role of people such as writer/founder Janet Galbraith and writer/convenor Hani Abdile. Writing Through Fences is a part of Australia’s historical memory since it involves events from Australia’s dark history and writers that document Australia’s unofficial and forgotten history: “A history from below”. These writings - together with examples of visual art and commentary by Aboriginal peoples and settlers - have recently been published in a special issue of Southerly called 'Writing Through Fences: Archipelago of Letters'.

These writings can help form a kind of knowledge that comes directly from the lived experience of refugees. The philosophy that emerges from writing and creating inside the detention centres helps imprisoned refugees to survive the hardship of incarceration, in addition it can become a significant and large field for researchers, writers and artists to understand Australia’s detention system. By engaging in Writing Through Fences refugees want to say that they are not voiceless, they do not need others to be their voices. They want to project their own voices. In other words, refugees are part of the main discourse. They are not passive. They want to make change

Omid Tofighian

Lecturer, Researcher and Community Advocate


Easy to access, secure online sessions for all online attendees.

More than 70 hours of scheduled content over three days

Virtually network and meet with colleagues from around the world

On-demand access available post-conference


Writer, Journalist, and Refugee Activist

Lecturer, Researcher and Community Advocate

Auburn University, Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project

Independent Scholar

Cornell University

University of Sussex

Deakin University


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The organisers of this convention express our thanks to all those who helped make the event possible.