Community Engagement News
We welcomed about 90 people to the inaugural Newcastle big book club event. They were a mixture of university professional and academic staff and members of the community, many of whom were members of a book club "in real life". The book was Hilary Mantel's Bring up the Bodies, the middle book in a trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, Chancellor to Henry VIII, which had just been awarded the 2013 Man Booker Prize. The organizers, Linda Hutchinson and Kristy Atkins, were in costume, a guitarist played to help the atmosphere, drinks were available at the bar and tapas were delivered to the tables. The Vice-Chancellor was at one table and welcomed the participants on behalf of the University, and a representative of Variety The Children's Charity spoke about the work of the charity, to which the proceeds of the night were to go. Trisha Pender and Hugh Craig opened the literary part of the evening with a dialogue on the style and themes of the novel. Then tables were allotted a passage each from the novel to discuss. A speaker from each table relayed their findings to the wider group and there was some heated discussion of Cromwell's character, the peculiarities of Mantel's style, and the fate and treatment of Anne Boleyn. A quiz on some of the more recherché aspects of the novel was then conducted. Prizes were handed out on the spot for correct answers. Then after some general remarks about feminist issues in the novel the evening concluded. The Institute was thus able to present one kind of humanities research – literary criticism – and to involve a wider audience in the experience of a university English studies seminar. The reaction was highly positive and a community of interest for more such activities was formed, with many of those present signing up as new members of the Friends of the Humanities Research Institute.
2012 Big Book Club Gallery
The Humanities Research Institute Public Lecture ‘You have to Let Out the Scream’, by Professor Peter Read, University of Sydney, was held on 24 October 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Newcastle. About 100 people attended.
This talk examined the circumstances leading up to Mr Rudd's apology to the Forgotten Australians, those 500,000 children who grew up in Australian institutions in the twentieth century. Professor Read then traced how the exhibition Inside: Life in Children’s Homes and Institutions was conceived and the unforgettable result.
This was a powerfully moving lecture for those who attended, with some members of the audience identifying themselves as a Forgotten Australians and bravely sharing stories of their experiences.