Westerly Centre

2011 Symposium

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The Fourteenth Biennial Symposium on Literature and Culture in the Asia-Pacific Region.

  1. Theme
  2. Conference details
  3. Guest writers
  4. Programme
  5. Writing out of Asia

Asia-Pacific Literature and Culture in the Era of the Digital Revolution

The world is currently experiencing a revolution in communication which many believe to be as significant as that occasioned by the invention of the printing press. That led to the spread of literacy, the breakdown of church and state power over writing and reading and consequently of accepted philosophies and sanctioned beliefs. It is easy to forget that at the time of Gutenberg's invention, the reading of The Bible by the general population, in any language, was punishable in many European countries by death.

The digital revolution affects Literature more than any other of the arts, and is creating dramatic changes in the publishing, distribution and reading of literature; some commentators believe that it will also change the writing of literature. These changes will go beyond the (very important) mechanical changes occasioned by electronic publishing, podcasting and reading via e-books, to changes in economic power relations, a possible further democratisation of literary practice and reception, the internationalisation of literary communities, shifts in personal and social identity, and perhaps a change in the nature of our thinking. The neuroscientist, Susan Greenfield has argued that the digital revolution may rewire our brains, and many neuroscientists now argue for the neuro-plasticity of the human brain which would support such a view.

These issues have enormous significance for all literatures; this symposium seeks to investigate their implications specifically for the literature and culture of the Asia-Pacific – a broad range of literatures of differing languages, histories and contemporary strengths, with many nations trying to maintain distinctive cultures in a world of globalisation. 

  • Does the globalisation that goes hand in hand with the digital revolution herald easier publishing and reading or greater domination by major publishing houses? 
  • Does the digital revolution promise further democratisation of reading and writing or greater domination by developed countries and established institutions? 
  • Will the digital revolution encourage greater interaction among the literatures and cultures of the region? 
  • How will studies of the literatures of the region maintain any sense of the cultures' distinctive identities? Will the idea of particular regions of the world itself disappear? 
  • Is English a help or a hindrance to the region?

Papers are invited on any aspect of these issues as they appear in literature, culture, society and politics in the Asia-Pacific.

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Conference details


4-7 December 2011


The venue for the symposium will be The University of Western Australia, which is situated on the banks of the Swan River, five kilometres from Perth City. Buses and taxis are readily available between the University and the city. Perth is one of the most picturesque cities in the Asia-Pacific region. The weather in Perth in December is usually sunny, with temperatures between 15 and 27 degrees celsius.
Please see:


The Westerly Centre, UWA. For Enquiries and Expressions of Interest please contact: 

Lucy Dougan
Phone: (+61.8) 6488 3404
Fax: (+61.8) 6488 1030
Email: westerly@uwa.edu.au

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Guest writers

The Westerly Centre and the University of Western Australia will be hosting the following distinguished writers for the 2011 Asia-Pacific Symposium:

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The programme is now available to download.

AP programme [PDF, 151.0 KB]
Updated 9 Apr 2013

AP programme [RTF, 172.8 KB]
Updated 1 Dec 2011

Writing Out of Asia

We encourage you also to join 'Writing Out of Asia’, a series of informal literary conversations (Roundtables) and workshops organised by the Asia-Pacific Writing Partnership at UWA in conjunction with the symposium.

Discussion at these Roundtables will focus on Teaching Creative Writing in Asia and the Pacific, Translation, Editing, and Literature as a Bridge Between Cultures. You must register separately for the Roundtables on Friday 2 December & Monday 4 December, and the weekend writing and translation Workshops. Find details and online registration (which is required) at Asia-Pacific Writers Partnership or go directly to our registration page.

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