Program Highlights

Take a fresh look at some of today’s most pressing issues, challenge the traditional ways of thinking and be inspired to change the world! UNSW Arts & Social Sciences is proud to support the following events as part of the 2018 Sydney Writers’ Festival.

For a full of list of festival events, please visit

Sydney Writers Festival Event Jenny Zhang

Thursday 3 May 6.15pm – 7.30pm

Join us at UNSW for a conversation with New York based poet, writer and performer  Jenny Zhang. Zhang’s recent short story collection Sour Hearts, explores an immigrant Chinese American community through the eyes of a series of young girls. Jenny will be in conversation with writer, comedian, actor and TV presenter Alex Lee.

Alex Lee Sydney Writers Festival

Alex Lee is a comedian, television presenter and actor with a background in journalism. She is a writer/presenter on ABC TV’s The Checkout. Alex’s other television credits include The Chaser’s Election Desk, The Roast, Media Circus, Story Club, and The Feed. In 2018, she starred in the encore performance of Single Asian Female by Michelle Law at Belvoir St Theatre, which premiered at La Boite Theatre in 2017. 

Register for the event 

Thinking Globally 2018

Thinking Globally is supported by UNSW Arts & Social Sciences.

Take a fresh look at some of the most pressing issues facing the world today with our Thinking Globally series. Join Pulitzer Prize-winning staff writer for The Washington Post Amy Goldstein, NBC News reporter Katy Tur, political science professor Robert E. Kelly, Vanity Fair correspondent Gabriel Sherman, and Asia Editor of The Times Richard Lloyd Parry.

How The News Has Changed

May 3, 11.30am
Carriageworks Bay 17

The news cycle has seemingly accelerated from 24 hours to warp speed. But what happens when nothing matters long enough to matter anymore? From Trump’s scandals to homegrown ministerial fiascos, digital outlets are breaking news to our screens with increasing velocity – and we’re posting and tweeting commentary into ever more partisan echo chambers. {Sydney Morning Herald} journalist Kate McClymont, {Vanity Fair} correspondent Gabriel Sherman, NBC News reporter Katy Tur and {7.30}’s Monique Schafter talk to the Wheeler Centre’s Sophie Black about what’s being lost in the churn and how it’s reshaping society.

Going Rogue: North Korea

May 4, 1.30pm
Carriageworks Bay 17

North Korea is unlike any other nation today. Its citizens are sealed off from the world and only allowed access to state-run propaganda, and its volatile leader Kim Jong-un is considered a threat to world peace. But can an international crisis be averted? And amid the headlines, have we forgotten the plight of the North Korean people themselves? Political science professor Robert E. Kelly, Korean-American author Min Jin Lee, {Korea} author Michael Pembroke and filmmaker and writer Anna Broinowski discuss the isolated nation with Linda Jaivin.

New Power

May 5, 10.00am
Carriageworks Bay 17

For millennia, power was something to be seized and jealously guarded. However, the rapid emergence of new technologies is changing the game. From Bernie Saunders to President Donald Trump, from taxis to B&Bs, new ideas, political movements and businesses now spread with astonishing speed. In conversation with UNSW Sydney Professor Susan Dodds, {New Power} authors Jeremy Heimans (co-founder of GetUp!) and Henry Timms draw on examples from politics, popular culture, business and social justice to explain the disruptive forces that are changing the course of our age.

Economic Inequality: From Wisconsin to Whyalla

May 6, 10.00am
Carriageworks Bay 17

Economic inequality is on the rise, including in Trump’s America and in Australia. Middle-class jobs are disappearing, especially in towns that relied on manufacturing. Where does this leave people in affected industries and areas, and the generation to follow? And what are the political implications for democracies? Join award–winning author Don Watson, Pulitzer Prize–winning staff writer for {The Washington Post} Amy Goldstein and UNSW Sydney economics Professor Richard Holden in a wide-ranging conversation with ABC’s Chief Economics Correspondent Emma Alberici about the challenges posed by inequality today

An Evolving Crisis: Rohingya in Myanmar

May 6, 2.00pm
Seymour Centre, Everest Theatre

More than 650,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since late 2017, following what Amnesty International has called a targeted campaign of “systematic murder, rape and burning” by security forces. International Crisis Group President and former foreign affairs minister Gareth Evans, Asia editor of {The Times} Richard Lloyd Parry and {Myanmar’s Enemy Within} author Francis Wade discuss with {The Guardian}’s Ben Doherty how Myanmar’s leaders have turned on the Muslim population at a time when other citizens are beginning to experience freedoms unseen for half a century.

Other events not to be missed

The following events are presented as part of the 2018 Sydney Writers’ Festival and feature staff from UNSW exploring the world of creative writing, inspiring stories and critical social issues.

Family Ties

May 3, 10.00am
Seymour Centre, Reginald Theatre

Families and their complex dynamics have long provided ample subject matter for novelists. Debra Oswald, Holly Ringland and Sophie Green talk to Roanna Gonsalves about their latest novels, which masterfully capture the emotion, hardship and joy of family life in unique and compelling ways.

History's Next Generation

May 3, 1.30pm
Seymour Centre, Sound Lounge

A new generation of Australian historians is emerging with a fresh perspective on our past. Two authors at the vanguard of this shift, Nick Brodie and Billy Griffiths, team up for a fascinating discussion about researching Indigenous history, national identity and historical myths. They are in conversation with Lisa Ford.

Emotional Complexity

May 6, 1.20pm

Seymour Centre, Sound Lounge

In conversation with Elizabeth McMahon, two of South-East Asia’s most exciting new literary talents take to the stage to discuss their captivating stories that focus on the lives of women today. Indonesian writer Intan Paramaditha’s Apple and Knife is a collection of fiction that swerves into the supernatural to explore the dangers and power of occupying a female body.