Previous Events

Reading Aotearoa New Zealand in the Company of Lydia Wevers' Work

Seminar Series 27 April to 8 June 2022

Professor Lydia Wevers was an internationally renowned literary historian and critic, teacher, writer, and scholar who specialised in New Zealand studies.  This series addresses themes and activities in New Zealand research that were central to Professor Lydia Wevers' work, especially during her time as director of the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies. ‘Reading’ New Zealand through the lens of writers, columnists, journalists, librarians, booksellers, and academics colleagues will explore our understanding of our country through the lens of reading and writing.  Each afternoon will start with a short reflection on Lydia Wevers’ reading of the chosen theme. The panelists will then take this theme in new directions. By ‘reading’ Aotearoa New Zealand, we deepen our relationship with our unique country; by discussing it together we seek to open it up to new ways of listening.

The Infrastructure of Reading

This seminar will reflect on Lydia Wevers’ beautiful memoir “On Reading”. The panel will discuss Lydia's commitment to the infrastructure of reading and investigate the current state of reading in Aotearoa New Zealand, the role libraries have to play in our society, and how reading can and should be fostered.

Chair: Chris Szekely (Chief Librarian, Alexander Turnbull Library)

Panel: Juliet Blyth (CEO, Read NZ), Annette Beattie (Library Services Manager, Wairarapa Councils), and David Hedley (Owner, Hedley's books).

Cultures of Reading

While we often imagine reading as a solitary activity, many of us read as Lydia Wevers read: surrounded by family, community, and culture. Taking Lydia’s Reading on the Farm as a starting point, this panel will think about the cultures of reading that define us in Aotearoa, arising from our pasts, presents, and futures.

hair: Nikki Hessel, Associate Professor of English, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

Panel: Ingrid Horrocks, Professor of Creative Writing, Massey University; Tina Makereti, author and lecturer at Institute of Modern Letters, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

Writing and Reading for/in Public

Our panelists will share some of their memories of “Lydia moments’ in the media, discuss contemporary aspects of media work by writers, and delve into the relationships and future of media, academic engagement, and research.

Chair: Anna Fifield, editor of the Dominion Post

Panel: Robert Kelly, journalist at Radio NZ; Rebecca Macfie, journalist and author; Marc Wilson, Professor, Social and Political Psychology, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

Women 'readings' of Aotearoa New Zealand

This seminar will discuss what it means to be a woman writer in Aotearoa New Zealand but also about the pleasures of reading women’s New Zealand fiction. The panelists will discuss their own take on writing about, and in, Aotearoa New Zealand, reflecting on Lydia's reading tastes, their own reading tastes, and memories of their favorite writers growing up.

Chair: Kate de Goldi, author and teacher at Massey University.

Panel: Harry Ricketts, Emeritus Professor, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington; Linda Burgess, author, Brigitte Bonisch-Brednich, Professor of Anthropology, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

Reading the Short Story

Short stories can be windows into other worlds. Fictions brief enough to be consumed in one sitting but memorable enough to stay in the imagination for months or years afterward, the short story at its best can be a kind of hinge between the everyday world and the world of the imagination. Appearing in weekly magazines and newspapers as much as in book collections, short stories mingle productively. Lydia Wevers read, wrote about, and anthologised the New Zealand short story throughout her career. This panel takes Lydia’s work as a starting point to think about collecting and anthologising.

Chair:  Dougal McNeill, Senior Lecturer, English Programme, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

Panel: Fergus Barrowman, Publisher, Te Herenga Waka University Press; Jane Stafford, Professor, English Programme, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington; Khadro Mohamed, poet, photographer, and zine-maker.

Being Pākehā

Lydia Wevers' Being Pākehā: the politics of location interrogates what it means to be Pākehā, engaging in a reflexive examination of culture and politics. This panel engages with this seminal article and explores persistent dis-ease about who Pākehā are. Panelists extend this work beyond a focus on biculturalism to explore the place of tauiwi in a landscape shaped by the Christchurch mosque shootings, and within work by Māori towards tino rangatiratanga. In unpicking the politics and culture of this location, they continue the work of Lydia and many others to reassemble a place of radical justice.

Chair: Amanda Thomas, Senior Lecturer, Environmental Studies at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

Panel: Maria Bargh, Associate Professor, Māori Studies, Te Kawa a Māui, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington; Sara Salman, Institute of Criminology, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

A life as a Reader Researcher: Honouring Lydia Wevers’ Legacy at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

In this festive afternoon event, speakers will remember Lydia's legacy and share their memories. Lydia’s lifelong friend, a fellow Oxford graduate, author Professor Witi Ihimaera will speak about his life as a reader and writer, and share memories of Lydia and their life as students, later as university teachers, researchers, and writers. Our speakers will remember Lydia’s legacy as a lecturer of students, a fellow teacher and researcher, a colleague, and a public academic.