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Between the covers of our literary journals and weekend newspapers, reviewers shape what we read and buy. But as Gideon Haigh recently opined book reviewing is in trouble in Australia as reviewers “are the lowliest of contributors” at most media outlets. Our panel looks at how we can create a vibrant critical culture around literature that is both independent and professional.
This session will be chaired by Peter Mares.
Peter Craven is one of Australia’s best-known literary critics. He edited Scripsi with Michael Heyward and was the founding editor of the Black Inc. Best Of annuals (Essays, Stories, Poems) and of Quarterly Essay.
Peter Mares is lead moderator with The Cranlana Programme, an independent, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to developing the ethical decision-making skills of Australia’s leaders. Peter is also contributing editor at Inside Story magazine and adjunct fellow at Swinburne University’s Centre for Urban Transitions. He is a former ABC broadcaster and the author of three books, including No Place Like Home: Repairing Australia’s Housing Crisis (Text 2018).
Gideon Haigh has been a journalist 32 years, published 32 books and edited seven others. His latest is book is Stroke of Genius: Victor Trumper and the Shot That Changed Cricket published in 2016 by Penguin Random House.
Hilary McPhee was a founding director of McPhee Gribble Publishers and a Chair of the Australia Council for the Arts, the inaugural Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne, and a founding director of New Matilda.com.
Rebecca Starford is the associate publisher at Affirm Press and the co-founder and editor at Kill Your Darlings.
Why Australian arts criticism is failing us all.
In the first week of September we’re programming a series of events looking at the state of arts criticism in Australia, under the thoroughly prejudicial name of Critical Failure. Too often we hear the cries of scepticism about the quality of local creative output, but what is the truth about the environment into which that output is released? If a film is Australian is it more likely to be over-praised or over-criticised? Are local productions held to the same standards as international? What role does the Cultural Cringe play? Tall Poppy Syndrome? Does the web offer a possibility for a new, more democratic critical environment for the arts in Australia? And what does all this mean for the creation of art locally: what chance does local art have to flourish in an environment where it is too rarely judged on its own terms?
With four panels across four art forms – Theatre, Film, Books and Visual Arts – we review the state of critical culture in Australia and cast a critical eye over Australian reviewing. Featuring some of the finest thinkers and practitioners in the local art scene, this will be a thought-provoking week of discussions that take critical engagement to the next level.
Videos of Critical Failure Sessions
This event is produced in partnership with ABC Radio National.