I haven’t had time to write in my blog lately, as I’ve been consumed by writing conference papers. The week before last I was in Canberra (fortunately before their cold snap, where it maxed four degrees C - being a proper Bris Vegan wuss now, the cold is hard to tolerate) for a conference on “Affective Habitus” put together by The Association for the Study of Literature, Environment and Culture, Australia and New Zealand (ASLEC-ANZ), the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, and Minding Animals International. The conference was fantastic, and the plenary speakers were all stellar. I presented on masculinities in rural Australia, and used Fleur McDonald’s Purple Roads and Kim Scott’s Kayang and Me to illustrate my thoughts. I also caught up with old friends who I’d hadn’t seen for a year, and partook of some delectable cupcakes.
Following this was a conference titled on “Afterlives of Pastoral” at the University of Queensland, where I spoke about my great-grandfather, who was a pastoralist and showed his wealth through buying art. One of his purchases was Elioth Gruner’s Spring Frost, subsequently donated to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which I used to talk about the genre of the pastoral, which evicted Indigenous people from its frame, as did the pastoralists themselves, with terrible ramifications for the land and its Indigenous people.
I’m now in Sydney, where I’ll be talking about Rosa Praed and memory at the annual Association for the Study of Australian Literature conference. Tomorrow I’m heading to Orange to give a talk at 5.30pm at the library on Byng Street, which I’m really looking forward to, though I note with some apprehension that the weather is set to be 10 degrees. Yikes!
In other good news, I have been awarded a grant by the Australia Council to write my third novel, The Sea Creatures. This is being funded through their new Artists with Disability programme, of which I was one of two writers among the 25 successful applications. This means that I can cut back to two days per week of work to write my book. I can’t begin to express my relief and gratitude for this grant, as it means I can have something resembling a life again. I also can’t wait to get back to my fiction. Once this conference is out of the way, I’ll be on my way, hurrah!