'Bad feminist’ Roxane Gay heads UNSW’s Sydney Writers’ Festival events

23 May 2017

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“I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human,” US writer Roxane Gay declared in her best-selling collection of essays Bad Feminist.

The sentiment struck a chord with other women who found it hard to be an ideal feminist with perfect politics, whether that involved enjoying misogynistic rap music or having opinions that felt incompatible with feminist ideology.

New-York based Gay will elaborate on her contribution to the contemporary feminist debate at a free event at UNSW on 24 May, What’s Feminism Got To Do With It?, as part of this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival.

In conversation with UNSW’s Dr Emma Jane, Gay will discuss her essays, her short story collection Difficult Women and her upcoming memoir Hunger. The event is sold out but fans can add their names to a waitlist.

For the eighth year, UNSW Arts & Social Sciences is a Major Partner of the Festival, which runs from 22-28 May. UNSW-sponsored sessions range from feminism to global inequality, hate politics, small-town secrets, the legacy of the Russian Revolution and the fate of scandalous women.

Dr Bianca Fileborn , Lecturer in Criminology in the School of Social Sciences, will delve into the complexity of creating strong women in fiction, in conversation with authors Kathryn Heyman, Zoë Morrison and Laura Elizabeth Woollett. In Scandal!, Dr Helen Pringle will ask what becomes of women who transgress socio-cultural norms in a panel discussion with authors Annabel Abbs, Carmel Bird, and Alexandra Joel.

In Human Baggage: The Hate Politics of Immigration, Associate Professor Claudia Tazreiter from the Forced Migration Research Network and writer Roanna Gonsalves from the School of the Arts & Media will join a panel to examine the changing response to refugees in today’s world.

In Parramatta, Professor of Global Health and Development Anthony Zwi will interview Michael Traill about his memoir Jumping Ship, the story of his journey from the heart of corporate Australia to the world of social investment.

UNSW Arts & Social Sciences is again supporting the Thinking Globally series, which takes a fresh look at some of today’s most pressing issues.

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A highlight of this series is Globalisation & Inequality in the Age of Trump, presented with UNSW Grand Challenges and featuring New York Times writer and globalisation champion Thomas Friedman in conversation with UNSW Economics Professor and PLuS Alliance Fellow Richard Holden, Washington Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby and the ACTU’s Ged Kearney.

Holden, academic co-lead of UNSW’s Grand Challenge on Inequality, says: “Twelve years ago, Thomas Friedman’s worldwide bestseller The World is Flat suggested there are winners and losers from globalisation and it was a case of managing that. In the age of Trump, when we live in a world of walls, rising inequality and protectionism, it seems globalisation is up for grabs.”

The Thinking Globally series also features panels examining the impact of Britain’s exit from the European Union, the legacy of the Russian Revolution 100 years on, the societal changes needed in a changing world and the dilemma of whether to opt out of the 24-hour news cycle.

Faculty Dean Professor Susan Dodds said: Our partnership with the Sydney Writers’ Festival reflects UNSW Arts & Social Sciences’ commitment to creativity, critical thinking, and addressing today’s social issues.

“We are very pleased to be contributing to this vibrant and dynamic knowledge exchange again in 2017. Many of our academics, alumni and industry partners will take part in the Festival this year, offering insights across a range of disciplines, including women’s and gender studies, international relations, criminology, media and communications, creative writing, and, of course, literature.”

Other UNSW authors include Madeline Gleeson, Senior Research Associate at the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law and author of the award-winning Offshore: Behind the Wire on Manus and Nauru, who will discuss how to separate the personal and the professional as part of the panel How Deep Can You Go?.

And Kerrie Davies, UNSW media lecturer and author of A Wife’s Heart, a biography of Henry Lawson written from the perspective of his wife Bertha, will be part of a panel on Lawson’s The Drover’s Wife, and will present workshops on memoir writing and on social media sharing.