Selecting and teaching Indigenous literature in the English classroom
NB: This event is BOOKED OUT.
In her Overland essay, ‘Other Peoples’ Stories’, Jeanine Leane recalls her reading experiences from the late 1960s:
“…when I was about eight, I announced to my aunt that I wanted to be white. If I were white, I explained, I would see myself everywhere – on television, on posters, in magazines, in books. Even at that young age, I knew I was unlikely to recognise myself in a book. If I did, it would be as a primitive, half-naked, thieving, violent savage, or the tragic drunken relic of a civilisation on the brink of extinction…”
As Leane later reminds her audience, literary representations are never just benign descriptions.
This pre-conference symposium addresses the challenges associated with selecting and teaching Indigenous literature. Leading authors, academics and educators will support attendees to understand the importance of selecting texts created by First Nations Peoples. Important questions which will be addressed across this event will include:
- Why should we teach texts created by Indigenous authors?
- How do we engage with the multiple perspectives associated with these texts?
- What knowledge about the history of Australia do we need to engage in this work?
- How can we include Indigenous people in the work we do with these texts?
The day will combine keynote presentations with workshop-style sessions. You will leave with an appreciation for the importance of selecting diverse texts, knowledge about possibilities that you might consider for your classrooms, and ideas about how you can use English teaching to respond to what the Uluru Statement from the Heart aspires to: a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia.
Confirmed speakers include: Tony Birch; Ali Cobby Eckermann; Marcia Langton; and Cara Shipp
Convener: Alex Bacalja
Tony Birch is the author of Ghost River, which won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing, and Blood, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. He is also the author of Shadowboxing and three short story collections, Father’s Day, The Promise and Common People.
In 2017 he was awarded the Patrick White Literary Award. Tony is a frequent contributor to ABC local and national radio and a regular guest at writers’ festivals. He lives in Melbourne and is a Senior Research Fellow at Victoria University.
In 2018, Ali Cobby Eckermann gained a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship in Umbria Italy and received a Literature Fellowship Award from the Australia Council for the Arts. Ali was awarded the inaugural Windham-Campbell Prize for Poetry from Yale University in 2017. Ali presented at the WORD Festival in Christchurch New Zealand and an Australian Aesthetics Keynote at Berkeley in 2016.
Inside My Mother is her latest collection of poems. In 2014 Ali was the first Aboriginal Australian author to attend the International Writing Program in Iowa, USA. She also presented at the Jaipur Literature Festival in Rajasthan, India.
Professor Marcia Langton is one of Australia's most important voices for Indigenous Australia. She first became an Indigenous rights activist at Queensland University in the 1970s, and since then has worked with the Central Land Council, the Cape York Land Council and for the 1989 Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody. In more recent times, Professor Langton has become an academic and now works at Melbourne University.
Professor Langton has received many accolades, including an Order of Australia, and has authored several books. In 1999 Professor Langton was one of five Indigenous leaders who were granted an audience with the Queen to discuss the proposed recognition of Indigenous Australians in the Australian Constitution. She is also a frequent guest on the ABC's Q&A show.
Cara Shipp is a Wiradjuri/Welsh woman (descending from the Lamb and Shipp families in Central Western NSW) and currently leads Years 9-12 at Silkwood School, Mount Nathan, in the Gold Coast Hinterland. She has previously lived and worked in Canberra and has run alternative educational programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students; held Head Teacher English/HASS/Languages positions; and served as President, Vice President and Editor with the ACT Association for the Teaching of English (ACTATE).
Cara has completed a Master of Education focusing on Aboriginal literacy and regularly presents cultural competence training at local and national conferences, particularly within the context of incorporating Indigenous perspectives into the English curriculum. In 2013, Cara was part of the ACARA working party on incorporating the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures cross-curriculum priority into the Civics and Citizenship curriculum. Cara trained with the Stronger Smarter Leadership Program (leading change in Aboriginal education) and is a trained Stronger Smarter facilitator.