Identity, Crime and Philosophy: Sydney Writers’ Festival 2014


It’s that time of year again, as Sydney puts on its annual Writers’ Festival, with highlights this year including David Malouf and Alice Walker, among hundreds of sessions variously dedicated to writing that addresses and challenges concepts of identity, history and culture.  Among the many offerings is the City of Shadows Revisited session, featuring Australian writer Peter Doyle discussing his hugely popular exhibition with photographer Pedro de Almeida and curator Nerida Campbell. Other intriguing sessions include The Real Sydney, a session focusing on Sydney’s inner-city including Parramatta and King’s Cross; Culture Wars, presented by the Griffith Review and focusing on the notion of culture in a political context; The Politics of Translation, which looks at the curious developments in author-translator relationships, and a gamut of others, many of which are free and require no bookings. This year’s festival also takes a look at the notion of ‘literary friendships’, and features The Curiosity Lecture Series on the Bloomberg Stage, with philosophical sessions such as On Epicurus and On Love on offer, as well as the session On Oulipo, which looks at the 1960s Parisian Literary Group, Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, which roughly translates as “workshop of potential literature”), who attempted to bridge literature and mathematics to form a drastic new way of writing. Its founding members included Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, as well as Jacques Roubaud, who will appear at this year’s festival. For those more accustomed to the visual culture of television and film, one of the festival’s highlights this year is Breaking Bad Creator Vince Gilligan, who will speak to Adam Spencer about his popular show, offering a behind-the-scenes look at how to program was conceived and filmed. The festival also provides more philosophy, with the session Hang Up Philosophy aiming to discuss philosophy’s place in contemporary society. The festival will also focus on emerging Australian writers, including the SMH Best Young Australian Novelists session, and will celebrate the UTS Anthology Launch from the creative writing program at the University of Technology, Sydney. The festival will take place from the 19th-25th of May.

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