Call for papers

Call for papers

Call for papers: Mini-ASAL conference: “A Window of Life:” The Writing of Ruth Park

Australian National University, February 14-16, 2024

In a 1942 letter to her penfriend and fellow writer D’Arcy Niland, Ruth Park wrote:“I feel, and I know you do too, that I’m a window of life… I can, when clear enough, be the medium through which others may see. This is the mission of the writer, surely—not to propagandise, which is to subtly twist the simplest things, but to depict good and bad as they are. However, one is so damnably impotent to express the exquisiteness of life as it surges within one.” At the time she wrote these words, Park aged 25—was working as a journalist and editor at the Auckland Star. Her self-characterisation as a “window of life” reflects her confidence and self-aware writerly ambition. It also highlights her dedication to her particular brand of realism—to present “good and bad as they are” without “subtly twisting the simplest things.”

Written in the year that she migrated to Australia, where she would marry Niland, these words serve as a touchstone for the 2024 mini-ASAL conference that focuses on the work, life, and legacy of New Zealand-Australian author Ruth Park. The conference invites participants to explore Park as a writer who embraced opportunities in emerging media industries, and who produced a body of works that help us better understand the transformative forces shaping her century.

Topic Suggestions

  • Park, media and technology
  • Park’s women
  • Park’s men
  • Park’s children
  • Park’s workers
  •  Park’s animals
  •  Park’s fictional worlds
  • Park’s autobiographical writing
  • Park in translation
  • International reception of Park
  • Immigrants (for example Irish, Scots, Danes in Australia and/or New Zealand) in
    Park’s writing
  • First Nations people and/or Māori in Park’s writing
  • Park and the Pacific region
  • Migrating or travelling Park
  • Travel and/or time-travel in Park
  • Park and disability
  • Poverty; housing crises
  • Park’s regions, elemental environments, islands and/or atmospheres
  • Park and the built environment
  • Sexual violence and/or reproductive rights
  • Literary Park
  • Popular Park
  • Genre (melodrama, romance, historical fiction, realism, memoir or other)
  • Park’s journalism
  • The writing couple (Park and D’Arcy Niland)
  • Writing for radio and/or television
  • Writing, publishing, and editing

Please email an abstract of 150 words to [email protected] by Thursday 18 January