Associate Professor Clare Wright has taken part in a ten-day speaking tour of China as an international guest of the Australian Writers Week program.
Dr Wright is a member of the History Program at La Trobe University. Her work focuses on Australian history, politics and the role of women, and her book The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka has drawn much acclaim and won numerous awards, including the 2014 Stella Prize.
Dr Wright's visit took in the cities of Guangzhou, Hefei, Shanghai and Beijing. She was a guest speaker at events such as the Bookworm Literary Festival and Capital M Mentor Walks, gave lectures and workshops at Peking University, Anhui University, East China Normal University and Sun Yat Sen University, as well as speaking at Australian consulates and at events celebrating International Women's Day.
"The speaking tour opened up opportunities for collaboration and dialogue with Chinese academics that I wouldn't have anticipated," says Dr Wright. "There's an extraordinary network of Australian Studies Centres in Chinese universities. The thirst for knowledge about Australia among Chinese students is unquenchable. I found them far more knowledgeable about Australian history, literature and landscape than I suspect Australian students are about China."
Other guests participating in AWW16 were authors Robert Drewe, Graeme Base and Jane Godwin. Sponsored by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and run by the Australian Embassy in Beijing, the cultural diplomacy tour promotes Australian stories and voices to Chinese audiences. This year marked the beginning of a new partnership between Australian Writers Week and the Stella Prize, which promotes writing by Australian women.
"I met Chinese academics who have made a career of translating Australian literature, and their knowledge was extraordinary," says Dr Wright. "In all of the lectures and seminars I conducted the feedback from audiences was really connected and informed. That surprised and delighted me. Young Chinese women were particularly warm and engaged. "
Three Chinese universities have invited Dr Wright to return in the future and take part in a writer-in-resident program or lecture on Australian history.