Talks

Join us for an exciting program of talks and seminars on literary, historical and contemporary issues, together with presentations about, and showings of, the Library's rich collections.

You can also listen to selected talks online.

Archibald Barwick Diary

Thursday 24 April, 6.00 PM

Special event: Out of the Vaults: War Diaries

As we look forward to commemorating the centenary of World War 1 and Australia’s role in it, we invite you to come and see part of the Library’s rich collection of servicemen and women’s precious albums, letter collections and keepsakes sent back from the war. The Library holds over 500 World War I diary and letter collections which have been deposited since 1918.

This event is part of the Out of the Vaults series.

Musk Lorikeet

Wednesday 30 April, 6.00 PM

Talk: The Derby Lectures: Kate Hughes "The colonial artist's toolbox"

The State Library is presenting a suite of public lectures to celebrate Artist Colony: Drawing Sydney’s Nature. The lectures will explore the history of the collection, research around it and related themes including aspects of natural history and colonial context. Following the lecture there will be an after-hours viewing of the exhibition.

In association with the Artist colony exhibition.

Canberra

Thursday 1 May, 6.00 PM

Talk: Forward Thinking: Discussing Australian Public Policy

Australian government budgets are unfit, overweight and smoking – and now they have high blood pressure and chest pains. This talk will take a look at what has happened to government budgets over the last decade, and why we need to get fit and healthy again. Starting now.
John Daley, CEO of the Grattan Institute, will lead the discussion.

Peter Szendy

Monday 5 May, 5.30 PM

Talk: Thinking Out Loud Lecture Series: “From the Department Store to the Shopping Mall: Cinema and its Markets”

Organized by UWS, Thinking Out Loud presents intellectuals talking about the impact of fundamental philosophical ideas on how we understand society. What is art? Is it an aesthetic experience for the few or a mass activity to change the word? For Professor Peter Szendy, this is a false dilemma. In our global economy the experience of art, he argues, is parallel to the workings of the market. Art trades images, the market trades commodities. In the aesthetic supermarket of our day both art and the market rely on exchange to realize their aims.

Samuel Thomas Gill

Tuesday 6 May, 11.00 AM

Talk: Scholarly Musings - Dr Matthew Allen: Drink and Deviance in Colonial NSW - Magistrates and the Construction of a Responsible Society

The achievement of responsible government in NSW in 1856 has been widely seen as a significant moment in the development of colonial democracy. But it should be understood as part of a much broader shift in the social imaginary of the colony. The Government become responsible to its citizens through democratic elections, but citizenship was restricted to members of society who were deemed responsible - respectable, healthy, white, adult men. Research into the regulation of alcohol and the administration of summary justice in NSW both illustrate the significance of changing notions of responsibility to this colonial transformation.

This event is part of the Scholarly Musings series.

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Tuesday 6 May, 6.30 PM

Talk: Ignoramus Anonymous

Is there something that’s caused you trouble or embarrassment; something nagging at your conscience from the news? Something seemingly nonsensical that’s always puzzled you?

Ignoramus Anonymous is a support group for the ignorant (i.e. for anyone and everyone): for revelling in what we don’t know, and what we don’t know we don’t know.

It is a space to ask questions and receive support. A supportive space where not knowing and not understanding can be safely confessed as we share out limitations of knowledge and understanding. Through a simple circle, in which our ignorance forces us to confront a democratic equality with one another, our support will propose an intellectual emancipation and an equality of intelligence in all.

This event is part of the Tuesdays @ the Library series.

Peter Szendy

Wednesday 7 May, 5.30 PM

Talk: Thinking Out Loud Lecture Series: “The Value of images”

Organized by UWS, Thinking Out Loud presents intellectuals talking about the impact of fundamental philosophical ideas on how we understand society. What is art? Is it an aesthetic experience for the few or a mass activity to change the word? For Professor Peter Szendy, this is a false dilemma. In our global economy the experience of art, he argues, is parallel to the workings of the market. Art trades images, the market trades commodities. In the aesthetic supermarket of our day both art and the market rely on exchange to realize their aims.

Typus orbis terrarium, 1579, by Abraham Ortelius

Thursday 8 May, 11.00 AM

Talk: Friends: Southern Visions #1 The Spanish Lake, 1520-1606 (SOLD OUT)

This event is now sold out.

A three-part lecture series 8th, 15th, 29th May, 2014.

The Spanish inaugurated the search for the Great South Land following Magellan's Pacific voyage (1520-21). There were riches to be found and souls to be saved. Mendana thought he had struck gold in 1568 when he found the Solomon Islands but these could not be located again. So did Quiros when he found Vanuatu in 1606 but others were sceptical and he died before he could make another voyage. Torres, in 1606, saw Australia when he sailed through the strait which would bear his name but this information was effectively lost.

Peter Szendy

Friday 9 May, 5.30 PM

Talk: Thinking Out Loud Lecture Series: “The Commodity Gaze”

Organized by UWS, Thinking Out Loud presents intellectuals talking about the impact of fundamental philosophical ideas on how we understand society. What is art? Is it an aesthetic experience for the few or a mass activity to change the word? For Professor Peter Szendy, this is a false dilemma. In our global economy the experience of art, he argues, is parallel to the workings of the market. Art trades images, the market trades commodities. In the aesthetic supermarket of our day both art and the market rely on exchange to realize their aims.

Shortlist

Tuesday 13 May, 6.00 PM

Talk: The Book Stack: The People’s Choice - 2014 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards

The evening will feature readings from the six titles shortlisted for the 2014 Christina Stead Prize for fiction. Whether you have read the books or not, this relaxed and convivial evening will explore and celebrate beautifully crafted works by some of Australia’s best writers. By voting online for your favourite book you will also go into the draw for weekly prizes.

This event is part of the The Book Stack series.

Typus orbis terrarium, 1579, by Abraham Ortelius

Thursday 15 May, 11.00 AM

Talk: Friends: Southern Visions #2 The Dutch Discover New Holland, 1606-1697 (SOLD OUT)

This event is now sold out.

A three-part lecture series 8th, 15th, 29th May, 2014.

Sailing to and from their possessions in the East Indies, the Dutch charted much of the Australian coast and the southern part of Tasmania. But this was a miserable land with nothing of value. It could not be the great continent of untold wealth. New Zealand, part of which Tasman had charted in 1643, was a more likely candidate and Tasman thought it might stretch across the Pacific to South America.

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Monday 19 May, 6.00 PM

Special event: 2014 NSW Premier's Literary Awards Presentation and Cocktail Reception

A glittering celebration of excellence in Australian writing held on the first night of the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Established in 1979, the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards have recognised hundreds of talented Australian writers: novelists, poets, playwrights, scriptwriters, translators, and authors of non-fiction and children’s books. With prizes totalling up to $285,000, they are among the nation’s richest and most prestigious literary awards. This year’s winners will be announced at a presentation and cocktail reception in The Galleries, State Library of NSW.

David Hunt

Wednesday 21 May, 12.00 PM

Talk: Bitesize lunchtime talk with David Hunt

Mark Twain wrote of Australian history: It does not read like history, but like the most beautiful lies ... but they are all true, they all happened. Hear the author of Girt, David Hunt, tell the hilarious yet true story of Australia's past from megafauna to Macquarie, the cock-ups and curiosities and the forgotten eccentrics and Eureka moments that have made us who we are. In Girt, Hunt uncovers these beautiful lies, recounting the strange and ridiculous episodes that conventional histories ignore. The result is surprising, enlightening and side-splittingly funny.

This event is part of the Sydney Writers' Festival series.

Detail from Biblia

Thursday 22 May, 6.00 PM

Special event: Out of the Vaults: Bibles

The history of the publication and dissemination of the Bible in English is fascinating and mirrors the political, social and religious history of England and the English-speaking world. Join Manager of Original Materials Maggie Patton for a presentation highlighting many of the significant bibles held in our collections, from the 15th to the 21st centuries. Our latest acquisition is the Heritage Edition of the Saint John’s Bible, the first illuminated, handwritten Bible commissioned in more than 500 years, recently published by Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota.

This event is part of the Out of the Vaults series.

The Green Parrot of Botany Bay (detail)

Friday 23 May, 11.00 AM

Special event: Come & See the Real Thing

For over 150 years the Library has collected material which documents early European exploration in the Pacific and the search for the Great South Land through to contemporary life, recording the peoples and cultures of NSW, Australia and Oceania. Join us for a glimpse of some of the material we have collected over the past 12 months. You will be surprised and delighted, and be intrigued by our selections as we continue the significant role of ensuring our past and our present is available for future generations.
Typus orbis terrarium, 1579, by Abraham Ortelius

Thursday 29 May, 11.00 AM

Talk: Friends: Southern Visions #3 The British Solve the Puzzle, 1764-1775 (SOLD OUT)

This event is now sold out.

A three-part lecture series 8th, 15th, 29th May, 2014.

A number of British expeditions were sent to find the Great South Land. There were commercial possibilities in a Pacific possession. On his first voyage (1768–1771), James Cook searched in vain and established that New Zealand was not part of any continent. He then charted the east coast of Australia. But this was of little interest. What was of interest was the information and loot brought back from the societies of the Pacific. New Zealand was considered of more value than Australia, though its inhabitants resented the British encroaching. On his second voyage (1772–1775), Cook criss-crossed the Pacific and proved finally there was no Great South Land. The British would have to content themselves with Australia.

Storyology

Thursday 29 May, 6.00 PM

Special event: The Walkley Foundation’s Sydney Storyology Slide Night

Please join us for this annual celebration of Australian press photography. It’s a chance for photographers to show off the in-depth projects they’re really passionate about, to an audience of their peers, media and arts players and photo-lovers in general. Drinks and nibbles will be provided.

This event is part of the Walkley Media Talks series.

In association with the Head On Portrait Prize exhibition.

Port Jackson NSW

Tuesday 3 June, 11.00 AM

Talk: Scholarly Musings - Paul Irish: Aboriginal people in 19th Century Sydney

Aboriginal people continued to live across a number of settlements east and south of the centre of Sydney throughout the nineteenth century. Though we know they were there, we are only starting to understand how they lived and interacted with Europeans and the growing city of Sydney. Some of the key sources are located within the collections of the Mitchell Library, and this talk will focus on how these records can help paint a picture of life in this largely forgotten period of Sydney Aboriginal history.

This event is part of the Scholarly Musings series.

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Tuesday 3 June, 6.00 PM

Talk: Ignoramus Anonymous

Is there something that’s caused you trouble or embarrassment; something nagging at your conscience from the news? Something seemingly nonsensical that’s always puzzled you?

Ignoramus Anonymous is a support group for the ignorant (i.e. for anyone and everyone): for revelling in what we don’t know, and what we don’t know we don’t know.

It is a space to ask questions and receive support. A supportive space where not knowing and not understanding can be safely confessed as we share out limitations of knowledge and understanding. Through a simple circle, in which our ignorance forces us to confront a democratic equality with one another, our support will propose an intellectual emancipation and an equality of intelligence in all.

This event is part of the Tuesdays @ the Library series.

Walkleys

Thursday 12 June, 6.00 PM

Talk: Walkley Media Talk: Walkley Innovation

The successful applicants for the Walkley innovation grants will be announced in July and we want to get people thinking about innovation in journalism – what it means, why it’s important, why the media needs to be more creative with its approach to new platforms and models, some examples of who’s doing innovation well, and what we need to create an ecosystem that nurtures innovation in Australia. What are some of the exciting new proposals for storytelling on the horizon – and what do they need to become commercially successful? Join Steph Harmon from Junkee.com, Phil Sandberg from Content+Technology magazine - ANZ and ASIA editions and Mary Hamilton from Guardian Australia as well as a speaker from Google (TBC).

This event is part of the Walkley Media Talks series.

Blake Singley

Tuesday 1 July, 11.00 AM

Talk: Scholarly Musings - Blake Singley: An Australian Cookery Book

The year 2014 marks a significant milestone in the history of the cookbook in Australia. It celebrates the 150th anniversary of the initial publication, in 1864, of Australia’s first cookbook The English and Australian Cookery Book: cookery for the many, as well as for the upper ten thousand by Edward Abbott. This seminal book, a copy of which is held by the Mitchell Library, is an important source in understanding the emergence of a distinct Australian food culture. Furthermore, it also illuminates the rise of a unique cultural identity in colonial Australia.

Blake Singley will discuss the publication history of The English and Australian Cookery Book and its reception both at home and abroad. It will examine the recipes contained within its pages such as the Kangaroo Steamer and Slippery Bob, a dish of kangaroo brains fried in emu fat. It will also explore the place of Abbott’s work within the context of the cookbook publishing industry in colonial Australia.

This event is part of the Scholarly Musings series.

Walkleys

Thursday 17 July, 6.00 PM

Talk: Walkley Media Talk: Killing Fairfax

Six-time Walkley Award-winner Pamela Williams was awarded the Walkley Book Award in 2013 for Killing Fairfax (HarperCollins) – an expose of the fortunes of Fairfax Media inspired by the huge rounds of redundancies and cuts that arrived at the media company after years of challenges to its newspaper business model. Judges described Killing Fairfax as a detailed, insightful and powerful explanation of what happened when digital adventurers ambushed the traditional Australian media empires which had built what had been considered impregnable fortresses out of the revenue from newspaper advertising. The fortresses crumbled – and were hastily subjected to desperate reconstruction plans – as the digital interlopers gained strength, income and influence.

This fascinating discussion will be hosted by Richard Aedy, host of ABC’s Media Report. Richard began his journalistic career in 1988 in New Zealand and has worked as reporter, producer, executive producer and presenter in three countries, including four years at the BBC in London. As a journalist, Richard has covered crime, aviation, industrial affairs, science, health, technology, education, economics, epidemiology, indigenous issues, social change and the media. He has made award-winning documentaries in Colombia, East Timor, the United States and the UK. After more than 20 years, he remains interested in everything. Richard is a former Reuters Foundation Fellow at Oxford, former presenter of The Buzz and he presented Life Matters from 2006 to the end of last year. He is a lifelong media junkie.

This event is part of the Walkley Media Talks series.

Rayner Hoff. Item 135. Collection of negatives of people and places, mainly Australian

Tuesday 5 August, 11.00 AM

Talk: Scholarly Musings - Deborah Beck: Rayner Hoff - his antipodean legacy

Sculptor G. Rayner Hoff was 29 when he arrived in Sydney from England in 1923 to become drawing and sculpture master at East Sydney Technical College. Known principally for his sculptures on the Anzac War Memorial (1931-34) in Sydney, Hoff was also responsible for establishing an influential school of sculpture which had significant repercussions for the development of sculpture throughout Australia. In researching her upcoming biography, Deborah Beck has discovered a rich source of material in the collections of the State Library of NSW. Via this documentation, she has explored Hoff's relationship with many iconic Australian artists and authors such as Norman Lindsay, Douglas Dundas, Mary Gilmore and Hugh McCrae.

This event is part of the Scholarly Musings series.

John Macarthur

Tuesday 2 September, 11.00 AM

Talk: Scholarly Musings - Patrick Dodd: 'John Macarthur - Visionary or Villain'?

Macarthur is remembered by most people for laying the foundations of the great Australian wool industry. In fact he spent so much time away from home fighting Governors and facing a court martial in England his practical achievements owe a very great deal to the persistence and loyalty of his wife and sons. He was a complex character. Some saw him as scheming and devious with disdain for any official who dared to thwart his ambitions. Others saw him as a brilliant publicist and organiser who did much to focus and promote attention to the potential of the colony. He achieved a great deal but his personal traits prevented him from achieving much more.

This event is part of the Scholarly Musings series.

South Sea Whale Fishery

Tuesday 7 October, 11.00 AM

Talk: Scholarly Musings - Stephen Martin: The work and papers of Dr William Dawbin, whaling historian and cetacean scientist.

Stephen Martin talks about the work and papers of Dr William Dawbin, whaling historian and cetacean scientist. For the last half of the twentieth century, Dawbin was a respected and authoritative member of the scientific community, contributing information and analysis on whaling history and biology to his colleagues and to the formal institutions then controlling whaling. For many years he was a member of the scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission, and worked to provide accurate assessments of the whaling catch and its viability. Perhaps his most significant contribution was the plotting of the tempo and make up of the humpback whale migrations that annually embrace the coasts of New Zealand and Australia. After the banning of whaling, Dawbin was a central figure in the flow of information about the surveys and sightings that described the slow return in numbers of humpback whales in Australasian waters.

This event is part of the Scholarly Musings series.

Mr Howard Vernon

Tuesday 4 November, 11.00 AM

Talk: Scholarly Musings - Dr Kevin Hewitt: Howard Vernon (1848-1921)

Howard Vernon (1848-1921), the stage name of John Lett, was a major star of the Australasian musical stage. His professional career took him overseas in the late 1870s, primarily to Asia, while garnering some experience with companies in the United Kingdom and California before he returned to Australia and was contracted to JC Williamson, with whom he would be associated mainly in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas for most of the next twenty-five years.
Vernon's career offers a prime example of the energy and adaptability required to survive in the colonial theatre. Kevin Hewitt has been retired for some 12 years in which time he has been able to indulge his passion for Gilbert and Sullivan which culminated in the conferring of a PhD in 2012 through Sydney University on the life of Vernon. He has been a volunteer at the State Library since his retirement.

This event is part of the Scholarly Musings series.

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